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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.

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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
...
Weaver
Sidney Vivian ...
Grogan
...
Baker
Russell Waters ...
Sparks
...
Clerk
...
American Captain
...
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:

He had the life expectancy of a match... 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

Gary Cooper was Carl Foreman's first choice for the lead. See more »

Goofs

Chris accidentally drenches his shirt in red wine. But in the next shot his undershirt is clean and dry, with no sign of inevitable wine stains. See more »

Connections

Referenced in McCullin (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Lambeth Walk
(uncredited)
Music by Noel Gay
Lyrics by Douglas Furber
Sung by the customers at the dance hall
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Enlightening chapter on little known WW II operations
12 June 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

If I were to explain to someone this film's plot in a nutshell, some church lady and maybe others will label this film as some kind of a pinnacle of adultery. In reality any sexual content is needed to add to the hopelessness faced by those who heroically undertook to save the lives of the English, Danish, Swedes, Americans, surviving Nazi attacks on North Sea shipping. You compare the brave men facing extremely high odds of losing their lives in the rescues to the first Marines on the Normandy beaches on June 7, 1944, seen in "The Longest Day", or the B-17 pilots engaged in daylight bombing as portrayed in "12 O' Clock High". This is a war film only slightly just as "Barefoot in the Park" is not a movie about a park. The Key is not listed with all the other WW II movies, because it's less war than a study in how one copes with certain death. Ms Loren is at her best playing the girl who goes with the apartment, Trevor Howard, the British steady in almost every WW II classic is superb. The next holder of the "Key" is Sunset Blvd.'s William Holden, playing the same brooding, sullen, character we are used to. I'm close to adding Mr. Holden to the list of actors playing themselves along with Dean Martin, Burt Reynolds, Gig Young, and many others. However at the end, you are victim of a huge surprise, when a battle battered, nearly drowned, Holden unexpectedly returns to the apartment, to find the next in line already holding court. He breaks with his type casting at that point and you're treated to a great ending. Not wanting to reveal the entire idea behind the key, I'm been very vague, but as I added the characters and the roles they played, I've created more confusion than I intended. Let me try to do a short outline on The Key. A rescue boat captain rents an apartment near the South Hampton docks, which includes the beautiful Sophia Loren. Knowing his life has "the same length as a lit match", he copies the key forcing it on a close friend, so that friend, (also a rescue boat captain) may take over the apartment in the occasion of his death. The process repeats itself three times when Trevor Howard becomes the key holder, and the film picks up here. On the very day the Howard character has set to marry the Ms. Loren character the film becomes a hanky grabber. You may only be able to catch this great movie on TCM, but if you are a fan of Loren, Howard or Holden, DO NOT miss it. You will be touched, saddened, then given a good dose of hope.


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