6.7/10
1,086
19 user 3 critic

The Key (1958)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, War | 6 June 1958 (UK)
During WW2, successive tug boat 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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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
William Holden ... Capt. David Ross
Sophia Loren ... Stella
Trevor Howard ... Capt. Chris Ford
Oskar Homolka ... Capt. Van Dam (as Oscar Homolka)
Kieron Moore ... Kane
Bernard Lee ... Cmdr. Wadlow
Beatrix Lehmann ... Housekeeper
Noel Purcell ... Hotel Porter
Bryan Forbes ... 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, tug boats 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 tug boat 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 who Stella was to be married before Phillip was killed... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He had the life expectancy of a match... 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

The tug used in the film was HMS Restive (HMT W 39), a Royal Navy Rescue Tug of the Assurance class. This class of tugs was built between 1940 and 1943. With a 1350 horsepower engine, these tugs could make 14 knots and were powerful enough to haul just about any capital ship back to port. Five (out of twenty-one built) were lost during the war. The ship numbers used in the film (W 83, W 86 and W 88) were not used by any ship of this class during the war. See more »

Goofs

Chris accidentally drenches his shirt in red wine. But in the next shot his undershirt is clean and dry, with no sign of inevitable wine stains. 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

 
Was Sophia a Jinx?
29 July 2004 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

This is a curious film. A gritty, tough realistic movie during the action sequences at sea, but when the story shifts to land and Sophia Loren and the men her life, it's dull and lifeless.

Trevor Howard and Bill Holden are men numbers three and four in refugee Sophia Loren's life. The key is the key to her apartment which the guys make duplicates of and pass on to friends. Right after that's done, the giver is killed at sea.

Howard and Holden are tugboat captains assigned to tugs who go out to the open sea and pick up crippled freighters bringing needed war supplies to Great Britain during World War II and tow them in. The tugs are poorly armed and barely sea worthy and are easy marks for the

Germans. It's hard tough work and director Carol Reed does a superb job showing that. This is one of the least glamorized war movies I've ever seen. The men are fatalistic to say the least, but especially around Sophia as if the Nazis weren't enough to worry about.

Sophia Loren is a lovely thing of beauty and certainly a pleasure to watch, but her scenes with her two male co-stars have absolutely no spark at all.

If you watch this I recommend you fast forward the romance and get to the action.


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