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The Glass Key (1942)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 23 October 1942 (USA)
A crooked politician finds himself being accused of murder by a gangster from whom he refused help during a re-election campaign.

Director:

Stuart Heisler

Writers:

Jonathan Latimer (screen play), Dashiell Hammett (based on the novel by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Brian Donlevy ... Paul Madvig
Veronica Lake ... Janet Henry
Alan Ladd ... Ed Beaumont
Bonita Granville ... Opal Madvig
Richard Denning ... Taylor Henry
Joseph Calleia ... Nick Varna
William Bendix ... Jeff
Frances Gifford ... Nurse
Donald MacBride ... Farr
Margaret Hayes ... Eloise Matthews
Moroni Olsen ... Ralph Henry
Eddie Marr Eddie Marr ... Rusty
Arthur Loft ... Clyde Matthews
George Meader George Meader ... Claude Tuttle
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tom Dugan ... Jeep (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

During the campaign for reelection, the crooked politician Paul Madvig decides to clean up his past, refusing the support of the gangster Nick Varna and associating to the respectable reformist politician Ralph Henry. When Ralph's son, Taylor Henry, a gambler and the lover of Paul's sister Opal, is murdered, Paul's right arm, Ed Beaumont, finds his body on the street. Nick uses the financial situation of The Observer to force the publisher Clyde Matthews to use the newspaper to raise the suspicion that Paul Madvig might have killed Taylor. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Tougher They Are - The Harder They Fall


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 October 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der gläserne Schlüssel See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title of this book and movie is most obscure; thankfully its meaning is described by Richard Layman in his book, Shadow Man: The life of Dashiell Hammett. A glass key symbolizes an act or experience which cannot be reversed or forgotten. It is a key made of glass which allows one entry to a room or a building but which shatters after one use. Skeleton keys were used for many years before and after this story to lock doors from both sides; hence, a skeleton key made of glass which breaks in a lock will prohibit the locking of a door and will prohibit one from leaving the room. Hence, once in the chamber one is subject to see one's choice through. See more »

Goofs

In Farr's office, when Ed is slowly tucking the anonymous letter in his inside pocket, Farr tells him he expects a visit from Nick. The camera is on Ed who abruptly takes his hand out of his inside pocket and turns to Farr, but then the camera cuts to show both him and Farr and he's still tucking the letter in his inside pocket. See more »

Quotes

Ed Beaumont: What'll we talk about?
Janet Henry: You.
[pause]
Janet Henry: Comfortable here?
Ed Beaumont: More or less.
Janet Henry: No fun?
Ed Beaumont: No fun.
Janet Henry: Hasn't your *nurse* been treating you well?
Ed Beaumont: Not as well as I'd like.
Janet Henry: Poor boy. If I'd known you were being neglected, I would have come sooner.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Pulp Cinema (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

I Remember You
(uncredited)
from The Fleet's In (1942)
Music by Victor Schertzinger
Played as background music when Opal meets Taylor
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Match made in heaven
23 August 2007 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Alan Ladd warns Brian Dennehy about "The Glass Key" in this 1942 noir also starring Veronica Lake and William Bendix. The glass key refers to a key that breaks in a lock - Ladd here is warning his boss (Brian Donlevy) to watch out for people out to get him. Donlevy is Paul Madvig, who controls a political machine and falls in love with the daughter (Lake) of a wealthy man, Ralph Henry, trying to get the benefit of Madvig's political influence. When Henry's no-good son Taylor is killed, Madvig falls under suspicion. Ladd, as his assistant Ed, works to prove his innocence.

This film is good but hard to follow. It's also cold as ice with nothing to warm it up. Ladd and Lake were one terrific team, but one could never call them warm, especially in this. It's also very violent - you practically cry out in pain when William Bendix, playing yet another whack job, beats Ed to a pulp. When Ed gets away from him, it's by throwing himself out a window - a stunning scene.

"The Glass Key" is a cross between a hard crime drama and a noir, and you couldn't ask for a more perfect actor for the noir genre than Ladd. He gives a focused, relaxed performance, saying his lines in his usual straightforward manner. He's one actor who never had to be tall to be tough or powerful, and one forgets all about his height, especially when seeing him next to tiny, gorgeous Lake. He takes some beating in this but keeps right on going. Donlevy does a good job as a political boss, and Bendix is scary. The one bad note is Granville, as Madvig's sister. She was an energetic actress who, when the director wasn't paying attention, could go way over the top in her dramatic scenes. Evidently the director was distracted.

The film has a Hollywood ending which many people won't like. Although "The Glass Key" is confusing, it's still worth watching to see the two stars at the top of their game.


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