28 comments on “The Glass Key (1942)

  1. Pingback: Film is an art « Sensational You

  2. Lake is cold and robotic but she can also be alluring. She’s a bit too lifeless in her role here for my taste. Neither she nor Ladd who has admitted this himself, are the most talented of actors, but they do have a charismatic screen presence, the stuff of what movie stars are made of. Donlevy is always entertaining no matter what side of the law her is on. Joseph Calleia as the town’s big shot is convincingly tough. Ladd takes a brutally vicious, realistic beating from William Bendix which is both hard to watch and a highlight in the film. A good film, but not in the stratosphere. Enjoyed reading!

    • Alluring is a great word that I should have used to describe her. I can see where she’s lifeless because the plot doesn’t give her the depth of a femme fatale, she’s in a weird limbo here in terms of character. Ladd and Lake have strong chemistry, but I really thought they made the Donlevy character just as good, yet they never used the love triangle to its full potential. The beating is brutal, weird that Bendix and Ladd became such good friends after that. Thanks for reading!

  3. I have’t seen this, so I can’t comment that much on it’s hybrid-noir status. However, I can say that you most assuredly must see Shane with Alan Ladd! LOL! As for Ms. Lake, we will have to agree to disagree. BTW, the incestuous elements of the film you discussed intrigued me. I might take a look at this one.

    • Shane is on my ClassicFlix list. Good to know the hype seems to have stuck with it. Haha, I maintain Lake has something, it’s just difficult to find the right movie. I do recommend seeing this, regardless of your Lake love lol.

  4. Very nice post! I haven’t seen this film in ages, and while I am a little sketchy on the story, I am 100% certain of the allure of Veronica Lake. I think you captured it beautifully in this post!

  5. I agree that the plot in The Glass Key isn’t the most coherent but then, we don’t really watch it for the plot. Getting to see Ladd and Lake at the peak of their glamor and style and watching Donlevy do his usual heel-with-the-traces-of-heart is a great pleasure. My favorite Ladd and Lake is still This Gun for Hire where they have a great chemistry that’s sweet and funny and protective–and yet they’re not the romantic couple in that film which makes it more interesting. Great review!

    • I have This Gun for Hire, just haven’t watched it yet. I’ll be sure to analyze it alongside The Glass Key. Glad to know it’s just as worth watching, if not more so. Thanks for reading!

  6. I would certainly consider THE GLASS KEY to be film noir. I like both Ladd and Lake in it and only wish a stronger actor had been in Donlevy’s role. It’s an entertaining picture, but not on par with THIS GUN FOR HIRE.

  7. Kristen,
    I enjoyed your honest and detailed review of The Glass Key. I was also thrilled to see another Veronica Lake picture on the CMBA Blogathon list. This was her era as you’ve pointed out here.

    You mention that Alan Ladd wasn’t all that imposing for this type of role but I’m glad he was cast anyway. His chemistry with Lake is obvious and fun to watch. It’s interesting that Alan Ladd was a shorty at 5’6 but George Raft was just one inch taller at 5’7 and quite an imposing figure in this genre. Then Bogart was just one more inch taller at 5’8. Poor, Alan! He should have worn some risers in his shoes. ha ha

    With so many outstanding films about the mob, crooked politicians etc, this isn’t my favorite but it holds it on today. As you pointed out with Dashiell, being hard to follow at times. It just needed a meatier screen adaptation otherwise it is a fine film.
    Oh, on a side note! Veronica’s gorgeous costumes are worth the price of admission alone. : )
    A truly enjoyable review!

    • I’m always hoping to spread the word on how awesome Veronica is. It is surprising she didn’t win the 1940s Leading Lady poll I had up a few weeks ago. I think one can look intimidating when the right combination of elements present themselves. Bogart wasn’t physically intimidating, but his presence and his aggression came through brilliantly. Ladd is almost too much of a pretty boy. Thanks for reading!

  8. When I think of 1940s cinema, one of the first images that pops in my mind is Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. I think they’re fascinating together and a great example of star power at its most potent. Were they great actors? No. But they possessed screen presence and charisma that more seasoned actors would kill to have. I can’t explain it, but it’s there. It’s a shame that their Paramount titles aren’t as accessible as other screen teams from the era. I think they’d be more widely seen, and appreciated, if their movies were more available. I’ve liked their all movies, but I’ve never seen “Saigon” (1948). It’s not suppose to be very good, but it’s Ladd and Lake so I would love to see it. That’s star power!

    • It’s always surprising to me which actors just don’t have their work out there for audiences to see and enjoy. I hope to find as much of Veronica’s work and review it, although it might take some time.

  9. Kristen, an interesting take on this film as early but not quite full-blown film noir. It’s been awhile since I read the novel by Dashiell Hammett it’s based on, but I recall the novel as being even more convoluted and much more cynical than the movie (especially about political corruption). So I think you’re quite right that if made a few years later, more of those qualities would have been transferred to the film. I was already thinking of Veronica Lake’s and Alan Ladd’s height when you brought it up! Of their films together, I like this one the best. The most shocking thing in the film is to see that William Bendix, who I usually think of as a lovable lug, could project a very, very dark side. Here he’s one of the most memorable thugs in all film noir.

  10. Kristen, I have this on my DVR since it played on TCM and still haven’t seen it. I love film noir but must admit am terribly deficient in the Ladd/Lane films. A confession – I do not like Veronica Lake. I am trying but it ain’t happenin’. I can’t quite put my finger on why. Maybe the Glass Key will be THE ONE that does it. Nice post!


    PS – I adore noir posters and The Glass Key one you include in the post is drool-worthy! GORGEOUS!

    • Oh the amount of items on my DVR I still haven’t watched is incredible. I can understand people who don’t like Lake, but if they’ve at least seen something with her in it, I feel I’ve accomplished something lol.

  11. I am a fan of this film, although I haven’t seen it in 20 years. I remember being captivated by it and feeling the two stars had great chemistry together. Glad you selected this one!

  12. Interesting read. I would agree that the film is a bit difficult to follow.
    I think it’s one that I’d like to revisit. Lake and Ladd are an interesting screen team that are often forgotten today, but were perfect together because of their heights.

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