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Night Key (1937)

Approved | | Crime, Thriller | 2 May 1937 (USA)
The inventor of a new top-of-the-line burglar alarm system is kidnapped by a gang in order to get him to help them commit robberies.


Lloyd Corrigan


Tristram Tupper (screenplay), Jack Moffitt (screenplay) (as John C. Moffitt) | 1 more credit »
1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Boris Karloff ... David Mallory
Warren Hull ... Jim Travers (as J. Warren Hull)
Jean Rogers ... Joan Mallory
Alan Baxter ... John Baron aka The Kid
Hobart Cavanaugh ... Petty Louie
Samuel S. Hinds ... Stephen Ranger (as Samuel Hinds)
David Oliver ... Mike Callahan
Ward Bond ... Fingers
Frank Reicher ... Carl
Edwin Maxwell ... Kruger
Learn more

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The inventor of a new top-of-the-line burglar alarm system is kidnapped by a gang in order to get him to help them commit robberies.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


HE MADE HIS ENEMIES BEG FOR MERCY! (Print Ad- Fort dodge Messenger-Chronicle, ((Fort Dodge, Iowa)) 14 July 1937)


Crime | Thriller


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This B picture was shot in 27 days for $192,000. This was 6 days and $17,000 over the initial budget and due to director Lloyd Corrigan's inexperience and star Boris Karloff's insistence that union rules regarding an 8-hour day be obeyed. See more »


Featured in 100 Years of Horror: Boris Karloff (1996) See more »

User Reviews

Change of Pace for Karloff!
26 September 2006 | by bsmith5552See all my reviews

"Night Key" was a change of pace for Universal's horror star Boris Karloff. Playing largely horror related roles through most of the 1930's, this film offered him a chance to step out of that genre for a welcome change of pace.

Karloff plays mild mannered inventor David Mallory who lives with his daughter Jean (Jean Rogers), has invented a new "electric eye" security system. He had been cheated out of the profits of his previous wire based system by unscrupulous businessman and former friend Steven Ranger (Samuel S. Hinds). This time however, Mallory has also invented a "night key" system which disables his security systems.

Mallory's lawyer, Kruger (Edwin Maxwell) conspires with Ranger to cheat Mallory out of his rightful royalties for his new invention. With the help of petty crook Petty Louie (Hobart Cavanaugh) who he helps escape from Ranger's holding cell, the two set out to discredit Ranger's company. Meanwhile Ranger Officer Jim Travis (Warren Hull) tries to locate Mallory and in doing so falls in love with Jean.

Mallory using his "night key" disables the Ranger Security Systems of several business, taking nothing, in order to destroy consumer confidence in Ranger. A gangster, known only as "The Kid" (Alan Baxter) becomes interested in Mallory's invention. Petty Louie gives up Mallory's location thinking that the two will make some dough working for The Kid. The Kid has other ideas.

Karloff as always delivers a solid performance as the going blind inventor. No mad scientist here. The requisite romance between Rogers and Hull adds little to the story. Cavanaugh almost walks off with the film as the small time crook Petty Louie. Baxter is also good as The Kid. Ward Bond appears as one of Baxter's henchmen, Fingers. Also watch for long time character actor George Cleveland as Ranger's engineer and for "B" western fans, Roy Barcroft in an early bit as a Ranger technician.

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English | Italian

Release Date:

2 May 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alerte la nuit See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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