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The Glass Key [DVD]


Price: £4.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Brian Donlevy, Bonita Granville, Richard Denning
  • Directors: Stuart Heisler
  • Writers: Dashiell Hammett, Jonathan Latimer
  • Producers: Buddy G. DeSylva, Fred Kohlmar
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Universal
  • DVD Release Date: 12 Feb 2007
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KHX9II
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,845 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

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!

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 July 2007
Format: DVD
Maybe not a great noir, but The Glass Key, based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett, is one of the most satisfying crime movies to come out of the Forties. I've watched it several times and undoubtedly will again. Why does it work so well? First, there's a death tied to a whodunit and the solution is well disguised until the very end. Second, there's the milieu...big city crime and politics, corruption and violence. Third, a startlingly unhinged performance by William Bendix. And fourth, and most importantly, there is the relationship between two strong men, both slightly amoral but which is based on friendship and trust.

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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By bernie VINE VOICE on 9 April 2010
Format: DVD
They mention "the glass Key" at the beginning of the film as the key to a position. A warning says, "It is a glass key, be sure it does not break off in your hand."

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
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The CinemaScope Cat TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 1 Jan 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A coarse and corrupt political boss (Brian Donlevy) falls in love with the daughter (Veronica Lake) of a wealthy politician (Moroni Olsen) and proceeds to woo the daughter and back the politician against the advice of his right hand henchman (Alan Ladd). When the politician's son (Richard Denning) turns up dead, Donlevy becomes the chief suspect. The second film version of the Dashiell Hammett novel (the first was filmed in 1935 with George Raft in Ladd's part) and sluggishly directed by Stuart Heisler. It clocks in at a brief 81 minutes but is seems like a full two hours. The political corruption is toned down from the original Hammett novel and the film plays out like a conventional film noir. Ladd is pretty good and his chemistry with the expressionless Lake remains solid but the acting honors, such as they are, belong to the roughly hewn Donlevy. With William Bendix as a sadistic thug, Dane Clark, Bonita Granville, Joseph Calleia, Frances Gifford, Donald MacBride and in a small but scene stealing part, Margaret Hayes (BLACKBOARD JUNGLE) as a nymphomaniac who seduces Ladd and drives her husband to suicide.

The Universal DVD from Great Britain is a decent if unexceptional transfer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Rottweiller Swinburne on 13 Sep 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Made in 1942, "The Glass Key" was the second film version of a Dashiell Hammett novel (the first, made in 1935, featured George Raft). Generally filed under "Noir, Film", it nevertheless bids fair to being one of the oddest, spookiest films ever to find shelter under that particular heading.
On the face of it, "The Glass Key" is a standard noir. It deals with the efforts of Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy) to leave his sleazy, two-fisted past behind and break into legitimate big-time politics by backing Ralph Henry (played by Moroni Olsen) for Governor. Madvig also falls for Henry's daughter 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 to further her father's political career. Further, Henry's son Taylor (Richard Benning) is a gambling addict whose constant demands for money to finance his habit is threatening to bring the family name into disrepute.
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.
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