64 user 40 critic

The Glass Key (1942)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 23 October 1942 (USA)
A crooked politician finds himself being accused of murder by a gangster from whom he refused help during a re-election campaign.



(screen play), (based on the novel by)
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An ex-bomber pilot is suspected of murdering his unfaithful wife.

Director: George Marshall
Stars: Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

When assassin Philip Raven shoots a blackmailer and his beautiful female companion dead, he is paid off in marked bills by his treasonous employer who is working with foreign spies.

Director: Frank Tuttle
Stars: Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Robert Preston
The Big Clock (1948)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A career-oriented magazine editor finds himself on the run when he discovers his boss is framing him for murder.

Director: John Farrow
Stars: Ray Milland, Maureen O'Sullivan, Charles Laughton
Phantom Lady (1944)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A beautiful secretary risks her life to try to find the elusive woman who may prove her boss didn't murder his selfish wife.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Franchot Tone, Ella Raines, Alan Curtis
Crossfire (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A man is murdered, apparently by one of a group of soldiers just out of the army. But which one? And why?

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan
Criss Cross (1949)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An armored truck driver and his lovely ex-wife conspire with a gang to have his own truck robbed on the route.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea
The Killers (1946)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Hit men kill an unresisting victim, and investigator Reardon uncovers his past involvement with beautiful, deadly Kitty Collins.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien
The Big Steal (1949)
Crime | Film-Noir | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An army lieutenant accused of robbery pursues the real thief on a frantic chase through Mexico aided by the thief's fiancee.

Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, William Bendix
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Why is Inspector Ed Cornell trying to railroad Frankie Christopher for the murder of model Vicky Lynn?

Director: H. Bruce Humberstone
Stars: Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Carole Landis
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Through a fluke circumstance a ruthless woman stumbles across a suitcase filled with $60,000, and she is determined to hold onto it even it if means murder.

Director: Byron Haskin
Stars: Lizabeth Scott, Don DeFore, Dan Duryea
Pitfall (1948)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Insurance executive John Forbes falls for femme fatale Mona Stevens while her boyfriend is in jail and he suffers serious consequences as a result.

Director: André De Toth
Stars: Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt
Kiss of Death (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

With his law-breaking lifestyle in the past, an ex-con, along with his family, attempt to start a new life, knowing a betrayed someone from the past is bound to see otherwise.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: Victor Mature, Brian Donlevy, Coleen Gray


Complete credited cast:
Donald MacBride ...
Ralph Henry
Eddie Marr ...
Arthur Loft ...
Clyde Matthews
George Meader ...
Claude Tuttle
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jeep (scenes deleted)


During the campaign for reelection, the crooked politician Paul Madvig decides to clean up his past, refusing the support of the gangster Nick Varna and associating to the respectable reformist politician Ralph Henry. When Ralph's son, Taylor Henry, a gambler and the lover of Paul's sister Opal, is murdered, Paul's right arm, Ed Beaumont, finds his body on the street. Nick uses the financial situation of The Observer to force the publisher Clyde Matthews to use the newspaper to raise the suspicion that Paul Madvig might have killed Taylor. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Tougher They Are - The Harder They Fall


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

23 October 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der gläserne Schlüssel  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The always aloof Alan Ladd, a former laborer, preferred the friendship of film crew than other actors or studio execs. Yet he was able to form lasting friendships with a few of his costars, especially William Bendix. Bendix accidentally cold-cocked Ladd during a particularly vicious fight scene in this film. Ladd was so taken aback by the sincerity of Bendix's apologies that they formed an immediate and unlikely friendship. They even purchased homes across the street from one another at one point. According to Bendix's wife Tess, the bond was strained in later years after Ladd's wife and manager, Sue Carol, made an offhand remark about Bendix's lack of military service. Stuck in the middle, it would be a decade before the wounds healed between the two. By then, Ladd was career down and self-destructive, leaning heavily on Bendix, who was thriving out of town frequently in the 1960s with stage work. Bendix's heartbreak was evident in the wake of Ladd's premature death (and probable suicide) in January of 1964. Bendix's health failed quickly and he too died (of bronchial pneumonia) a week or so before Christmas that same year. See more »


In Farr's office, when Ed is slowly tucking the anonymous letter in his inside pocket, Farr tells him he expects a visit from Nick. The camera is on Ed who abruptly takes his hand out of his inside pocket and turns to Farr, but then the camera cuts to show both him and Farr and he's still tucking the letter in his inside pocket. See more »


Jeff: Wait a minute, you mean I don't get to smack Baby?
See more »


Referenced in Letter from an Unknown Woman (2004) See more »


I Remember You
from The Fleet's In (1942)
Music by Victor Schertzinger
Played as background music when Opal meets Taylor
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Satisfying film noir despite muddled motivations...
18 December 2002 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

What holds interest in THE GLASS KEY is not the convoluted plot full of red herrings (until the murderer is unmasked), but the performances of the three leads--Brian Donlevy, Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd. Ladd and Lake have some good chemistry going here, especially in the scene where they first meet and find themselves immediately attracted--a flirting encounter that director Stuart Heisler uses to catch every glimmer of their star appeal as a team.

Everyone takes some hard physical stunts. Lake's sock to the jaw when she encounters Brian Donlevy (as a crooked politician) turned out to be a real one. (She told him she didn't know how to pull punches). Dane Clark (in an unbilled early role) gets shoved through a plate glass window by Donlevy and into a pool. And Alan Ladd takes a brutal beating from William Bendix that is painful to even watch, it's brutally realistic. Ladd's "beating" make-up deserved an Oscar. His escape out of a broken window has him falling off an awning and crashing through the ceiling where a family is having dinner.

Richard Denning has a brief role as Bonita Granville's unfortunate brother who gets killed off early in the proceedings. No use telling the plot outline--just be ready to watch the film for its authentic '40s film noir style--crisp B&W photography full of menacing shadows and some unpredictable twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end. Ladd's icy calm is a little too guarded but watch him in the scene where Bendix takes him upstairs for a drink. Their contrasting acting styles are fun to watch--and Ladd manages to steal the scene with his underplayed cat-and-mouse expression as he casually toys with a glass or a bottle.

For fans of Ladd and Lake, a good one--but personally I liked the story of THE BLUE DAHLIA better with a plot easier to follow.

33 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Overrated. boirin
blues singer? chezztone
Who owns the DVD rights? tdefores
Tony Curtis??? hogeezer
Witness Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Who played the last bartender? toff-2
Discuss The Glass Key (1942) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: