Kiss the Blood off my Hands
Burt Lancaster’s early career brought to the screen a series of films that appealed to the “macho” in male viewers, and to a sublime appreciation of masculine magnetism, in the women.
1946 The Killers
1947 Brute Force
1948 Kiss the Blood off my Hands
1949 Rope of Sand
1950 The Flame and the Arrow
1951 Ten Tall Men
1952 The Crimson Pirate
In Kiss the Blood off my Hands he plays Bill Saunders, a fugitive from the law
after seriously injured a man in a fight. (Sparing the details.) He hides out in
the apartment of a nurse (played by Joan Fontaine) who helps him, with the
1948 audience assuming the attraction is his animal magnetism. He is arrested,
and sent to prison. The judge adds (20?) lashes of the cat o’ nine tails to the
sentence, because of the extreme brutality of his act.
Descending the stairs to the punishment room, his reaction is blasé. When they
fasten the collar that will protect his spinal column, he shows curiosity, then
surprise when the first lash strikes (hey that hurts!) and sheer agony before the
punishment is completed.
Publicity in fan magazines noted that, in order to authentically react to the lash,
he took it in the way a real prisoner would have had to.
In the book from which the screen play was taken, Saunders, describing the
event, says “This wasn’t hitting, this was just plain torture.”
Prior to release, the film was to be called The Unafraid, because the producers
felt the title of the book was too violent. Obviously, they backed off.
Following the picture story is an old illustration of a flogging, probably staged,
and an older whipping frame in a museum.
Adult men and teenage boys were whipped on the vertical frame with the cat,
the punishment applied to the bare back..
The regulation cat o’ nine tails was 33 inches long, with a 19-inch handle.
The nine tails were made of fine whipcord.
Younger boys were whipped with the “birch rod.” It consisted of a bunch of
limber branches of birch, willow or some other flexible thin branch. The
subject was bound bent over a frame and the birch applied to his bare buttocks.