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
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A physician on death row for a mercy killing is allowed to experiment on a serum using a criminals' blood, but secretly tests it on himself. He gets a pardon, but finds out he's become a Jekyll-&-Hyde.
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 although starring Boris Karloff in the prime of his horror film stardom is far from that. In this film Karloff plays an inventor who was ruined by the head of a security firm Samuel S. Hinds who stole a security system that could have made Karloff millions. Hinds made the millions and Karloff and his daughter Jean Rogers barely scraped by.
Now he goes and does it again even buying off Karloff's lawyer. This time Boris ain't taking it lying down. He's invented an electronic box he calls his Night Key that allows him to bypass and have all kinds of fun with the security system he created for Hinds. His first trick is to let out petty crook Hobart Cavanaugh from the cell Hinds was holding him for the cops. That's a great sequence and thoroughly embarrassing to the man who made millions on Karloff's ideas.
Cavanaugh who made a career out of playing drunks attachés himself to Karloff like a puppy and promises to introduce him to some big time crooks. Alan Baxter certainly sees all kinds of possibilities here, but a life of crime isn't what Karloff had in mind.
Instead of being a monstrously evil man Boris is a gentle old soul who just wants what is due him. There's also a reason behind what Hinds is doing to ruin Karloff at every opportunity, it's more than capitalistic greed.
Karloff is not frightening anyone in this film. Night Key even has a happy ending. Not too many Karloff films have that for him.
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