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The Hands of Nara (1922)

The Hands of Nara (1922) Samuel Zierler Photoplay Corp. Distributer: Metro Pictures. Presenter: Harry Garson. Director: Harry Garson. Photography, L.W. O'Connell. Cast: Clara Kimball Young, Count John Orloff, Elliott Dexter, Edwin Stevens, Vernon Steele, John Miltern, Margaret Loomis, Martha Mattox, Dulcie Cooper, Ashley Cooper, Myrtle Stedman, Eugenie Besserer. 6 reels. This film is apparently LOST

This was Young's first film released by Metro (except in New York) and the last directed by Harry Garson, who did not receive a director's credit.

A great lobby card courtesy of Donna Hill. Hands of Nara
Unidentified clipping Hands of Nara

Review from Variety
Reviews from Moving Picture World
Unidentified brief reviews

Review from Variety, September 22, 1922

The Hands of Nara

A Harry Garson production starring Clara Kimball Young, directed by Harry Garson. A story that is decidedly Christian Science propaganda by Richard Washburn Child. Released by Commonwealth. Shown at Loew's Circle, New York City in double feature bill

Count Boris Alexieffs Otto Orloff
Nara Alexieff Clara Kimball Young
Connor Lee Edwin Stevens
Adam Pine Vernon Steele
Mrs. Yates Myrtle Stedman
Dr. Emlen Caveloux Elliott Dexter
Emma Gammel Margaret Loomis
Dr. Haith Caveloux John Miltern
Mrs. Caveloux Jeanie Besserer

This picture is frankly and purely a bit of propaganda for the Christian Science faith. So much so that the title might better have been that of "The Miracle Woman" than "The Hands of Nara." The latter title means nothing. The former would have at least been in keeping with the story, and, further, it would have linked the picture with that great success of the past in filmdom, "The Miracle Man." The picture is a fair enough box office attraction for the medium classed houses, but it is far from being strong enough to stand the test of a real full week pre-release run anywhere. It is without a doubt one of the most significant lessons on how a star, that was one of the real top dozen in the point of box office strength may be permitted to slip without the right story material and proper direction in sufficient number of productions each year to keep her before the public. It isn't more than two years ago a Clara Kimball Young picture was an event on Broadway, but in that short time she has slipped to such an extent that one of her new productions isn't even given passing notice.

The story has Miss Young as a Russian refugee who comes to this country and is sponsored by a wealthy widow who has the protege hobby, but the sham of the near Bohemian social set gets on her nerves and she seeks out a former friend of her father's who is a faker in the faith healing business. He sees great possibilities in the magnetic personality of this young woman and immediately starts her on a career as a faith healer. She has a tremendous success with her first patient, a waif of the slums, and from then on her vogue grows. While flitting with the social set, however, she has met a young doctor, whose father as well as himself are constantly showing up the fake healers and driving them from the city. The father, however, seeks the girl out when all scientific medical skill has failed and asks her to attend his wife. She is successful to a marked degree, but after the return of the son to the house and his informing her that she is an out and out faker with no extraordinary powers, she flees and returns to the tenements whence she came, only to be sought out later by the young doctor for the usual happy ending.

The picture is partly titled in color which is effective, but the contrast is so great when the ordinary titles appear that it takes from the entire production. The direction is not particularly good and there are times when the story is rather hard to follow. In the selection of the cast it seems rather unfortunate that Elliott Dexter should have been chosen as leading man to Miss Young because of his physical infirmities, which, though the director tried to cover them, showed glaringly through the picture whenever the full length shots were shown.

The balance of the cast was not out of the ordinary, although Myrtle Steadman as a widow vamp with an Oriental room for her male proteges looked like a fast worker with all the appurtenances.


Reviews from Moving Picture World

August 19, 1922

"The Hands of Nara"
Clara Kimball Young in Powerful Metro Drama About the Power of Faith.
Reviewed by Sumner Smith.

Faith can accomplish seeming miracles. That is the theme of "The Hands of Nara," a Metro picture, starring Clara Kimball Young. In this instance, the proof is furnished by a contracting series of incidents dealing with the healing powers of medicine. Faith succeeds where a physician fails.

The power of faith cannot be disputed, but is a logical topic that is extremely difficult to prove convincingly in a story or motion picture. In the Richard Washburn Child story, from which the picture was adapted, the conclusions were reached definitely and dramatically because the author could write at as much length as he chose, while the picture was of necessity limited to six reels. Sub-titles in the early part indicate that it originally greatly exceeded this footage.

The theme is, however, driven home, and the picture possesses appeal to the intellect as well as entertainment value. Clara Kimball Young gives a dramatic performance as the idealistic Russian woman, injecting much feeling into the part. John Orloff, Elliott Dexter, Edwin Stevens and Vernon Steel are admirable in supporting roles. Some of the sets are above the average, and the gowns worn are strikingly beautiful. The picture starts off with a punch and maintains a good rate of speed in development of plot, despite the necessity for elaborate characterization.


Nara Alexieff Clara Kimball Young
Boris Alexieff Count John Orloff
Emlen Caveloux Elliott Dexter
Connor Lee Edwin Stevens
Adam Pine Vernon Steele
Doctor Haith Caveloux John Miltern
Emma Gammell Margaret Loomis
Mrs. Miller Martha Maddox
Carrie Miller Dulcie Cooper
Mister Miller Ashley Cooper
Vanessa Yates Myrtle Stedman
Mrs. Caveloux Eugenie Besserer
From the Novel by Richard Washburn Child.
Scenarioist Not Credited.
Director not Credited
Length, 6,000 Feet

The Story: Nara, the daughter of a wealthy Russian killed by the Bolsheviki, flees to America and meets Adam Pine, a sculptor, who marvels at the beauty of her hands. Through him she meets Mrs. Vanessa Yates, a patroness of the arts, and Dr. Emlen Claveloux, who is completely absorbed in science. Connor Lee, a fake spiritualist, persuades her that she has a God-given power to cure ill people, and profits financially by her success in this work. This brings her into conflict with the physician, whom she loves, but her faith in the power of will and her beauty of character finally teach him that faith is at least an important adjunct to medicine.

Exploitation Angles: Give most of this to Miss Young to carry, but do not overlook the value of the appeal to those who believe in various cults of faith healing. If you can get the physicians to argue the question in the local paper, it will help not a little, and most physicians are not averse to free advertisement.

Consensus of Published Reviews, September 23, 1922

The Hands of Nara
(Clara Kimball Young--Metro--6,000 Feet)

M.P.W.--The picture starts off with a punch and maintains a good rate of speed in development of plot, despite the necessity for elaborate characterization.
F.D.--Another "miracle" picture with theme that has no universal appeal.
N.--Possesses possibilities.
T.R. This star's name may prove a good box office asset during initial showings of this picture, but patrons whose expectations of entertainment are based on memories of better productions in which Miss Young has appeared will be doomed to disappointment.
E.H.--Too lengthy and involved subtitles, poor direction and poor lighting make this adaptation of an interesting story rather negligible entertainment.

Straight from the Shoulder Reports (from exhibitors)

April 28, 1923
HANDS OF NARA (6000 feet). Star, Clara Kimball Young. Miss Young appeared to very good advantage and her acting pleased the audiences. She had good support and the picture enjoyed pleased good business. William Noble, Criterion Theatre, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

May 12, 1923
HANDS OF NARA. (6,000 feet.) Star, Clara Kimball Young. This one will do with a serial if you have your crowd coming; about the worst one she ever made. Worth about eight or ten dollars for a small town. Used ones and photos. Fair attendance. Draw from all classes, except Chinks. Admission, 10-25. R. Mayson Hall, Grand Theatre (300 seats), Northfork, West Virginia.

July 14, 1923
HANDS OF NARA. (6,000 feet.) Star, Clara Kimball Young. Not a good picture but would probably been fair in five reels instead of seven. Regular advertising brought fair attendance. Charles Martin, Family Theatre, Mt. Morris, New York

February 24, 1923
ENTER MADAME. (6,500 feet.) Star, Clara Kimball Young. Good, entertaining picture, much better than "Hands of Nara," the star's previous vehicle. My patrons seemed satisfied with it. Elliott Dexter in supporting cast. Charles H. Ryan, Garfield Theatre, Madison Street, Chicago, Illinois.

February 24, 1923
HANDS OF NARA and ENTER MADAME. (Nara, 6,000 feet, Madame, 6,500 feet.) Star, Clara Kimball Young. Both, in my opinion, very ordinary productions. Young not liked in this territory. She seems to be getting too old for pictures. City of 32,000. Admission thirty cents. H.W. Perry, Ogden Theatre, Ogden, Utah.

Unidentifed brief reviews

The Hands of Nara (Pathé, Jan. 24).Clara Kimball Young in a dramatic mystery story about a Russian girl-refugee and her fight against tremendous odds. Elliott Dexter opposite, also Vernon Steel, John Miltern, Margaret Loomis, Myrtle Steadman, Eugenie Besserer and Edwin Stevens. Good entertainment.

The Hands of Nara (Pathé, Jan. 24).
QUITE an unusual picture this, with its theme of spiritualism and belief in faith healing. The story of a Russian girl's escape from the horror of Bolshevism, and he subsequent belief in the power of her hands as a healing medium, is decidedly weird, and holds one spellbound until the climax is reached. It is with relief that we learn that the only magic of life is love. Clara Kimball Young, as Nara, is quite up to her usual standard.

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Last revised November 23, 2012