THE GLASS KEY is a noirish tale of political corruption and murder, starring Brian Donlevy as a political boss, Alan Ladd as his partner, and Veronica Lake as the woman they both love.
While not quite as well-scripted as Ladd and Lake's THE BLUE DAHLIA, reviewed here last May, THE GLASS KEY is a very entertaining and stylish film. Trenchcoats and fedoras, slinky Edith Head gowns, rainy cemeteries...they're all in this one, shot in beautiful black and white. The plot is a bit muddled in places, but at those moments the film's highly polished execution carries the day. An extended sequence with William Bendix roughing up Ladd (and then some) was tiresome, but otherwise it was terrific viewing.
The movie is based on a book by Dashiell Hammett and was previously filmed in 1935 with George Raft. According to Leonard Maltin, THE GLASS KEY provided the inspiration for both Akira Kurosawa's YOJIMBO and Sergio Leone's A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS with Clint Eastwood.
The supporting cast includes Frances Gifford and Bonita Granville, two actresses with connections to my area. Gifford, who was born in nearby Long Beach, California, and attended that city's Wilson High School, appeared most notably in a string of MGM movies in the mid-'40s, before her career was cut short by an auto accident. One-time child actress Granville married producer Jack Wrather, who also owned the Disneyland Hotel. The hotel's Granville's Steakhouse (which was recently renamed Steakhouse 55) and Bonita Tower were both named for Granville. Wrather also at one time operated Long Beach's Queen Mary and Spruce Goose attractions.
THE GLASS KEY runs 85 minutes. It was directed by Stuart Heisler.
The film is available on VHS.
December 2012 Update: THE GLASS KEY is now available on DVD from the TCM Vault Collection.
January 2013 Update: A more detailed review of THE GLASS KEY has now been posted.