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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Glass Key (1942)

A coarse and corrupt political boss (Brian Donlevy) falls in love with the daughter (Veronica Lake) of a wealthy politician (Moroni Olsen) and proceeds to woo the daughter and back the politician against the advice of his right hand henchman (Alan Ladd). When the politician's son (Richard Denning) turns up dead, Donlevy becomes the chief suspect. The second film version of the Dashiell Hammett novel (the first was filmed in 1935 with George Raft in Ladd's part) and sluggishly directed by Stuart Heisler. It clocks in at a brief 81 minutes but is seems like a full two hours. The political corruption is toned down from the original Hammett novel and the film plays out like a conventional film noir. Ladd is pretty good and his chemistry with the expressionless Lake remains solid but the acting honors, such as they are, belong to the roughly hewn Donlevy. With William Bendix as a sadistic thug, Dane Clark, Bonita Granville, Joseph Calleia, Frances Gifford, Donald MacBride and in a small but scene stealing part, Margaret Hayes (BLACKBOARD JUNGLE) as a nymphomaniac who seduces Ladd and drives her husband to suicide.

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