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The Glass Key

By Eric Allen Hatch | Posted

A gubernatorial hopeful looks to enhance his chances by hooking up with good-natured political boss Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy) and his right-hand man Ed Beaumont (Alan Ladd). But when the candidate's son--a real black sheep with a gambling problem--turns up murdered, Madvig becomes the prime suspect and Beaumont struggles to clear his name. Meanwhile, Beaumont falls for Janet Henry (Veronica Lake), Madvig's girl and the candidate's daughter. Stuart Heisler's 1942 film, a remake of the 1935 George Raft film of the same name (both based on a Dashiell Hammett story), offers some visceral punch and some stellar hard-boiled dialogue, although it drags at times and doesn't distinguish itself as a particularly memorable noir. It falls on Ladd to carry the film, and his dancing between sensitive lover boy and streetwise thug somewhat undermines his credibility as either. Deserving extra-special attention is the uncommonly persistent, sexually loaded leering Lake and Ladd direct at each other as they first meet. It's perverse and over the top, a little glimpse at what a grittier approach to this feature's potentially lurid material might have yielded. A final observation: Veronica Lake was truly quite short.

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