Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 28th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1942
Director: Stuart Heisler
Writer: Jonathan Latimer
Cast: Brian Donlevy, Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd, Bonita Granville, Richard Denning, Joseph Calleia, William Bendix, Frances Gifford
BluRay released: September 19th, 2016
Approximate running time: 86 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: PG (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £15.99 (UK)
Synopsis: A crooked politician with deep ties to organized crime decides to climb the social ladder by going straight. Things quickly take a turn for the worse when former colleagues object to the new life he is trying to establish.
The Glass Key was directed by Stuart Heisler whose other notable films include, Tokyo Joe, The Star and Storm Warning. Key collaborators for The Glass Key include, screenwriter Jonathan Latimer (The Clock, The Accused) and cinematographer Theodor Sparkuhl (Blood on the sun). The screenplay for this film was adapted from Dashiell Hammett’s novel of the same name.
Content wise, it is not surprising that The Glass Key at times feels like a Warner Brothers gangster film which rose to prominence at the box office in the 1930’s. With the first theatrical adaptation of The Glass Key happening seven years before this Film Noir reincarnation.
Though the narrative is meticulously constructed. This film’s plot has a lot of moving parts and paying attention is of the utmost importance. And when it comes to red herrings this film delivers in spades. Another strength of this film are its well defined characters.
From a production stand point there are no any areas where this film’s is lacking. It is wonderfully pace so that each new revelation is given an ample amount of time to fully resonate. As mentioned before the film’s visuals has that Film Noir look to it and this greatly adds to the tone of the film. Standout moments visually include, the scene where son of a politicians’ son turns up dead and the wrong man is quickly accused. Another standout moment is scene Alan Ladd’s character is held captive and tortured by crime boss’s henchmen.
Performance wise the cast are all good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance being Alan Ladd (This Gun for Hire, Shane) in the role of Ed Beaumont, he is the protagonist Paul Madvig’s right hand man. Other notable performances include, Brian Donlevy (Hangmen Also Die!) in the role of Paul Madvig, Veronica Lake (I Married a Witch, Sullivan’s Travels) in the role of the Femme Fatale and Joseph Calleia (Touch of Evil) in the role of a demented crime boss, who will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.
The Glass Key comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Black levels remain strong throughout, details look crisp, grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds clean, clear, balanced and robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release include, an image gallery, a trailer for the film (1 minute 37 seconds), a visual essay on the film by Alastair Phillips titled Comings and Goings (23 minutes 28 seconds), The Screen Guild Theaters 1946 radio dramatization (29 minutes 39 seconds) and audio commentary with crime fiction and film expert Barry Forshaw.
The visual essay tilted Comings and Goings is a detailed and insightful account of the films production history, the cast, the crew and other production related topics.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, authors Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler and their contributions to Film Noir, the cast and information about them, the characters in the films are also discussed in-depth and key moments are critiqued.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option, cast & crew info, an essay about the film written by Kat Ellinger and information about the transfer.
Overall The Glass Key gets a solid release from Arrow Academy.