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Right Hand/Left Hand

Posted by Harikrishnan Menon on March 07, 2003

In Reply to: Right Hand/Left Hand posted by R. Berg on March 07, 2003

: Without benefit of having seen the movie, I venture a guess that the writer had in mind the common expression "The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing," meaning that a person's or organization's behavior is contradictory or inconsistent.

The original quote from the Bible reads: "When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret..." Here, it clearly means "don't do something good with publicity in mind".
However, it doesn't make much sense in the film's context, unless Lancaster meant to say he's been exceptionally selfless and charitable for thirty years. This seems most unlikely, considering that Lancaster's character (newsman JJ Hunsecker) is based on notorious gossip columnist Walter Winchell (1897-1972) who was not by any account America's Sweetheart.