Sunday, July 09, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Key to the City (1950) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Clark Gable and Loretta Young costar in KEY TO THE CITY (1950), a romantic comedy available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

Gable plays Steve Fisk, a West Coast mayor who meets Maine mayor Clarissa Standish (Young) at a conference in San Francisco.

Steve is a former longshoreman, while Clarissa is a Harvard Law grad. Rough-hewn Steve and earnest Clarissa initially squabble through a series of "wrong place at wrong time" misadventures, but opposites attract, and before long the pair are planning a whirlwind wedding.

There's still a misunderstanding to work out, plus Steve battles Les Taggart (Raymond Burr) over a city graft issue, but no one will be surprised that all's well that ends well!

I last saw this film a decade ago, and I enjoyed revisiting it very much. There's nothing particularly special about it, save for the mega-watt star power of the two leads, but that's really all that's needed. One or the other is onscreen during most the movie; I like spending time with them, and the movie leaves me with a smile on my face.

By now I assume most classic film fans are aware that Gable and Young had a secret child together 15 years prior to making this film; I've discussed it here in the past and so won't revisit the story now. Suffice it to say that whatever had happened in their lives offscreen, onscreen they are total pros who seem completely comfortable with one another, making it possible to forget their dramatic personal history while enjoying the movie.

Lewis Stone plays Clarissa's uncle, a circuit court judge who is overjoyed when she finds love at last. Frank Morgan, in his last film, plays the fire-prone fire chief from Gable's home town.

The deep cast includes Marilyn Maxwell, Pamela Britton, Raymond Walburn, James Gleason, Clara Blandick, and Clinton Sundberg. Near the end of the movie watch for Frank Ferguson and a very young Jack Elam as city councilmen.

This is the second film I've seen in the past week, following A STOLEN LIFE (1946), which filmed scenes at nearby Long Beach Airport. It's a small but attractive Art Deco style building which looks great onscreen.

The movie's San Francisco locations were all done via stock footage and other photographic trickery; there's a great special effects view of the city from the hotel restaurant's big picture windows, and when Steve and Clarissa visit Telegraph Hill it's shrouded in fog.

Incidentally, Gable fans who hear the tune "San Francisco" in the background might be reminded of his classic 1936 film of the same name.

KEY TO THE CITY was directed by George Sidney. It was filmed in black and white by Harold Rosson. The running time is 101 minutes.

There are some minor scratches here and there in the print but for the most part this remastered Warner Archive DVD looks quite nice. The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


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