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Key to the City
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Key to the City More at IMDbPro »

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25 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Lighthearted Comedy Silly, but Endearing!

8/10
Author: Ben Burgraff (cariart) from Las Vegas, Nevada
9 December 2003

KEY TO THE CITY is certainly a lighthearted, if occasionally lightheaded comedy about a Mayors' Conference in San Francisco, but it is also great fun, and a throwback to Clark Gable's enjoyable comic work of the 1930s. Since 'the King' had returned from wartime service, his films had all been preachy and somber (perhaps in deference to the continuing sense of loss he felt over the death of his wife, Carole Lombard, or, more likely, because MGM simply hadn't figured out how to best utilize the older, more care-worn veteran star), and you can see that he's enjoying every moment portraying a ruggedly virile 'Longshoreman Mayor'. Casting Loretta Young as his co-star certainly helped, as the pair had quite a history together!

Young had been a 'star' since childhood, sort of the Jodie Foster/Diane Lane of her day, and had often been attracted to her older leading men. Marrying co-star Grant Withers at 17 (it was soon annulled), she then became involved in a scandalous affair with Spencer Tracy during the filming of A MAN'S CASTLE, which ended badly when Tracy, a devout Catholic, refused to divorce his wife. At 22, she made CALL OF THE WILD with the 34-year-old Gable, and was soon pregnant with his child (after shooting ended, she took a long leave of absence for 'health' reasons, and gave birth to a girl, who she eventually adopted). Gable knew of his daughter, although the threat of scandal kept both stars silent (a child born out of wedlock would have destroyed both of their careers), creating a 'bond' between Young and Gable that surpassed any of his other co-stars. At 37 when KEY TO THE CITY was filmed, Young, by now an Oscar-winner and screen legend, was still radiantly beautiful, and the sexual chemistry between the stars was genuine. As a good-hearted but repressed New England mayor, she brought out his 'nobler' qualities, as he aroused her 'baser' desires.

One of the joys of KEY TO THE CITY is getting to see so many of MGM's legendary 'stock' company, late in their careers, but still giving 'first-rate' performances. Frank 'Wizard of Oz' Morgan, Lewis 'Judge Hardy' Stone, James 'Pop Corkle' Gleason, Raymond 'His Honor' Walburn, and Clara 'Auntie Em' Blandick all shine, as do 'future stars' Marilyn Maxwell (as a sexy dancer) and Raymond Burr, who is simply terrific as Gable's corrupt nemesis. Watch carefully, and you'll also spot veteran Western star Jack Elam, and future 'My Favorite Martian' leading lady, Pamela Britton, in small roles, early in their careers.

While some moments (Gable dressed as the 'Blue Boy', for example) are downright silly, and the climax, a 'no-holds-barred' fistfight between Gable and Burr (and Young and Maxwell), stretches credibility well past the breaking point, the film never loses it's sense of fun. This is the Gable of legend, looking good, "cracking wise", and unafraid to 'size up' a woman, or cut an opponent 'down to size'.

Definitely worth watching!

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16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Key to the City, Key to their Hearts

6/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
27 August 2007

Fifteen years earlier Clark Gable and Loretta Young did Call of the Wild for her studio which was then 20th Century Fox. They had a most discreet affair which resulted in the birth of Young's daughter Judy. Back in those days Young indulged in an elaborate charade and 'adopted' her own daughter as a single mother.

Nothing quite as earth shattering as that happened on the set of Key to the City which was made for Gable's MGM. Still it's an interesting comedy drama about a pair of small city mayors who meet at a convention in San Francisco and fall in love.

Young is a proper New England mayor from an old stock family in Wynona, Maine. Gable is mayor of the small city of Puget City on the Pacific coast and started out as a longshoreman. He ran on a reform ticket, but the special interests that he beat are still very much alive and represented here in the person of sinister Raymond Burr.

It's a convention and people kind of let their hair down at conventions, Clark and Loretta are no different. And San Francisco is quite the romantic town.

One of MGM's most beloved players, Frank Morgan, plays Gable's fire chief complete with brogue and all. It was one of his last films and Morgan kind of borrows a bit from Ed Wynn and his famous Texaco fire chief from radio.

Also featured well is Lewis Stone as Young's uncle, a federal judge and a most proper and aristocratic gentlemen and Marilyn Maxwell who Gable rejects for Young and is determined to get a little payback. Highlight of the film is the chick fight going on between Young and Maxwell while Gable and Burr are slugging it out.

Key to the City is not on the top ten or even top twenty of either Clark Gable or Loretta Young's film credits. But it is still quite amusing even after almost 60 years.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

fun to watch but 100% ORDINARY

5/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
18 March 2006

This movie is pretty good but falls into a period of Glark Gable's career when many of his films just looked like they were quickly churned out and could have been a lot better if they had a little bit better writing and if there was more energy to the film itself. In other words, Clark Gable and cast seem more like they are going through the motions to get a paycheck and this film offers nothing particularly new or exciting. In fact, the film is a step back because the plot seems even more trivial and forgettable than most of his films of the day. You would think that with Loretta Young and Clark Gable you'd get a film that is more than just a time-passer--particularly when you think of how marvelous they were together in CALL OF THE WILD. This film is for fans of Gable or Young but is pretty skipable for others.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Minor comedy notable for its cast

6/10
Author: jjnxn-1 from United States
10 October 2013

Ordinary comedy of note more for its cast than any special quality the film itself possesses. Gable and Loretta Young are reunited for the only time after their torrid affair on the set of Call of the Wild resulted in a secret child who was one of Hollywood's most notorious open secrets. This was also Frank Morgan's final completed film, he started work on the disastrous Judy Garland version of Annie Get Your Gun but suffered a heart attack and passed away before the film was restarted with Betty Hutton. As for this picture's story its a bunch of silly nonsense of misunderstandings but the cast give it a game reading and Gable and Young have a good on screen rapport.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

typical '50s fluff

6/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
25 December 2012

Clark Gable and Loretta Young star in "Key to the City," a 1950 film featuring Frank Morgan, Marilyn Maxwell, and Raymond Burr.

Young plays Clarissa Standish, a somewhat uptight small-town mayor who attends a gubernatorial convention in San Francisco and runs into the somewhat wilder Mayor of Puget Sound, Steve Fisk (Gable). Before you know it, the two are innocently involved in one scandal after another, the first when a night club they are in is raided, and the second when they're both wearing Halloween costumes and a policeman thinks Fisk is trying to force himself on a young girl, Clarissa being in a little girl costume. Despite Clarissa's exasperation with Fisk, she falls for him.

This is a cute, predictable comedy starring two of the most attractive people from Hollywood's golden era, both of whom still look great, but who are now forced into inferior fare. Films were competing with television, so they were trying to be more like television, right down to the black and white film. This was the type of film producers gave older actresses: Claudette Colbert, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Young; all but Colbert and Crawford would go on to have tremendous success in television.

One bad section: the fight between Gable and Burr. The doubles for them were horrendous,looking nothing like them, making the scene ridiculous.

Mildly enjoyable, with the performances by Gable, Young, and Morgan elevating it.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Key to the City Can't Unlock This Movie Door **1/2

5/10
Author: edwagreen from United States
6 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Clark Gable must have felt some nostalgia when he heard the song San Francisco played in this film. It certainly must have brought back memories of the classic 1936 film with that name with his co-stars Spencer Tracy and Jeanette MacDonald.

On the other hand, we have a silly little film where Gable and Loretta Young play 2 mayors who meet and fall in love at a San Francisco convention. Along the way, they fumble into difficulty where they keep being sent downtown to the local jail.

The movie would have even been better if they had concentrated on the political corruption that Mayor Fisk, (Gable) had encountered with a very corrupt Raymond Burr, the latter working for a terribly corrupt party boss.

Of course, speaking of fumbling, Gable and Young do just that into falling in love. Clara Blandick, Lewis Stone, Marilyn Maxwell, and Frank Morgan provide ample support, but we essentially have an inane story here.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Great 1950 Classic

6/10
Author: whpratt1 from United States
1 September 2007

This is a very entertaining film with two great actors, Clark Gable, (Steve Fisk) and Loretta Young,(Clarissa Standish) who performed like magic together in this film. These two actors made this film a great success with lots of laughs, romance and drama. In real life, Clark Gable and Loretta Young had a baby and kept it a secret until many years later. This warm feeling between these two actors made this film even more enjoyable. Frank Morgan, (Fire Chief Duggan) gave a great supporting role and lots of comic fun to this film along with Marilyn Maxwell, (Sheila) who played a sexy role as a platinum blonde who did a balloon dance with the balloons all being exploded. Raymond Burr, (Les Taggart) plays a rough and tough longshoreman who gets into a big fight with Steve Fisk. There is nice old scenes from San Francisco and this is truly a great film classic from 1950.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great cast,funniest Clark Gable since "It Happened One Night"

Author: repete_recording from Back home again in Indiana, United States
28 February 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In my opinion,this is one of the best movie pairings I've seen. Clark Gable and Loretta Young have great chemistry together.In fact,I think Gable may be at his zaniest here,and I like his performance more than any of his other films I've seen. Loretta Young also surprised me here; she shows she is capable of comedy equal to any of Gable's other costars. *Warning readers-spoilers ahead* Her fight scene with Marilyn Maxwell (as Sheila the 'Atom' Dancer)is a hoot! I'd never have believed Loretta Young would do wrestling throws. I also enjoyed Raymond Burr playing the bad guy,and his fight with Gable made me forget this was a comedy/romance for a while. Frank Morgan(the Wizard of Oz) is also wonderful as ding-a-ling Fire Chief Duggan. One last thing,the music ties in with San Francisco very well,no wonder since the composer of the song "San Francisco", Walter Jurmann is listed in the credits for original music! I could go on and on,but I hope I've changed your opinion about seeing this movie.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Some Fun, But More Bad Taste

5/10
Author: roslein-674-874556
22 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For those who know that Loretta Young had an affair with Clark Gable many years before this movie, when he was married, and had a daughter whom she pretended she adopted, their romantic pairing here may seem embarrassing rather than exciting. What's also awkward is that both too old for the silly incidents that make up the he-man vs. beautiful spinster plot: woman embarrassed by sexy dance in nightclub, people arrested by mistake, man thrown into fountain. The dumb joke of people talking at cross-purposes (respectable woman mistaken for party girl, men in adjoining phone booths not realising they are talking to each other) is repeated again and again. They are also too old to fall in love and decide to get married on the same night--by the standards of the time, Young, at 37, would have been, like Gable at 49, middle aged. And both are too old to be resolving matters with a knock-down, drag-out fight (Young with Marilyn Maxwell, Gable with Raymond Burr) that is very obviously performed with stand-ins. Two references to earlier Gable greats (Young plays "San Francisco" on the piano during a nightclub riot, Gable threatens to break a woman's bedroom door down, as he did in Gone with the Wind) are not cheekily amusing, just depressing reminders of much better movies.

In a way, the worst thing about the movie is the way it exemplifies its time. It's so Fifties! Although Young has devoted her life to public service, Clark Gable just has to kiss her and she can't wait to throw over her career and start baking cookies. The lazy direction, lacking rhythm and snap, of this story full of holes, that invites us to laugh at grownups acting silly is typical of that patronising, anti- intellectual decade.

On the plus side, there are some clever lines and a good cast of supporting players, including Raymond Walburn and Jimmy Gleason. I don't include among them Frank Morgan (the Wizard of Oz), doing his tongue- tied, fumble-thumbs schtick for the umpteenth time. Am I the only one who thinks he acts like a child molester?

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Loretta and Clark in Mayoral Scandal

5/10
Author: wes-connors from Los Angeles
28 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Clark Gable and Loretta Young look MGM production perfect as they play two Mayors who meet at a convention in San Francisco. Mr. Gable is the rough one, ex-longshoreman Steve Fisk. Ms. Young is the softer focused Clarissa Standish. The well-named twosome clash, of course, during the Mayoral proceedings - but, can romance be far behind?

It's an average film for the two stars. Recommended scenes: the "Balloon Dance" woman who loses most of her balloons, and the "Barroom Brawl" which follows. All that gets Young in trouble with her constituents. Notable also as Frank Morgan's final film. Gable tussles Mr. Morgan's hair.

***** Key to the City (1950) George Sidney ~ Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Frank Morgan

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