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The Glass Key [DVD]
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Definitive '40's Ladd/Lake noir, based on Dashiell Hammett book of the same name. Fairly formulaic detective/political drama for the times, said to be the inspiration behind not only Kurosawa's 'Yojimbo' (1961) but also for the Cohen Brothers' 'Miller's Crossing' (1990). Local politician Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy) built his little empire by turning a blind eye and granting favors to low class criminals like Nick Varna (Joseph Calleia), but decides to back the anti-mob reform candidate, Ralph Henry, in the governor's race after he gets a look at Henry's daughter Janet (Lake). Things turn ugly when Madvig tries to stop his baby sister (Bonita Granville) from dating Janet's brother Taylor (Richard Denning), a young man with no future and a ton of gambling debts. When Taylor is found murdered, it's up to Madvig's hired muscle Ed Beaumont (Ladd) to prove Madvig's innocence before Varna and his newspaper friends railroad Madvig into the big house as payback for all the trouble he's causing them. Ladd and Lake, incidentally, end up together, if it needs saying!
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Top Customer Reviews
We're talking about Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy), a big-time gambler and enforcer who has moved into big-time politics, and Ed Beaumont (Alan Ladd), his right-hand man. This bond of trust and friendship between the two is one of the movie's major themes. It's the engine that drives the movie. Madvig is a tough, cheerful guy who can use his fists or a threat or use a pay-off to get his way. Surprisingly, he's backing a reform candidate for governor. He's gone so far as to shut down illegal gambling operations, which has made a dangerous enemy of gambler Nick Varna (Joseph Calliea). Even more surprisingly, Madvig has fallen for his candidate's daughter, Janet Henry (Veronica Lake).
Beaumont, on the other hand, is a taciturn hard case. He's no one's fool. He's smarter, or at least shrewder, than Madvig. His loyalty to Madvig is complete but he never hesitates to try to talk sense to Madvig. At one point Madvig is bragging about his entry into high society and respectable politics with his association with the candidate he's backing. "I'm going to society, " he says to Beaumont. "He's practically given me the key to his house." Says Beaumont, "Yeah, a glass key.Read more ›
The Universal DVD from Great Britain is a decent if unexceptional transfer.
This movie was supposed to be the one that made it for both Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd. They are also together in the film "This Gun for Hire." I did not read the book but Dash-it-all Hammett is usually a lot darker and his characters are usually a lot sleazier. The only really dark scene was probably the encounter between Ed Beaumont and Jeff. The mystery was good. The who-done-it and why lasted up to the end.
What ever happened to William Bendix the bartender in "Boys' Night Out" (1962) and "Life of Riley (1953)"? I always thought of him as a good guy. Boy, this shatters my image of him.
I Married a Witch ~ Veronica Lake
On the face of it, "The Glass Key" is a standard noir. It deals with the efforts of gangster Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy) to leave his sleazy, two-fisted past behind and break into legitimate big-time politics. Madvig also falls for the young and glamorous Janet (Veronica Lake). This liaison is frowned upon by Ed Beaumont (Alan Ladd), Madvig's minder. Beaumont and Janet have an instant and strong mutual attraction. But Beaumont doesn't trust her, feeling that she is using Madvig.
That is a simplified version of what is an unusually complex plot, even for a noir. However, what really stand out are three things; the Lighting, and the performances of Ladd and Bendix.
The Lighting? Well, we all know that the term "Noir" refers more to the moral tone of a film than to its cinematic presentation, though the moody shadow-effects typical of the genre go hand-in-hand with, and are symbolic of, the dark tone of the films' subject-matter. But this film is practically neon-lit all the way through. There are no deep shadows anywhere in it, just bright lights everywhere, so sometimes you wonder if you haven't you've slipped into one of the "Thin Man" films, or maybe a Claudette Colbert comedy.
Then there is Alan Ladd's performance. Usually more wooden than the Armada (there was a joke that Ladd had only two expressions, hat on and hat off), here he puts a sinister twist on his usual dendrological immobility.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Terribly wooden performances by both Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. A pity, as it's a great sory by Dashiell Hammett. Enough to warrant a view though.Published 3 months ago by M.Wright
This story takes place in the political world of re-election and it’s full of complications as to who is allying themselves to whom. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Alex da Silva
This film again featerd Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake they were only in a few films together he went on to star in lots of other films but sadly she wasn't so lucky ,she was... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Shirley Steadman
This 1942 "film noir" is a very good thing, mixing gangsters, politicians, a whodunnit and one of "swellest dames" in all history of cinema. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Maciej
Alan Ladd in second version of Dashiel Hammett story. Not really a Film Noir but the cast is well rehearsed especially William Bendix as the crazy. Read morePublished on 12 Nov. 2013 by FGW1OLDGUY
Great service, lovely old film at a resonable price. Arrived on time and I cannot think of anything else to say to use up the words.Published on 12 Aug. 2013 by Mrs. Julie Smaldon