Glass Key

Overview

Dashiel Hammett's The Glass Key, a tale of big-city political corruption, was first filmed in 1935, with Edward Arnold as a duplicitous political boss and George Raft as his loyal lieutenant. This 1942 remake improves on the original, especially in replacing the stolid Raft with the charismatic Alan Ladd. Brian Donlevy essays the role of the boss, who is determined to back reform candidate Moroni Olsen, despite Ladd's gut feeling that this move is a mistake. Ladd knows that Donlevy is doing a political about-face...
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Overview

Dashiel Hammett's The Glass Key, a tale of big-city political corruption, was first filmed in 1935, with Edward Arnold as a duplicitous political boss and George Raft as his loyal lieutenant. This 1942 remake improves on the original, especially in replacing the stolid Raft with the charismatic Alan Ladd. Brian Donlevy essays the role of the boss, who is determined to back reform candidate Moroni Olsen, despite Ladd's gut feeling that this move is a mistake. Ladd knows that Donlevy is doing a political about-face merely to get in solid with Olsen's pretty daughter Veronica Lake. It is Ladd who is left to clean up the mess when crime lord Joseph Calleila murders Olsen's wastrel son Richard Denning and pins the rap on Donlevy. As Ladd struggles to clear Donlevy's name, he falls in love with Lake--when he's not being pummeled about by Calleila's psychopathic henchman William Bendix. Far less complex than the Dashiel Hammett original and far less damning of the American political system, The Glass Key further increased the box-office pull of Paramount's new team of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Although the ending has been softened too much from its Dashiel Hammett source, the 1942 version of The Glass Key is still a gripping, invigorating noir thriller. Like the novel, the film gets a bit complicated in places, and some viewers may lose track of the plot at moments; but that shouldn't stop them from enjoying the ride along the way. Glass would also have been bettered served with some motivations made a bit more credible, but the fast pacing and the taut dialogue offers enough rewards that one is willing to overlook this. Besides, Glass features the second pairing of Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd, a pairing which brought out the best in both actors. There's just something about the way Lake and Ladd are when put together on screen that creates steam. His eyes can't seem to convince us they're not looking for her; her lips can't quite convince us they're satisfied being away from him -- and all this happens even before they've acknowledge any interest in each other, or any willingness to do the other in. Both of them can by icy, but we know that inside, they're willing to melt -- as long as the other melts with them. Glass also benefits from Ladd's low-key, almost unemotional playing, especially in contrast with Brian Donlevy's more outward turn. But the best performance comes from William Bendix, whose sado-masochistic beating scene is chillingly involving. Bendix is absolutely riveting, giving a disturbing performance that can't be beat.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/1/1992
  • UPC: 096898086134
  • Original Release: 1942
  • Rating:

  • Source: Universal Studios
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Brian Donlevy Paul Madvig
Veronica Lake Janet Henry
Alan Ladd Ed Beaumont
Bonita Granville Opal Madvig
William Bendix Jeff
Richard Denning Taylor Henry
Joseph Calleia Nick Vama
Frances Gifford Nurse
Donald MacBride Farr
Maggie Hayes Eloise Matthews
Moroni Olsen Ralph Henry
Eddie Marr Rusty
Arthur Loft Clyde Matthews
George Meader Claude Tuttle
William Benedict Sturdy
Conrad Binyon Stubby
Frank Bruno Reporter
Dane Clark Henry Sloss
Edmund Cobb Reporter
George Cowl 2nd Butler in Henry Home
Vernon Dent Bartender
Tom Dugan Jeep
Frank Elliott 1st Butler in Henry Home
Tom Fadden Waiter
J.C. Fowler Guests at Henry Dinner
Jack Gardner Reporter
Frank S. Hagney Groggins
Al Hill Bum
Arthur Stuart Hull
Joseph King Fisher
Jack Luden Reporter
Joe McGuinn Lynch
James Millican Politician
Jack Mulhall Lynch
Broderick O'Farrell
Tom O'Grady
Pat O'Malley Politician
Edward Peil Sr. Politician
Stanley Price
Lillian Randolph Entertainer at Basement Club
Francis Sayles Seedy Man
Charles Sullivan Taxi driver
George Turner Doctor
Norma Varden Dowager
William Wagner Butler
Fred Walburn Kid
Technical Credits
Stuart Heisler Director
Haldane Douglas Art Director
Hans Dreier Art Director
Fred Kohlmar Producer
Jonathan Latimer Screenwriter
Archie Marshek Editor
Theodor Sparkuhl Cinematographer
Victor Young Score Composer
Dashiell Hammett Source Author
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2004

    A(nother) correction

    Do these 'all movie' reviewers even watch the films? It's not crime lord Nick Varna (Calleila) who murders Janet Henry's (Lake) brother. In fact, he's never even under suspicion. I won't say who is the culprit, not that the plot is what makes this movie a treat (hint: initials V.L.). Lake was fabulous in her two 1942 films noir (the other being This Gun For Hire), but quickly went to h*ll in a handbasket and nothing else she did in her brief career even comes close. My guess is that she's entirely dependent on the chemistry with the leading man, and only sparkled opposite Ladd. Opposite Marsh in I Married a Witch, she's vapid and uninteresting, and opposite McRae in Sullivan's Travels, she's flip and erratic (except when mourning him and learning of his marriage). By the time she was rematched with Ladd in The Blue Dahlia (1946), the alchohol was already taking its toll, and she's puffy and lethargic. I see that This Gun for Hire is due out on DVD this summer. Hopefully, The Glass Key will soon follow.

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