Monday, September 10, 2012

The Glass Key

A shady politician (Brian Donleavy) errantly backs a candidate (Moroni Olsen), solely to land in the arms of his knockout daughter (Veronica Lake). When a rival politico (Joseph Calleia) murders the candidate's son and pins it on the boss, it is up to his top adherent (Alan Ladd) to set matters right, while falling in love with the platinum blonde. "The Glass Key" is a terse and effective noir adapted from Dashiell Hammett's crime novel. Alan Ladd, probably the most unheralded tough guy from Hollywood's Golden Age, delivers a completely compelling performance as the icy cool enforcer (a climatic scene where he descends a staircase to confront some baddies is absolutely riveting). William Bendix, who also played another memorable psychotic in Ladd's "The Blue Dahlia", is terrifying here as an off-kilter goon. "The Glass Key" is an effective, to the point crime story that, thanks largely to Ladd and Bendix, packs a considerable punch.