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
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 »
Wait a minute, you mean I don't get to smack Baby?
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Satisfying film noir despite muddled motivations...
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.
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