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The Glass Key [DVD]

3.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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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 (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KHX9II
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,082 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Stuart Heisler directs this classic drama, based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett. Despite building his empire by turning a blind eye and granting favours to low-class criminals, crooked politician Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy) decides to clean up his act and back the anti-mob reform candidate Ralph Henry (Moroni Olsen) in the upcoming governor's elections. However, when notorious gangster Nick Varna (Joseph Calleia) learns of the change of heart, he murders Henry's debt-ridden son Taylor (Richard Denning), and attempts to pin the crime on Madvig. With news of the murder about to break, it's left to Madvig's hired muscle Ed Beaumont (Alan Ladd) to prove his boss is innocent before it's too late.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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. One thing is certain and that is that politician Brian Donlevy (Madvig) and gangster Joseph Calleia (Nick) are on opposite sides. When Richard Denning (Taylor) is murdered, the plot to undermine Donley takes off. But it’s not an easy story to follow. People’s relationships needed to be clearer from the start. Goodness knows what Alan Ladd (Ed) is there for.

I’ve never been an Alan Ladd fan. His popularity totally baffles me. He has just never convinced me as a tough guy. Rather like Elisha Cooke Jr. In this film, he hangs around Donlevy as his best friend, obeying Donlevy’s every request. A bit like his bitch. Actually, very much his bitch. He goes adoringly out of his way to please Donlevy, taking some serious beatings which I assume fulfils his homosexual need for male physical contact. He can’t get anything sexually out of Donlevy so he turns to the homosexual physicality that William Bendix (Jeff) seems to enjoy indulging himself in. Ladd and Bendix share this latent homosexuality. Or should I say blatant homosexuality. Ladd also has a really creepy smile and shouldn’t be allowed to emote on screen.

A further point about Ladd is his inability to act. His bland monotone is delivered as if he is a depressive or possibly autistic. You’re not going to have a barrel of laughs with this guy. In fact, in real life, there is debate as to whether or not he committed suicide. I think he did.

I was slightly disappointed with this film but I guess it depends on whether or not you like Alan Ladd. The funniest moment comes after Bendix has possibly gone too far with one of his beatings and Alan Ladd tells a waiter “You better get an ambulance in case he’s alive” to which Bendix replies “You better get an undertaker in case he isn’t” Very funny – best bit of the film.
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This adaptation of the novel by Dashiel Hammet has more plot turns than a corkscrew on steroids. It deals with the noir world of corruption, coercion and dirty politics. Paul Madvig ( Brian Donlevy)is the local big wheel who has decided to back the reform candidate, Henry for Governor. He has already been annoying the local mob bosses like Nick Varna by shutting down their gambling houses. He is in with the D.A., Farr who did not take too kindly to his losses.

There are several relationships which keep the p,lot wheels spinning. Madvig's sister, Opal is in love with Henry's son, Taylor Henry who is a complete waste of space up to his ears in gambling debts who winds up dead in the gutter. He is found by Madvig's right-hand man and fixer, Ed Beaumont (Alan Ladd) who reports back to his boss about what procedure to follow. Veronica Lake without the peek-a-boo hairstyle played Janet, Henry's daughter; she is in fact, the reason why Madvig was supporting Her Dad. The battle lines are drawn when Varna and his goons try to frame Madvig for Taylor' s killing to wreck Henry's chances of being elected.

Ed Beaumont confronts Varna who aimed to use him as a conduit for raking the dirt on Madvig. He is severely beaten by Varna's goons but eventually escapes via a smashed window and a plummet through a glass roof . It seems as if everybody is doing reverse ferrets and batting for the other side, especially when Opal joins the Varna camp. The camp also has Matthews, a newspaper editor who could splash the 'story'
concerning Madvig's apparent guilt about Taylor's death. The frissons keep coming right up to the end.

There was plenty to keep the audience interested as to the denouement which actually turned out to be somewhat of an anti-climax.
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