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
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 »
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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