7.1/10
5,205
68 user 52 critic

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:

The Glass Key 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 Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on July 22, 1946 with Alan Ladd reprising his film role. 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

Paul Madvig: I'm going to society. He's practically given me the key to his house.
Ed Beaumont: Yeah, a glass key. Be sure it doesn't break in your hand.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Letter from an Unknown Woman (2004) 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

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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