Sunday, March 27, 2016

Brief Thoughts - THE KEY (1934)

I caught up with another Michael Curtiz film tonight. This one is a romantic triangle drama set in Ireland during the British Army's hunt for Michael Collins in 1920. The film fictionalizes things in the usual Hollywood fashion and even renames the Collins character Conlan so as to smooth over any potential problems with the Irish in the audience. This is an odd one. It is part police style manhunt with nighttime gunfights and daytime sniper attacks and part regretful romantic pasts coming home to mess with a newly married couple. The cast does a fine job with the excellent William Powell (of the great Thin Man films) as Captain Bill Tennant doing his usual fine job as an honorable cad with sad doubts about his way of living his life. And Colin Clive (of FRANKENSTEIN fame) is the married man whose wife knew Powell a little too well three years before. This has some darker story elements that mark it as a project made prior to the instituting of the Hayes Code such as adultery and premarital sex along with some sexy dancers flirting shamelessly from the stage. The film is a quick and interesting 71 minutes and seems almost over before it has time to really sink in. I suspect some post shoot trimming as at least one character (Tennant's aide) disappears after the first twenty minutes with no word of explanation. Maybe his story had some saucier feature that necessitated their editing? Still, I liked the film and it certainly goes into the win column for Curtiz even if it's a pretty small scale tale. 

Here's a cool picture of Clive, Curtiz and Powell from the set of THE KEY! 

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