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Vittorio De Sica,
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
'The Key" is a good movie but I sometimes wonder why so many films are made with wartime psychological themes. Probably it is simply because authors and film makers find wartime a ripe territory for drama. I have two problems with this. First, it is just too blatantly obvious that wars cause intense emotions and psychological issues. Wars always cause heroic but also desperate and aberrant human response. Second problem- war fighting is necessarily a morbid process.
Carl Forman's hard hitting style is applied to the emotional swamp that is wartime psychology in "The Key". Fortunately it is an extremely well acted film with excellent performances, and also features well staged Atlantic ocean battle sequences with real ships on the bleak, menacing North Atlantic. Wide screen black and white filming is excellent for the Atlantic war action and it is a fact that color filming is not necessary here. And black and white suits the downbeat nature of this story which will of course include nothing sunny or upbeat.
"The Key" is a serious, relentlessly grim drama that will probably hold your attention despite being a little slow in spots. Malcolm Arnold contributes one of his masterpiece film scores. Arnold was a genius.
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