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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.

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(screen play), (based on the novel by)
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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

The Tougher They Are - The Harder They Fall


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 October 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der gläserne Schlüssel  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title of this book and movie is most obscure; thankfully its meaning is described by Richard Layman in his book, Shadow Man: The life of Dashiell Hammett. A glass key symbolizes an act or experience which cannot be reversed or forgotten. It is a key made of glass which allows one entry to a room or a building but which shatters after one use. Skeleton keys were used for many years before and after this story to lock doors from both sides; hence, a skeleton key made of glass which breaks in a lock will prohibit the locking of a door and will prohibit one from leaving the room. Hence, once in the chamber one is subject to see one's choice through. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Paul Madvig: Hiya, Big Brain! See what I mean?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hail, Caesar! (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

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

A legendary film noir
4 July 2004 | by (Le Carbet, Martinique FWI) – See all my reviews

Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy), a crooked politician has decided to give up his corrupted past to team up with the respectable candidate Ralph Henry for the ongoing election. As an example of his new ethics, he refuses to protect the clandestine place of Nick Varna by giving a call to the Police in the presence of Nick Varna and Paul's personal hired man Ed Beaumont telling the cops to prepare a visit to this gambling place. Things get complicated when Ralph Henry's son is discovered dead by Ed Beaumont probably murdered in front of Paul Madvig's place. Taylor had a gambling problem and was in love with Paul Madvig's young sister Opal ‘Snip' Madvig. Paul is a first choice suspect, at least to the local journal but did Paul really do it? Who is he protecting? And who is writing these nasty anonymous letters?

This is truly a classic Hollywood film noir. The plot is harder to follow than in the Blue Dahlia, but this is nonetheless a high standard movie. The acting, the dialogues and the directing are all good and playful. This is one of the movies where Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake chemistry first exploded. Just have a look at the first scene when they meet: she gives Ladd sultry looks when Paul Madvig is doing all the talking. I had a hard time concentrating on the discussion at this point. You know that these two will go a long way, even when at some point in the movie, she becomes engaged to Paul and that their relationship becomes more difficult. Veronica Lake is absolutely beautiful in this movie. Her looks are very suggestive and her husky voice is the sweetest. During this movie, you will see Lake kissing Ladd, but it's only a one way kiss. I just saw this movie last night in Oak Street Cinema (Minneapolis) and the audience enjoyed it very much until the very end, and so shall everybody. A classic film noir. Highly recommended 8/10.


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