6.7/10
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The Key (1958)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, War | 1 September 1958 (Italy)
During WW2, successive tug boat British captains sent on dangerous salvage missions pass-on the key to a home-port apartment where a lonely Swiss-Italian young war-widow lives.

Director:

Writers:

(novel),
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Capt. Chris Ford
...
Capt. Van Dam (as Oscar Homolka)
...
Kane
...
Cmdr. Wadlow
Beatrix Lehmann ...
Housekeeper
...
Hotel Porter
Bryan Forbes ...
Weaver
Sidney Vivian ...
Grogan
Rupert Davies ...
Baker
Russell Waters ...
Sparks
...
Clerk
...
American Captain
Jameson Clark ...
English Captain
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Storyline

During World War II, tug boats conduct what are called salvage missions - picking up disabled ships. Not well equipped with weaponry, the tugs are sitting ducks for enemy fire. As such, the crew working the tugs have precarious lives, many with deep seated emotional problems. Before the Americans join the war, ex-American military man David Ross is assigned to captain a tug for the British military. He is shown the ropes by an old friend, Captain Chris Ford. Chris currently shares a flat with a young beautiful Italian-Swiss woman named Stella, who came with the flat and who lives a reclusive life there. Chris is the latest in a long line of tug boat captains who have lived there, each who has found another person to take over the flat and the associated looking after of Stella if anything is to happen to him. That person is given a key to the flat, the key only to be used if needed. The first in the series was Phillip Westerby, to who Stella was to be married before Phillip was killed... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"with this key I thee wed." See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

1 September 1958 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Stella  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Kieron Moore was second choice for Kane. See more »

Goofs

Later in the movie, when they show "the key" in William Holden's hand, the key is smooth, with no cuts. It wouldn't open any lock, anywhere. See more »

Connections

Referenced in McCullin (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

The First Noel
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by a vocal group at the air raid shelter
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Lots of talent but modest results
19 April 2004 | by (Minneapolis) – See all my reviews

It's both surprising and disappointing that this 1958 film has been virtually forgotten. If for no other reason than the amount of talent involved in its making, it deserves continuing recognition. The script, for example, came from Carl Foreman, (adapted from a Jan de Hartog novel), Sir Carol Reed directed, Malcolm Arnold provided the score and Oswald Morris photographed in black-and-white CinemaScope. Heading the cast are William Holden, just fading from his #1 status, and Sophia Loren, just nearing her #1 status. Trevor Howard provides fine support.

Despite all these assets, however, the movie doesn't quite take off. It's consistently interesting but never really engrossing. Scenes alternate between wartime action in the Atlantic and domestic drama inside a small apartment but neither aspect of the movie seems to provide it with a solid core. It all somehow seems a bit tentative and slightly oblique.

Michael Caine is said to play a small part here. William Holden has a brief shirtless scene which indicates, at the time of filming, he was still in his shaved-chest mode.


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