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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

Nick Varna: You talk too much with your mouth, Jeff.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Maltin on Movies: Gangster Squad (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

I Don't Want to Walk Without You
(uncredited)
from Sweater Girl (1942)
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Played on piano and sung by Lillian Randolph in the Basement Club
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Reaching For Some Class
23 November 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

In watching this and the first film version of The Glass Key you have to wonder why Brian Donlevy is making an alliance with the 'reform' forces led by Senator Moroni Olsen. The way I see it, Donlevy is a mug and he knows it, but he figures he'll step up in society if allies himself with the right people. It's the only explanation that makes sense for Donlevy to cut loose from gambling czar Joseph Calleia.

Everybody in Donlevy's family is getting involved with Olsen. Donlevy's taken a shine to daughter Veronica Lake who can't stand him, but will put up with it for her father's sake. Donlevy's sister Bonita Granville is involved with Olsen's playboy son Richard Denning, not something that Donlevy approves of. When Denning turns up dead all kinds of questions are raised.

Donlevy has someone on his payroll who takes care of these problems, Alan Ladd and Ladd's not particularly squeamish about the legalities of things. He starts investigating and at the same time tries to protect his boss's reputation. Not so easy as he finds out.

This was the second teaming Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd and they clicked as well as they did in This Gun For Hire. It was also the first time that Alan Ladd and William Bendix worked together on a film. Bendix became one of Ladd's best friends on the Paramount lot and his widow Tess Bendix was a prime source for Beverly Linet's revealing biography of Alan Ladd. Bendix portrays a truly malevolent thug who works for Calleia and he's pretty frightening. One of the best examples of a sadist ever done on the screen.

My personal favorite in this film besides Bendix is Joseph Calleia the racketeer kingpin of the city. He's one slick article as he usually is in most of his films and his fate is determined by something he really could not have foreseen.

The story by Dashiell Hammett on which this is based really does show how close politics and the criminal element mix, even the so-called 'reform' element. Even law enforcement is afraid to move here as typified by the very political district attorney Donald MacBride. He's not one to move against the local power structure unless he has to.

This version of The Glass Key is not too different from the 1935 version that starred George Raft and Edward Arnold. This one is seen more often and shows that corruption can be quite systemic in some of our local governments. Pity the poor voters.


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