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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 ... District Attorney 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 always aloof Alan Ladd, a former laborer, preferred the friendship of film crew than other actors or studio execs. Yet he was able to form lasting friendships with a few of his costars, especially William Bendix. Bendix accidentally cold-cocked Ladd during a particularly vicious fight scene in this film. Ladd was so taken aback by the sincerity of Bendix's apologies that they formed an immediate and unlikely friendship. They even purchased homes across the street from one another at one point. According to Bendix's wife Tess, the bond was strained in later years after Ladd's wife and manager, Sue Carol, made an offhand remark about Bendix's lack of military service. Stuck in the middle, it would be a decade before the wounds healed between the two. By then, Ladd was career down and self-destructive, leaning heavily on Bendix, who was thriving out of town frequently in the 1960s with stage work. Bendix's heartbreak was evident in the wake of Ladd's premature death (and probable suicide) in January of 1964. Bendix's health failed quickly and he too died (of bronchial pneumonia) a week or so before Christmas that same year. 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

Version of The Glass Key (1935) 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

Standard Film-Noir With Some Good Moments
16 May 2001 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

"The Glass Key" has all the elements expected in a film noir - it has an intricate crime-based plot, a fast pace, and an assortment of interesting characters who interact with each other in unpredictable ways. It is a fairly standard example of the genre, with a few particularly good moments.

The title comes from a metaphor used by one of the characters to describe the relationships at the center of the plot. Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy) is a corrupt political boss who decides to break with his past by joining with reform-minded candidate Ralph Henry, angering some of his former cronies and confusing loyal assistant Ed Beaumont (Alan Ladd). Madvig expresses confidence in his new future, saying that the upright Henry has "given me the key to his house", but Beaumont warns him that "it's a glass key - be careful it doesn't break off". The fragile nature of the relationships and careers of all of the main characters drives the action and suspense. And when Henry's wayward son turns up murdered, each character is plunged into dangerous situations.

Ladd and Donlevy are pretty good as the leads, although Veronica Lake, as candidate Henry's daughter and a focus of attention for both male leads, is somewhat lifeless in an important role, as her character is meant to drive much of the other action. The supporting cast is one of the strengths of the film. The fine character actor Joseph Calleia is excellent as a crooked businessman seeking revenge on Madvig, and William Bendix is very funny, although perhaps a bit over-the-top at times, as one of Calleia's goons.

"The Glass Key" will certainly be of interest to any film noir/crime film fan, and should be fast-paced enough to make it interesting to other viewers as well.


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