6.6/10
1,162
19 user 4 critic

The Key (1958)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, War | 6 June 1958 (UK)
During World War II, successive tugboat British Captains sent on dangerous salvage missions pass-on the key to a home-port apartment, where a lonely Swiss-Italian young war-widow lives.

Director:

Carol Reed

Writers:

Jan de Hartog (novel), Carl Foreman
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
William Holden ... Captain David Ross
Sophia Loren ... Stella
Trevor Howard ... Captain Chris Ford
Oskar Homolka ... Captain Van Dam (as Oscar Homolka)
Kieron Moore ... Kane
Bernard Lee ... Cmdr. Wadlow
Beatrix Lehmann ... Housekeeper
Noel Purcell ... Hotel Porter
Bryan Forbes ... First Mate Weaver
Sidney Vivian Sidney Vivian ... Grogan
Rupert Davies ... Baker
Russell Waters Russell Waters ... Sparks
Irene Handl ... Clerk
John Crawford ... American Captain
Jameson Clark Jameson Clark ... English Captain
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Storyline

During World War II, tugboats 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 tugboat 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 whom Stella was to be married before Phillip was killed. ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Each night she was warm and waiting for him...and then one night she drew him gently to her...calling him softly by another man's name. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 June 1958 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Stella See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Finnish censorship visa register # 49357. See more »

Goofs

When William Holden first opens the fuse box, in the lobby of the apartment to get booze, the hinge is on the left. Later in the movie, he opens it and it opens with the hinge on the right. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Captain Chris Ford: Say, can you tell me where Cmdr. Wadlow's office is?
Captain Van Dam: Has America come into the war?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in McCullin (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

The First Noel
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by a vocal group at the air raid shelter
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Neglected Masterwork
6 June 2006 | by GarranlahanSee all my reviews

An extraordinary movie in every way, from the combat scenes, which are so lifelike as virtually to constitute a documentary, to the superb acting by every single member of the cast, including each of the supporting players. But the very highest praise must go to Sophia Loren's absolutely stunning performance (not to mention her uncanny command of English at so early an age). Her quiet, dignified, and restrained interpretation of her very unusual and extremely demanding role is simply in a class by itself. I have never been able to get her graceful performance out of my mind. This is one of those movies of great merit, bewitched from the start, that simply disappear from public and critical consciousness---never to be recalled or mentioned even when, for example, the careers of Loren, Holden, or Trevor Howard are discussed. It is as if it were never made at all. A great shame.


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