Saturday, January 27, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Key to the City (1950)

KEY TO THE CITY is a cute romantic comedy starring Clark Gable and Loretta Young as mayors who meet at a convention in San Francisco. Proper Harvard Law graduate Young and former longshoreman Gable initially don't get along very well, but opposites attract, and after a series of misadventures -- including a couple of arrests -- they fall in love.

The excellent supporting cast includes James Gleason as a police sergeant on the night desk, Frank Morgan as a fire-prone fire chief, Lewis Stone as Loretta's uncle, and Raymond Burr as a political henchman. Marilyn Maxwell, Pamela Britton, and Clinton Sundberg also appear. Jack Elam, in one of his earliest film roles, has an uncredited part as a city councilman.

The prominent use of the song "San Francisco" as background music calls to mind Gable's classic film of the same name. Unfortunately, what little is seen of that beautiful city is stock footage. The view during a romantic scene on Telegraph Hill is cleverly obscured by fog.

By now it is well known that Gable and Young fell in love and conceived a child while making CALL OF THE WILD (1935). As Gable was married at the time, Young went to great lengths to keep the baby, while salvaging both her and Gable's careers, by pretending to be ill for a prolonged time and then "adopting" a child, Judy. That story can be read from two perspectives, by Judy herself in UNCOMMON KNOWLEDGE and in the authorized Loretta Young biography FOREVER YOUNG by Joan Wester Anderson. A deeply religious woman, Loretta spent decades supporting a home for unwed mothers. She and Gable had seen little of each other in the years between CALL OF THE WILD and KEY TO THE CITY.

KEY TO THE CITY was filmed in black and white and runs 101 minutes. It was directed by George Sidney, perhaps best known as the director of beloved MGM musicals such as ANCHORS AWEIGH, THE HARVEY GIRLS, SHOW BOAT (1951), and KISS ME, KATE.

KEY TO THE CITY is available on VHS. It's also part of the Turner Classic Movies library.

The trailer can be seen here.

March 2013 Update: KEY TO THE CITY is now available in a remastered print from the Warner Archive.

2 Comments:

Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

I've always thought the Young-Gable-adoption issue to be so sad for all involved. Everytime I read of an actor or actress leaving a spouse or relationship for a costar I become ever more convinced that pretending to love someone on film is a tricky business. I don't know whether these actors really fall in love after pretending or if they pretend so much that they trick themselves into feeling in love. My own experience in the theater leads me to believe it's a bit of both. Thankfully, I never had an on-stage love interest and didn't have to deal with that.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

"I don't know whether these actors really fall in love after pretending or if they pretend so much that they trick themselves into feeling in love. My own experience in the theater leads me to believe it's a bit of both."

Good point. I suspect there are a lot of confused emotions in these circumstances. In Gable & Young's case they were relatively isolated while filming on location, which probably contributed to the situation as well.

Laura

1:50 PM  

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