The Glass Key (1942)


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Movie Info

Dashiel Hammett's The Glass Key, a tale of big-city political corruption, was first filmed in 1935, with Edward Arnold as a duplicitous political boss and George Raft as his loyal lieutenant. This 1942 remake improves on the original, especially in replacing the stolid Raft with the charismatic Alan Ladd. Brian Donlevy essays the role of the boss, who is determined to back reform candidate Moroni Olsen, despite Ladd's gut feeling that this move is a mistake. Ladd knows that Donlevy is doing a … More

Rating: PG
Genre: Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: Jonathan Latimer
In Theaters:
MCA Universal Home Video


as Ed Beaumont

as Paul Madvig

as Janet Henry

as Opal Madvig

as Taylor Henry

as Nick Vama

as Eloise Matthews

as Eloise Matthews

as Ralph Henry

as Clyde Matthews

as Claude Tuttle

as Politician

as Politician

as Politician

as Reporter

as Reporter

as Reporter

as Reporter

as Reporter

as Fisher

as Bartender

as Man in Barroom

as Man in Barroom

as Henry Sloss

as Dowager

as 1st Butler in Henry ...

as 2nd Butler in Henry ...

as Guests at Henry Dinn...

as Guests at Henry Dinn...

as Guests at Henry Dinn...

as Guests at Henry Dinn...

as Waiter

as Taxi driver

as Seedy Man

as Jeep

as Entertainer at Basem...
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Critic Reviews for The Glass Key

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | August 8, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Solid remake of the 1935 film of the same name.

Full Review… | December 3, 2004
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

First-rate noir thriller.

December 1, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

February 29, 2008
Goatdog's Movies

September 23, 2005

Audience Reviews for The Glass Key

Not as good as This Gun for Hire but a solid crime drama with the Lake/Ladd pairing as potent as ever.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer


A political wheeler dealer with ties to organized crime falls for the daughter of a reformist politician but when her brother is murdered, the blame seems to fall squarely upon him. The Glass Key doesn't really fit wholly into the pigeon hole of Film Noir, but its no nonsense, tough guy approach and sharp dialogue will certainly appeal to its fans. The centrepiece of the film is the relationship between Brian Donlevy and Alan Ladd as his trusted sidekick and their great chemistry was obviously a big influence on the Coen brothers when they made Miller's Crossing. Veronica Lake also shines as the gorgeous debutante and although it lacks the cynicism of my favourite Noirs, it has a really nice "feel" to it. The biggest flaw is in the plot which was clearly simplified for the screen leaving the mystery aspect a little lacking, but the execution is great.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Brian Donlevy's crooked, McGinty-ish politician angers a criminal associate (Joseph Calleia, effortlessly sinister) by pledging his support for a reform candidate whose beautiful daughter he has taken a fancy to. Murder, political chicanery and a smouldering love-hate relationship between the would-be governor's daughter (Veronica Lake) and Donlevy's right-hand man (Alan Ladd) ensue. The Glass Key falls a little short of being one of the true classics of film noir. Tonally, I found it rather peculiar and the ending was one of the corniest I've seen for a long time. In general, the movie is several shades lighter than pure noir, although there are a couple of extraordinarily perverse moments that really do hit the spot, not least the sadomasochistic beating Ladd receives from one of Calleia's goons. In one of the other darker scenes, Ladd prevents a hostile newspaper editor from running a defamatory story about Donlevy by canoodling with the guy's trophy wife until he commits suicide. It's fair to say that Ladd was not ideally suited to this sort of material, but the film contrasts the benignity of his features with the ruthlessness of his character's actions to excellent effect.

Stephen M

Super Reviewer

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