The Glass Key - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Glass Key Reviews

Page 1 of 4
Super Reviewer
½ June 3, 2017
Dashiel Hammett's story is a big, fat juicy steak of a story about tryna get ahead the American way. Only there's a body in the way to be accounted for - who's gonna take the rap? The juice is delivered with loads of tough talking poetry, noir style, with Ladd as the story's focal point, the only one interested in seeing justice done. For that interest he takes some heavy duty beating (considering the year this came out - it's brutal). At the heart of the tale, a noir mind you, is friendship over love, which is cool beans. Only some plot points stretching credibility keep this from being higher rated, but it's still an action Jackson ticket.
½ March 7, 2017
The pairing of Ladd and Lake really works, as the plot of this film noir. (2015)
P.S. Good old-fashioned political thriller\mystery from the 40s. (2017)
December 3, 2016
Another version of the Hammett classic.
February 26, 2016
Stiffly acted, rather pedestrian noir thriller about small-town corruption, murder and politics. Alan Ladd looks pretty uncomfortable throughout, and you'll be astonished how tiny Veronica Lake is: did they film her through a microscope? William Bendix is a good heavy.
½ February 22, 2016
My favorite part of this was William Bendix as the creepy gayish sadist, and the bemused look on Alan Ladd's face as Bendix strangles his boss.....
July 9, 2015
I was disappointed with The Glass Key but I give this oldie three stars on behalf of the sultry sweet Veronica Lake, an actress who got short shrift despite her prodigious talent. Ladd and Donlevy's performances are ham-fisted. While the plot elucidates the corruption rampant between gangsters and politicians, it does so without finesse. There are many great films in the noir canon, if I were you, I'd give this one a miss and watch The Killers or Out of the Past instead.
June 13, 2015
Probably my favorite pairing of Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd in this Dashiell Hammett adaptation. Brian Donlevy plays a local crime boss and Ladd is his right hand man. In order to help Donlevy when he's accused of murder, Ladd act like he's switching sides and turns his old friend against him, whiles playing both sides against each other. What's kind of fun about watching this film now is seeing it's influence on other subsequent classic films. Akira Kurosawa said this film was a major inspiration for "Yojimbo" (which consequentially was remade by Sergio Leone as "A Fistful of Dollars" and by Walter Hill in "Last Man Standing). You can also see a clear influence of this story on the Coen Brother's masterpiece "Miller's Crossing," although in that comparison Donlevy pales in comparison to Albert Finney's crime boss. Veronica Lake plays the love interest and William Bendix give a memorable performance as a particularly nasty and sadistic heavy.
May 10, 2015
The B-movie branded film noir is a special thing. Not especially observant that they are, in fact, a film noir, and unwilling to milk their potentially stylish undertones, they work only in economic profusion, cutting to a murder here, a mugging there, a kiss here, a bloody climax there. Not every noir can be a coffee-stained greaser like "Raw Deal", but there's something wondrous about a pulp story that was, most likely, churned out by the studio in a hasty attempt to make money and still makes something special.
"The Glass Key" isn't quite a B-movie - it was distributed by Paramount and starred power screen couple Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake - but it is reminiscent of one. It's attempting to tell a story of corruption, deception, and its other disasters (with low-budget effect); yet, perhaps accidentally, it becomes a film noir of unique ambition, with its impeccable starring (and supporting) turns and hard-boiled writing.
Adapted from Dashiell Hammett's novel of the same name and a remake of the 1935 film starring George Raft, "The Glass Key" stars Ladd as Ed Beaumont, the right-hand-man to Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy), a corrupt political boss. When Madvig isn't throwing opponents out of hotel windows or telling his henchman Jeff (William Bendix) to beat an enemy to death, he's chuckling at crude jokes and falling for tough broads. In "The Glass Key", he falls in love with Janet (Veronica Lake), the daughter of reform candidate Ralph Henry (Moroni Olsen). Beaumont isn't so sure that the romance is a very good idea - Janet's motives are shaky, considering her background - and he would be right: she is increasingly drawn to Beaumont while remaining disgusted by the brutish Madvig.
Things get worse for the boss and his sidekick when Madvig's sister's (Bonita Granville) lover, who he openly disliked, is found murdered in the street. The press, along with the people, believe that Madvig is responsible. Despite knowing that his employer isn't hardly a man of clean morals, Beaumont knows that he wasn't at fault, forced to clear his name in a town of beasts that would do anything to stop the truth from coming out.
At only 82 minutes, "The Glass Key" hardly has enough time to go into much detail when regarding its corrupt characters, but within its short time, it successfully establishes a ferocious atmosphere, taking more time analyzing merciless beatings than the eventual romance between Ladd and Lake. The film is essentially a murder mystery; we want Madvig to be the killer - he's an asshole who sounds slightly like a demented Fozzie Bear - but things aren't as simple as we would like. As Beaumont attempts to do the right thing, he also has to get his hands dirty. "The Glass Key" thrives in a world where the sun doesn't shine. Love is a rarity among the relentless malfeasance.
With his sly smile reminiscent of a young Humphrey Bogart, Ladd brings a tough-guy charisma to the screen at a dogged pace; his chemistry with the iconically provocative Lake works so well because they're both so subtly, to put it mildly, cool. And with the puff of a cigarette, a swig of bourbon, and a kiss on the lips, "The Glass Key" acts as an icily appealing noir that boasts a considerable amount of onscreen allure.
May 10, 2015
The B-movie branded film noir is a special thing. Not especially observant that they are, in fact, a film noir, and unwilling to milk their potentially stylish undertones, they work only in economic profusion, cutting to a murder here, a mugging there, a kiss here, a bloody climax there. Not every noir can be a coffee-stained greaser like "Raw Deal", but there's something wondrous about a pulp story that was, most likely, churned out by the studio in a hasty attempt to make money and still makes something special.
"The Glass Key" isn't quite a B-movie - it was distributed by Paramount and starred power screen couple Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake - but it is reminiscent of one. It's attempting to tell a story of corruption, deception, and its other disasters (with low-budget effect); yet, perhaps accidentally, it becomes a film noir of unique ambition, with its impeccable starring (and supporting) turns and hard-boiled writing.
Adapted from Dashiell Hammett's novel of the same name and a remake of the 1935 film starring George Raft, "The Glass Key" stars Ladd as Ed Beaumont, the right-hand-man to Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy), a corrupt political boss. When Madvig isn't throwing opponents out of hotel windows or telling his henchman Jeff (William Bendix) to beat an enemy to death, he's chuckling at crude jokes and falling for tough broads. In "The Glass Key", he falls in love with Janet (Veronica Lake), the daughter of reform candidate Ralph Henry (Moroni Olsen). Beaumont isn't so sure that the romance is a very good idea - Janet's motives are shaky, considering her background - and he would be right: she is increasingly drawn to Beaumont while remaining disgusted by the brutish Madvig.
Things get worse for the boss and his sidekick when Madvig's sister's (Bonita Granville) lover, who he openly disliked, is found murdered in the street. The press, along with the people, believe that Madvig is responsible. Despite knowing that his employer isn't hardly a man of clean morals, Beaumont knows that he wasn't at fault, forced to clear his name in a town of beasts that would do anything to stop the truth from coming out.
At only 82 minutes, "The Glass Key" hardly has enough time to go into much detail when regarding its corrupt characters, but within its short time, it successfully establishes a ferocious atmosphere, taking more time analyzing merciless beatings than the eventual romance between Ladd and Lake. The film is essentially a murder mystery; we want Madvig to be the killer - he's an asshole who sounds slightly like a demented Fozzie Bear - but things aren't as simple as we would like. As Beaumont attempts to do the right thing, he also has to get his hands dirty. "The Glass Key" thrives in a world where the sun doesn't shine. Love is a rarity among the relentless malfeasance.
With his sly smile reminiscent of a young Humphrey Bogart, Ladd brings a tough-guy charisma to the screen at a dogged pace; his chemistry with the iconically provocative Lake works so well because they're both so subtly, to put it mildly, cool. And with the puff of a cigarette, a swig of bourbon, and a kiss on the lips, "The Glass Key" acts as an icily appealing noir that boasts a considerable amount of onscreen allure.
November 26, 2014
The movie does not get much entertainment, but the presence of Veronica Lake makes it worth to watch at least her scenes.
½ November 20, 2014
A very good film noir movie from 1942 with Alan Ladd , Veronica Lake, and Brian Donlevy this film noir has all the elements that make this gener enjoyable even today.
May 16, 2014
Solid noir, and you can see the influence this had on Miller's Crossing (which of course does it so much better).
December 11, 2013
Dashiell Hammett's novels seemed readymade for the screen and helped to kickstart the film noir genre. In The Glass Key, Alan Ladd is the hard boiled but loyal friend/sidekick/henchman to the corrupt but frank and direct political boss Paul Madvig (played superbly by Brian Donlevy). Madvig makes a deal with the Reform Party for the upcoming election which angers his mob connections (run by Joseph Calleia). So, trouble ensues and Madvig's sister, and the son and daughter of the Reform Party candidate get ensnared. The latter is played by Veronica Lake, making this one of the classic Ladd-Lake pairings (but unlike Bogart and Bacall, they really didn't like each other). Ladd's character Ed Beaumont is the classic Hammett figure, smart, independent, able to play both sides off each other, willing to look bad/deceitful/disloyal (and take a beating) but for the right end - of course, he ties up everything with a bow.
November 8, 2013
Possibly the first film I recall seeing Alan Ladd in, and another smoldering performance from Veronica Lake, who I love so very much.

Definitely something I'll be revisiting soon and often, as it's just a helluva lot of fun.

Recommended.
August 30, 2013
This is truly a classic Hollywood film noir. The plot is harder to follow than most, but this is nonetheless a high standard movie. It has all the elements expected in a film noir: an intricate crime-based plot, a fast pace, menacing shadows, and an assortment of interesting characters who interact with each other in unpredictable ways. It is a fairly standard example of the genre, with a few particularly good moments.

Brian Donlevy plays is a corrupt political boss who decides to break with his past by joining with reform-minded candidate Ralph Henry, angering some of his former cronies and confusing loyal assistant played by Alan Ladd. He expresses confidence in his new future, saying that the upright Henry has "given me the key to his house", but Beaumont remarks that "it's a glass key - be careful it doesn't break off". When Henry's wayward son turns up murdered, each character is plunged into dangerous situations.

What holds interest is not the convoluted plot full of red herrings, but the performances of the three leads--Brian Donlevy, Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd. This was the second teaming of Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd and they clicked as well as they did in This Gun For Hire.

This is also a very violent film for the 1940s. Everyone takes some hard physical stunts. Lake's shot to the jaw when she encounters Donlevy turned out to be a real one. (Dane Clark (in an unbilled early role) gets shoved through a plate glass window by Donlevy and into a pool. And Alan Ladd takes a brutal beating from William Bendix that is painful brutally realistic. Ladd's "escape out of a broken window has him falling off an awning and crashing through the ceiling where a family is having dinner.

The Glass Key will certainly be of interest to any film noir fan, and should be fast-paced enough to make it interesting to other viewers as well.
½ August 6, 2013
An entertaining film noir with Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd. Alan Ladd is the loyal sidekick of a small town politician. The politician falls for the daughter of an up and coming governor candidate. The politician will do anything for the governor in return for the hand of the daughter. Both sides are trying to outsmart each other but all of a sudden the gambling son of the candidate is dead and all eyes turn to the politician. Ladd sets out to figure out in his own way who is the real murderer. Lake is the daughter of the candidate. She plays with the heart of the politician and flirts on the side with his best friend, Ladd.

The chemistry between Lake and Ladd and the atmosphere of the film make it a fun picture to watch. Lake is the epitome of cool. Sometimes I wonder if she was admired by women as much as by men. She defines sexiness in this film to the t. Ladd plays the loyal stoic friend who will do anything. At times he seems innocent, but behind the scenes, he is ruthless.

The effectiveness of the film is hurt by the way it treats Lake's character. It seems that the studios would prefer to have Lake on everyone's good side emotionally, so it fails to take her character to the obvious conclusion. Instead, the studio opts for a 180 degree turn from all common sense to provide a finale with the "happy ending." While it carries the great atmospheric scene of a film noir, it lacks the final hard boil punch. The film definitely got me interested to seek out the original Dashiel Hammett novel. This Gun for Hire is my favorite Ladd-Lake film, but they are fun to watch whenever they are together.
½ March 21, 2013
Oh, Veronica Lake. Her and Alan Ladd made quite a pair in a handful of noirs, this being one of the best. (I can't remember if it's this one or Blue Dahlia that I liked most. . .)
November 18, 2012
Ladd & Lake light up the screen. Bendix knocks 'em dead. And Snip is swell.
October 13, 2012
A sharp and engaging tale about political corruption, and a grizzly murder case somewhere in the middle. Brilliant performances by the whole cast greatly strengthen the experience. The Glass Key proves to have its deeply suspenseful moments, a truly hypnotizing black-and-white cinematography and sharp dialogues. It's a pitch-perfect depiction of the criminal underworld, which has its ties to the political sphere, and the demented people that can't distinguish between good and bad until a crime is committed.
September 28, 2012
Satisfying film noir despite muddled motivations--This "Key" Is Hard To Fit, But It Does If You Persist!!
Page 1 of 4