The Glass Key (1942) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A crooked politician finds himself being accused of murder by a gangster from whom he refused help during a re-election campaign.

  • 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.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • In Baltimore, political boss Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy) is head of the voter's league and pushing through the reform ticket to gain more power. When he is confronted by Janet Henry (Veronica Lake), the daughter of Politician Ralph Henry (Moroni Olsen) who is running for Governor, Medvig changes position and decides to back Henry. When the wastrel son of Henry - Taylor Henry (Richard Denning) is killed, fingers are pointed at Madvig, primarily because competing gangster Nick Varna (Joseph Calleia) has taken over a major local newspaper and is generating copy that claims Madvig's guilt. Paul Madvig's right hand man and friend Ed Beaumont (Alan Ladd) sees that Madvig is flip-flopping on his politics because he desires the charms of Janet Henry and he says so which causes the pair to break up pushing Ed to pretend to ask Varna for a job. Varna realizes that Ed isn't on the level and has his henchman Jeff (William Bendix) torture him for information. Ed escapes and gets the word to Madvig that Varna has information that can convict him but realizes that Janet Henry is too involved to ignore and actually Ed falls in love with her.

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