The Glass Key (1942) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Glass Key1942

The Glass Key (1942)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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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 political about-face merely to get in solid with Olsen's pretty daughter Veronica Lake. It is Ladd who is left to clean up the mess when crime lord Joseph Calleila murders Olsen's wastrel son Richard Denning and pins the rap on Donlevy. As Ladd struggles to clear Donlevy's name, he falls in love with Lake--when he's not being pummeled about by Calleila's psychopathic henchman William Bendix. Far less complex than the Dashiel Hammett original (and far less damning of the American political system), The Glass Key further increased the box-office pull of Paramount's new team of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake.


Alan Ladd
as Ed Beaumont
Brian Donlevy
as Paul Madvig
Veronica Lake
as Janet Henry
Bonita Granville
as Opal Madvig
Richard Denning
as Taylor Henry
Joseph Calleia
as Nick Vama
Margaret Hayes
as Eloise Matthews
Maggie Hayes
as Eloise Matthews
Moroni Olsen
as Ralph Henry
Arthur Loft
as Clyde Matthews
George Meader
as Claude Tuttle
Pat O'Malley
as Politician
Edward Peil Sr.
as Politician
James Millican
as Politician
Edmund Cobb
as Reporter
Frank Bruno
as Reporter
Jack Luden
as Reporter
Jack Gardner
as Reporter
Joe McGuinn
as Reporter
Joe King
as Fisher
Vernon Dent
as Bartender
Stanley Price
as Man in Barroom
Kenneth Chryst
as Man in Barroom
Dane Clark
as Henry Sloss
Norma Varden
as Dowager
Frank Elliott
as 1st Butler in Henry Home
George Cowl
as 2nd Butler in Henry Home
Broderick O'Farrell
as Guests at Henry Dinner
Arthur Stuart Hull
as Guests at Henry Dinner
Tom O'Grady
as Guests at Henry Dinner
J.C. Fowler
as Guests at Henry Dinner
Tom Fadden
as Waiter
Charles Sullivan
as Taxi driver
Francis Sayles
as Seedy Man
Lillian Randolph
as Entertainer at Basement Club
View All

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Critic Reviews for The Glass Key

All Critics (9)

At least Veronica Lake remains in her standard, blonde-bombshell attire, sexily showing off her tiny frame with see-through dresses.

August 4, 2020 | Rating: 4/10 | Full Review…

A comedy of political and family intrigues. [Full Review in Spanish]

September 19, 2019 | Full Review…

Solid remake of the 1935 film of the same name.

December 3, 2004 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

First-rate noir thriller.

December 1, 2002 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for The Glass Key


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.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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

jay nixon
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
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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