In the 15th century Richard Duke of Gloucester, aided by his club-footed executioner Mord, eliminates those ahead of him in succession to the throne, then occupied by his brother King ... See full summary »
Rowland V. Lee
While on a South Seas trip, a professor falls in love with marries an exotic native woman. What he doesn't know is that she was raised by superstitious natives who believe her to be some ... See full summary »
The movie was made because although the new owners of Universal Studios in 1936 were convinced that the horror genre was commercially dead, they inherited a contract stipulating Boris Karloff's participation in one more film. Carl Laemmle Jr. had signed him to this contract after the success of Frankenstein (1931), so, not knowing what other genre to put him in, they commissioned a story that would give him a suitable role but stipulated it would not be a horror film. See more »
Night Key is directed by Lloyd Corrigan and adapted to screenplay by Jack Moffitt & Tristam Tupper from a story by William A. Pierce. It stars Boris Karloff, Jean Rogers, Warren Hull and Samuel S. Hinds. Music is by Louis Forbes and cinematography by George Robinson. Plot sees Karloff as aging inventor David Mallory, who once again finds himself cheated by security business boss Stephen Ranger (Hinds). With his eyesight failing and a daughter (Rogers) he wants to set up before he passes on, Mallory decides to teach the scheming Ranger a lesson. However, the criminal element headed by The Kid (Alan Baxter) have designs on using Mallory and his "Night Key" device for their own ill gotten gains.
Well Louis! We are in.
Out of Universal Pictures, Night Key was knocked out in under a month and budgeted, unsurprisingly, on the cheap. Yet the film belies these matters to be a good old fashioned yarn for entertainment. Melodrama mixes with a touch of sci-fi as the story unfolds as an interesting character piece, the veins of which are mostly pumped by an honest versus dishonest theme. Within there's a burgeoning romance etched in to the narrative, but this is handled well by the director as it aids the flow and reason of plotting, while the odd bit of action here and there stops the film from being too staid. The effects from John P. Fulton, too, are good fun and leave a favourable mark late in the story.
Picture gets most of its strength from Karloff's performance. An undervalued talent at the best of times, Night Key gives viewers the chance to see just what he could do away from the horror iconography that defined his career. Here as the sombre and fragile David Mallory, Karloff isn't just looking the part because of make-up, he is able to match his body to the aged state of the character, simultaneously garnering great empathy from the viewers. It's a character, courtesy of performance, that firmly has us rooting for against the baddies. Around Karloff are effective turns from Rogers (bright), Hinds (weasel like), Hobart Cavanaugh (fun as the comedy side-kick, Petty Louis) and Ward Bond, who as henchman thug is an imposing presence.
It's all very daft and goes where we expect, and want, it to go, but with Karloff leading the way this is a comfortably recommended time filler. 7/10
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?