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The Thieving Hand 1908
Description: A one-armed road peddler notices that a well-to-do boy has dropped his ring. He returns it to him. The wealthy boy is very grateful and, to present his appreciation, takes the peddler to a 'Limb Store', where he buys him a fresh arm. The recipient later discovers that this fresh arm has a will of its own - causing him considerable embarrassment.
Released: 01 Feb 1908 Director: J. Stuart Blackton Writers: N/A Actors: Paul Panzer Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Short
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The Thieving Hand Reviews:

This offbeat fantasy detail is both funny and imaginative, combining a surreal storyline concept with some down-to-earth slapstick gags. It also details a cute nice range of unique camera effects, and most of them work well. In the first decade of the 1900s, many film-makers strove to come up with off-the-wall concepts to give additional life to their comedies, and this is one of the better examples of its kind.The storyline begins with a one-armed road peddler who earns the gratitude of a rich passer-by. To present his gratitude, the rich boy takes him to a shop that sells limbs, and from then on the storyline is amusingly bizarre. The terrible man's fresh arm quickly displays a will of its own, leading to some entertaining situations. The closing gag is, by that time, somewhat predictable, but it is funny, and it works in rounding off the storyline neatly.The unique results of "The Thieving Hand" in action seem to be relatively straightforward in terms of technique, but most of them are convincing and fun to watch. The camera tricks and the wacky nature of the storyline both create this short comedy an enjoyable one.


This short movie (actually, in its day it was feature-length) is very unusual in that even today--almost 100 years later--the movie is STILL cute funny and watchable. I have seen few hundred movies from this era and so many of them have exceptionally easy and mundane plots, so it's really great to see one that rises above the rest. Interestingly enough, this five minute movie is now funnier than most of the Sennett (Keystone Studios) movies made in the following decade.The movie begins with a one-armed beggar finding a rich guy's wallet. Since he's an honest man, he returns the wallet. The rich guy is so impressed that he takes the beggar to a store to purchase him the recent and most functional prosthetic arm. It can now transport and function much like a true arm but with one glaring exception! The arm has a thieving mind of its own and steals everything in the most amazingly deft and funny fashion. It's really funny to see the honest beggar trying to stop this evil arm! Ultimately, though, he's accused of stealing and sent to jail. There, the thieving are continues on its original methods in a very pretty conclusion.Since this movie is so imaginative and interesting (not to mention funny), it's well worth a look even today.


This charming and very amusing short movie from 1908 surpasses many short movies of today in its imagination and execution. The unique effects, although nowhere near as slick as today add charm to a short movie that succeeds in saying a visual storyline that may well not have worked so well if there was dialogue.



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