THE GLASS KEY (1942) B/W 85m dir: Stuart Heisler

w/Brian Donlevy, Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd, Bonita Granville, Richard Denning, Joseph Calleia, William Bendix, Frances Gifford, Donald MacBride, Margaret Hayes

From The Movie Guide: "This film of Dashiell Hammett's tale of political corruption and murder is slightly better than the 1935 version [which stars Edward Arnold, George Raft, and Ray Milland], profiting from a bigger budget, stellar casting, and a zippier pace, thanks to Jonathan Latimer's taut screenplay.

"Donlevy is accused of murder, solicits aid of henchman Ladd to clear his name. Memorable, chilling sado-masochism of Bendix repeatedly beating Ladd is typical of the unorthodox undertow of sexual currents snaking through the plot. Ladd's character seems equally committed to Donlevy and the mysterious, cyclopean Lake, at one point confiding he'd let the latter hang if it served his purpose. Despite the copout ending, Ladd's deadpan toughens his character up, serving up partial compensation. As usual, the Ladd-Lake slow-burn chemistry, deceptive in its offhandedness, is a pleasurable contrast to all the overstoked new wave noir interpretations currently flourishing.

"This film was put into production before the release of THIS GUN FOR HIRE, which featured an electric performance from Ladd and made him Paramount's newest star. But Bendix nearly steals the film as the scary but pathetic henchman whose only joy in life is to administer sadistic beatings. According to Beverly Linet in Ladd: A Hollywood Tragedy, in one scene calling for Bendix's character to beat up Ladd's, the rugged six-footer slipped and struck the 5-foot-5-inch Ladd square on the jaw, knocking him out. Director Heisler, never one to let a convincing scene go unrecorded, ordered the shot printed and it appears in the film."