The Key - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Key Reviews

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June 12, 2017
I stumbled upon this film by accident and was blown away by it. This is a hell of a story, digging into the true horror of war and loss, with terrific performances from Holden, Howard and Loren. I have no idea why this is not better known and to me is as good as the Third Man and The Odd Man Out - Carol Reed's other milestone films. The action scenes are ultra realistic, but the depiction of men in the grinding mincemeat of war is what stands out here. Unbelievably good film and a lost classic. It's long but it has so much detail and depth - very rewarding. Seek it out.
December 6, 2016
+ CinemaScope film in B&W: Something old is new framing a peculiar story about tugboat captains in the days before the U.S. entered WW2, captains who pulled damaged & on-fire British merchant, and other, ships to salvage after being attacked by Nazi subs. The Q never answered is why the Nazi subs never finished-off the wounded ducks and allowed them to be pulled back to repair and duty. + The acting by Howard and Holden is amateurish. Loren is great, she of the highest cheekboned beauty, but is not given much of a part with which to work. + Carol Reed, Director, alternates between stage play set-ups and some amazing ocean scenes. However he never makes-up his mind whether the camera should be level with the horizon or canted - persistently artsy to the point of annoyance. + Folks in the '50's paying to see this film likely left the theater disappointed - altho' tickets weren't more than a $1.50 probably. But it was something of a waste of more than 2-hours. The film does provide a look at the nature of man-woman relationships that seem so different & more congenial then - probably influenced by war as well as the times. In the end, The End is lacking & unsatisfying, too.
February 15, 2016
A brooding love story with Sophia Loren playing a complex character in this respect which does help give this part of the story some depth. The all too infrequent action scenes at sea give it some much needed liveliness at times.
August 27, 2014
The historical value is high, giving an insight to the Second World War that we seldom see. But the movie goes beyond history and delves into the mores of the time. I am reminded of La Malinche...a woman's situation with several possible interpretations. I recommend this film to anyone interested in the dynamic cultural changes in response to the war.
Super Reviewer
August 27, 2014
Good acting but could have used a heavy dose of the editor's shears. Overlong long by at least half an hour.
½ July 21, 2013
Young Sophia Loren as a .... man-eater, kind of. So tragic.....
November 23, 2011
There is a certain uneasy mis-tick to it.
February 8, 2011
great dark classic....not easy to find....directed by carol reed (the third man)...sometimes this movie reminds you of some hitchcock movie
April 13, 2010
I wanted a little deeper description.
July 17, 2008
Tivo alert: Hard to find film (finally saw it again on TCM) but very dark and persuasive Carol Reed telling of Jan de Hartog novel of tugboat skippers in WWII. Crafty plot with typical Howard/Holden tension betwn stiff lip and casual terrified American, with youthful Sophia Loren in between. Comedy this is not, but movie-making about war, love, numb terror and desperation by people who gave a damn about what they were doing and did it well.
June 11, 2008
Great stars, but not a very good movie. Slow, bad ending.
March 21, 2008
I did not really like this movie.
February 13, 2008
Dragged in the middle but the other two ends were great.
½ February 8, 2008
strange old time war movie with tons of psychological and metaphorical aspects that make it interesting. sophia loren's sexuality is muted through the majority of the film, but somehow manages to escape from time to time despite her disheveled hair, and long thick bathrobes.
January 23, 2008
One of Sophia's early films in Hollywood. Sophia gave a subdued yet effective acting in this film with Hollywood Golden Boy William Holden.
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