IMDb > A Life at Stake (1954)

A Life at Stake (1954) More at IMDbPro »

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A Life at Stake -- A plot that revolves around an elicit affair, mysterious "accidents and events" and the idea that there is a plot to kill the main character for his insurance.


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5.7/10   235 votes »
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Russ Bender (screenplay)
Hank McCune (story)
View company contact information for A Life at Stake on IMDbPro.
A Cheat At Heart From Her Painted Toes To Her Plunging Neckline!
An out-of-work architect meets a married woman who has a business proposition for him. The architect begins to suspect the woman's interest in him is not just financial and may actually be deadly. | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Keith Andes Fascinates, Dominating This B/W Thriller--Unusual See more (15 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Angela Lansbury ... Doris Hillman
Keith Andes ... Edward Shaw

Douglass Dumbrille ... Gus Hillman
Claudia Barrett ... Madge Neilan

Jane Darwell ... Landlady
Gavin Gordon ... Sam Pearson
Charles Maxwell ... Lt. Hoff
William Henry ... Myles Norman
Kathleen Mulqueen ... Mary
Dan Sturkie ... Officer Biff
Jeane Wood ... Mabel, the maid
Robert Haver ... Mechanic

Directed by
Paul Guilfoyle 
Writing credits
Russ Bender (screenplay)

Hank McCune (story idea)

Produced by
Andy C. Burger .... associate producer (as A.C. Burger)
Charles Maxwell .... executive producer
Hank McCune .... producer
Original Music by
Les Baxter (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Ted Allan (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Frank Sullivan 
Makeup Department
Hazel Keithley .... hair stylist
Bob Mark .... makeup artist (as Robert Mark)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Marvin Stuart .... assistant director
Art Department
Robert Haver .... set designer
Sound Department
Stanford Houghton .... sound (as Stanford Haughton)
Camera and Electrical Department
Charles Beckett .... lighting
Music Department
Les Baxter .... musical director
Other crew
Maury Dexter .... dialogue supervisor
William E. Orr .... script supervisor (as William Orr)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Key Man" - USA (alternative title)
See more »
78 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

The unusual convertible Angela Lansbury drives is a Kaiser Darrin.See more »
Sam Pearson:Oh, come now, Shaw. You're not the first man who lost his shirt. I don't mean literally, of course.See more »
Summer InterludeSee more »


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8 out of 16 people found the following review useful.
Keith Andes Fascinates, Dominating This B/W Thriller--Unusual, 15 June 2005
Author: silverscreen888

It's no secret that many judge Keith Andes (by the criteria of ethical-emotional normativeness and acting prowess) to be the best actor of the past century. Because of studio politics and poor judgment--the presentation of merely pretty faces who looked good on posters as "stars"--he only played leads in fewer than 10 films; this is a very interesting one I suggest, for several reasons. Andes has been rediscovered by critics and film fans more often than Atlantis; with the exception of 2 "I Spy" episodes where they deliberately denied him the camera to set him up for a defection and future elimination, every part he ever played, by my evaluation, deserved a nomination for best actor at some length of film. Here he plays the interesting part of an architect in a B/W noir thriller. He gradually comes to believe he is going to be killed by his partners once he signs an insurance contract, ostensibly to protect their financial investment in his ability (that alone makes a new project of profitable building possible); and he is fascinating at every moment and professionally superb in a film that give him little to work with; he makes a charismatic triumph out of an underwritten cipher. Opposite him, Douglass Dumbrille is powerful as always as his backer's jealous husband, and Angle Lansbury is attractive bu no match for Andes as a siren who tempts and perhaps threatens him a the same time. As her sister, the interesting young Claudia Barrett does quite well. The serviceable direction by Paul Guilfoyle is taut, the script above average for a "B" B/W film of ant era. This is the sort of film which has seldom been made--a good piece of inexpensive storytelling carried by competent actors. But the focus is on Andes as he goes from boredom in a lonely room to temptation by Lansbury to the gradual realization that he is perhaps being set up for elimination. The violent climax is both surprising, satisfying and visually exciting; and the ending leaves viewers equally satisfied that Andes' character will receive justice, and that he has someone who genuinely cares for him. An underrated thriller that I can unreservedly recommend; I obtained it to see Andes. But this is a good story well told on screen, a true rarity when it was made, and especially in the years of badly acted and special-effects-dominated childish film-making that have been practiced since its mid-1950's release.

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