The Glass Key (1942) Alan Ladd Smashes In Violent Film Noir

The Glass Key (1942) Alan Ladd Brian Donlevy Veronica Lake movie poster film noir

Sometimes you watch so many films that you forget some of the plot lines. Like was there actually a Glass Key in the story? I really can’t recall if there was? Kind of one of the reasons I do these posts. To cement in that old cranium what went down.

The Glass Key (1942) Alan Ladd Brian Donlevy

Haha what I do remember were these little people stomping around at a peculiar great speed. Alan Ladd looked speeded up and funny in his oversized jacket. His walk made me laugh. I know he would clock me right on the jaw if he was here right now but look next time you sit and watch it. His movements are funny. Then there’s Brian Donlevy who I once said looks like he’s lost from the silent era with his facial expressions. (Hangmen Also Die!). He’s also made me giggle as he quick steps around ready to sock a bunch of fives into some geezers chops. Where Alan’s suits are over size, Brian’s are bursting at the seams with his stocky frame. There’s even the impish floozy Veronica Lake with bones you could pick your teeth with. A wonderful wraith like beauty with flowing peek-a-boo hair. It wouldn’t be long before the smiles are wiped from my face!

Paul Madvig – “I just met the swellest dame… She smacked me in the kisser.

The Glass Key (1942) Alan Ladd Brian Donlevy film noir drama

Of course I being facetious. Alan Ladd is so awesome and I love watching his films. He might be of small stature but this dude is tough as nails. Whether he’s the tough hit man, Raven, in This Gun For Hire or the weary gunfighter, Shane. There’s also one of my favorites where he plays an ex-bomber pilot veteran accused of murder in the brilliant The Blue Dahlia. He dishes out a few well placed trips and jabs. He so cool. There’s still so many Alan Ladd films for me to see. Feel free to recommend, fire away, please.

The Glass Key (1942) Alan Ladd Brian Donlevy film noir drama mirror

Now the thing I was not expecting from The Glass Key was the monster beating he was gonna get. I’m gonna spoil this shocking and brutal scene for you in a moment if you haven’t seen it. So stop reading if don’t want to know. But hey it’s a 76 year old film now! Here’s a short description of what’s going on in the story to get you kinda caught up with that crazy scene!

Ed Beaumont (Alan Ladd) is good friends with politician Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy). He’s a bodyguard of sorts for Paul, his right hand man. Paul is a crooked politician, has a raging temper on him and wants Janet Henry (Veronica Lake) on his arm. Shady deals and shadowy gangsters sniff around. Paul commits a murder? Ed investigates. Poking his nose into his friends affairs is gonna get him trouble.

Tagline – The Tougher They Are – The Harder They Fall

The Glass Key (1942) Crazy face Jeff William Bendix punching Alan Ladd publicity photo

Enter the scene I hinted at above. Ready? It’s incredibly brutal. A vicious fight. Well a one sided beating from a smiling human brickwall as it unleashes sucker punches and devastating body blows. Jeff (William Bendix) confidently laughs and informs what’s happening to his victim Ed as he reigns down power slugs of clubbed fist and brawn. “Look, sweetie pie, you ought to lie down. You don’t feel so good” BAM! Ed’s tough, he takes it. Gives some back. Then the lights go out. Like a rag doll he’s dumped on a bed. Jeff is sad. His fun is over. Then he remembers the steak in the fridge. He’d earned it and when the little fella wakes up he can smash him some more. Jeff smiles. Food time.

The Glass Key (1942) Crazy face Jeff William Bendix smashed beaten up Alan Ladd

It’s a tough scene and extremely violent for 1942. I read that William did in fact clock Alan for real, right on the kisser, rendering him unconscious. But it doesn’t end there! There’s a whole sequence to the extremes Ed has to go through to escape his predicament. With a happy family just about to tuck into their spaghetti, they were not expecting another guest. One cut, bruised and smashed, like mashed potato! Flying through the air! It’s a frantic and first-rate series of scenes.

The Glass Key (1942) Crazy face Jeff William Bendix wild eyed and crazy hair

A few things I’ve learnt.

  • Directed by Stuart Heisler who made the recently watched by me, Rogers, Reagan, Day and that klan movie, Storm Warning.
  • Based on a novel by Dashiell Hammett who had wrote the two classic thrillers The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man.
  • The trio of William Bendix, Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake would go on to star in many films together.
  • The Glass Key is in fact a remake of a 1935 version starring George Raft and Edward Arnold as Ed and Paul.
  • Top quality write up by wordsmith Gary over at Cracked Rear Viewer

The Glass Key (1942) Alan Ladd Brian Donlevy Veronica Lake publicity photo

The Glass Key is definitely worth tracking down if you haven’t seen it. It’s got a short punchy runtime, it’s exciting,  features some dodgy looking gangsters and there’s even some room left for a few laughs. And you know what, that firecracker scene is something to truly behold.

Not been able to post at all recently which is a shame as I love it. Each film that excites I instantly know I wanna do a post. To share what I’ve seen, to hear what others thought. To discover more, to find new films. To keep learning and enjoying…… All the best, Mikey

PS. Darn it, I’m still not sure if there was a glass key*?

*A glass key symbolizes an act or experience which cannot be reversed or forgotten. It is a key made of glass which allows one entry to a room or a building but which shatters after one use!

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9 thoughts on “The Glass Key (1942) Alan Ladd Smashes In Violent Film Noir

  1. Ha, that happened to me, with another film…I kept waiting for a postman to ring twice, but it never happened! I really liked ‘The Glass Key’, as well as the book…and as I was reading your review, I was wondering if this was the film with Ladd’s cool escape, and as you soon described, it was…I loved it. Crashing through a window, hitting a rooftop, crash, crash, crash…awesome!

    If you’re interested, another brutal and well-filmed noir fight occurred in ‘The Dark Corner’…set in a darkened tenement room, where all you see is silhouette and shadows while music plays from outside. This was the first noir film I’d ever seen, and that scene got me hooked, and I’ve been watching noir films ever since (and I really like that movie, too…one of my noir faves).

    Liked by 1 person

    • No way I always thought he rang twice too! I’ve been sat here for hours waiting for the book to be delivered. Damnabit.
      I do know The Dark Corner Todd though I wish I didn’t as I’d love to watch that right now for the first time. William Bendix was brilliant but best of all was super secretary Lucille Ball as she looks after that doofus Mark Stevens. You know what I think I’m gonna have to revisit it again very soon.

      Like

  2. A dynamite film noir and a dynamite post, Mikey (I did one on this a few years back if you wanna scan the archives). Bendix is an absolute slimeball, but so is just about everybody in this movie! Makes me want to seek it out and watch it again!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haven’t seen this one. I’m sure I would like it as I love This Gun For Hire. Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake are a very compelling couple. They both have that fragile, china doll quality that makes them appealingly vulnerable where if they were of normal size and weight they would be too blindingly beautiful and we wouldn’t take them seriously. Nonetheless, these are tough little people–kind of like Bonnie and Clyde, so don’t cross them…Great post, as usual, Mikey.

    Like

  4. I’ve had my eye on the Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake collaborations. She’s pretty and I read they did seven films. I guess this one is a good place to start!
    Shame you don’t have as much time to blog but understandable. Real life takes precedence over blog writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Out the 3 Lake and Ladd films I’ve seen I’d say The Blue Dahlia was my favourite. Followed by The Gun For Hire. If it’s Miss Lake you’re going in for then Gun For Hire has an amazing scene where she does magic and sings, and it’s well, magic. She looks mesmerising.
      Thanks buddy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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