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  • KEY TO THE CITY is certainly a lighthearted, if occasionally lightheaded comedy about a Mayors' Conference in San Francisco, but it is also great fun, and a throwback to Clark Gable's enjoyable comic work of the 1930s. Since 'the King' had returned from wartime service, his films had all been preachy and somber (perhaps in deference to the continuing sense of loss he felt over the death of his wife, Carole Lombard, or, more likely, because MGM simply hadn't figured out how to best utilize the older, more care-worn veteran star), and you can see that he's enjoying every moment portraying a ruggedly virile 'Longshoreman Mayor'. Casting Loretta Young as his co-star certainly helped, as the pair had quite a history together!

    Young had been a 'star' since childhood, sort of the Jodie Foster/Diane Lane of her day, and had often been attracted to her older leading men. Marrying co-star Grant Withers at 17 (it was soon annulled), she then became involved in a scandalous affair with Spencer Tracy during the filming of A MAN'S CASTLE, which ended badly when Tracy, a devout Catholic, refused to divorce his wife. At 22, she made CALL OF THE WILD with the 34-year-old Gable, and was soon pregnant with his child (after shooting ended, she took a long leave of absence for 'health' reasons, and gave birth to a girl, who she eventually adopted). Gable knew of his daughter, although the threat of scandal kept both stars silent (a child born out of wedlock would have destroyed both of their careers), creating a 'bond' between Young and Gable that surpassed any of his other co-stars. At 37 when KEY TO THE CITY was filmed, Young, by now an Oscar-winner and screen legend, was still radiantly beautiful, and the sexual chemistry between the stars was genuine. As a good-hearted but repressed New England mayor, she brought out his 'nobler' qualities, as he aroused her 'baser' desires.

    One of the joys of KEY TO THE CITY is getting to see so many of MGM's legendary 'stock' company, late in their careers, but still giving 'first-rate' performances. Frank 'Wizard of Oz' Morgan, Lewis 'Judge Hardy' Stone, James 'Pop Corkle' Gleason, Raymond 'His Honor' Walburn, and Clara 'Auntie Em' Blandick all shine, as do 'future stars' Marilyn Maxwell (as a sexy dancer) and Raymond Burr, who is simply terrific as Gable's corrupt nemesis. Watch carefully, and you'll also spot veteran Western star Jack Elam, and future 'My Favorite Martian' leading lady, Pamela Britton, in small roles, early in their careers.

    While some moments (Gable dressed as the 'Blue Boy', for example) are downright silly, and the climax, a 'no-holds-barred' fistfight between Gable and Burr (and Young and Maxwell), stretches credibility well past the breaking point, the film never loses it's sense of fun. This is the Gable of legend, looking good, "cracking wise", and unafraid to 'size up' a woman, or cut an opponent 'down to size'.

    Definitely worth watching!
  • Fifteen years earlier Clark Gable and Loretta Young did Call of the Wild for her studio which was then 20th Century Fox. They had a most discreet affair which resulted in the birth of Young's daughter Judy. Back in those days Young indulged in an elaborate charade and 'adopted' her own daughter as a single mother.

    Nothing quite as earth shattering as that happened on the set of Key to the City which was made for Gable's MGM. Still it's an interesting comedy drama about a pair of small city mayors who meet at a convention in San Francisco and fall in love.

    Young is a proper New England mayor from an old stock family in Wynona, Maine. Gable is mayor of the small city of Puget City on the Pacific coast and started out as a longshoreman. He ran on a reform ticket, but the special interests that he beat are still very much alive and represented here in the person of sinister Raymond Burr.

    It's a convention and people kind of let their hair down at conventions, Clark and Loretta are no different. And San Francisco is quite the romantic town.

    One of MGM's most beloved players, Frank Morgan, plays Gable's fire chief complete with brogue and all. It was one of his last films and Morgan kind of borrows a bit from Ed Wynn and his famous Texaco fire chief from radio.

    Also featured well is Lewis Stone as Young's uncle, a federal judge and a most proper and aristocratic gentlemen and Marilyn Maxwell who Gable rejects for Young and is determined to get a little payback. Highlight of the film is the chick fight going on between Young and Maxwell while Gable and Burr are slugging it out.

    Key to the City is not on the top ten or even top twenty of either Clark Gable or Loretta Young's film credits. But it is still quite amusing even after almost 60 years.
  • Ordinary comedy of note more for its cast than any special quality the film itself possesses. Gable and Loretta Young are reunited for the only time after their torrid affair on the set of Call of the Wild resulted in a secret child who was one of Hollywood's most notorious open secrets. This was also Frank Morgan's final completed film, he started work on the disastrous Judy Garland version of Annie Get Your Gun but suffered a heart attack and passed away before the film was restarted with Betty Hutton. As for this picture's story its a bunch of silly nonsense of misunderstandings but the cast give it a game reading and Gable and Young have a good on screen rapport.
  • This movie is pretty good but falls into a period of Glark Gable's career when many of his films just looked like they were quickly churned out and could have been a lot better if they had a little bit better writing and if there was more energy to the film itself. In other words, Clark Gable and cast seem more like they are going through the motions to get a paycheck and this film offers nothing particularly new or exciting. In fact, the film is a step back because the plot seems even more trivial and forgettable than most of his films of the day. You would think that with Loretta Young and Clark Gable you'd get a film that is more than just a time-passer--particularly when you think of how marvelous they were together in CALL OF THE WILD. This film is for fans of Gable or Young but is pretty skipable for others.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In my opinion,this is one of the best movie pairings I've seen. Clark Gable and Loretta Young have great chemistry together.In fact,I think Gable may be at his zaniest here,and I like his performance more than any of his other films I've seen. Loretta Young also surprised me here; she shows she is capable of comedy equal to any of Gable's other costars. *Warning readers-spoilers ahead* Her fight scene with Marilyn Maxwell (as Sheila the 'Atom' Dancer)is a hoot! I'd never have believed Loretta Young would do wrestling throws. I also enjoyed Raymond Burr playing the bad guy,and his fight with Gable made me forget this was a comedy/romance for a while. Frank Morgan(the Wizard of Oz) is also wonderful as ding-a-ling Fire Chief Duggan. One last thing,the music ties in with San Francisco very well,no wonder since the composer of the song "San Francisco", Walter Jurmann is listed in the credits for original music! I could go on and on,but I hope I've changed your opinion about seeing this movie.
  • blanche-225 December 2012
    Clark Gable and Loretta Young star in "Key to the City," a 1950 film featuring Frank Morgan, Marilyn Maxwell, and Raymond Burr.

    Young plays Clarissa Standish, a somewhat uptight small-town mayor who attends a gubernatorial convention in San Francisco and runs into the somewhat wilder Mayor of Puget Sound, Steve Fisk (Gable). Before you know it, the two are innocently involved in one scandal after another, the first when a night club they are in is raided, and the second when they're both wearing Halloween costumes and a policeman thinks Fisk is trying to force himself on a young girl, Clarissa being in a little girl costume. Despite Clarissa's exasperation with Fisk, she falls for him.

    This is a cute, predictable comedy starring two of the most attractive people from Hollywood's golden era, both of whom still look great, but who are now forced into inferior fare. Films were competing with television, so they were trying to be more like television, right down to the black and white film. This was the type of film producers gave older actresses: Claudette Colbert, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Young; all but Colbert and Crawford would go on to have tremendous success in television.

    One bad section: the fight between Gable and Burr. The doubles for them were horrendous,looking nothing like them, making the scene ridiculous.

    Mildly enjoyable, with the performances by Gable, Young, and Morgan elevating it.
  • whpratt11 September 2007
    This is a very entertaining film with two great actors, Clark Gable, (Steve Fisk) and Loretta Young,(Clarissa Standish) who performed like magic together in this film. These two actors made this film a great success with lots of laughs, romance and drama. In real life, Clark Gable and Loretta Young had a baby and kept it a secret until many years later. This warm feeling between these two actors made this film even more enjoyable. Frank Morgan, (Fire Chief Duggan) gave a great supporting role and lots of comic fun to this film along with Marilyn Maxwell, (Sheila) who played a sexy role as a platinum blonde who did a balloon dance with the balloons all being exploded. Raymond Burr, (Les Taggart) plays a rough and tough longshoreman who gets into a big fight with Steve Fisk. There is nice old scenes from San Francisco and this is truly a great film classic from 1950.
  • Very good movie.Predictable at times, but many interesting characters and scenes. Very well directed and the filming is great. The outdoor shots are a real period piece of that era.The acting is very good,as well as the dialog in the screen play.You never really lose interest with the constant change over in characters. Raymond Burr is excellent as the 'bad guy' of the film. Some very good comedic moments with smart dialog. You really have to listen as it comes smartly and rapid fire at times.Even the predictable tension building scenario's are well done and believable.Great chemistry between Clarke Gable and Lorreta Young.I would watch it again. Really enjoyed this one...............................ML
  • Key to the City (1950)

    ** 1/2 (out of 4)

    Coming fifteen years after teaming up for THE CALL OF THE WILD, Clark Gable and Loretta Young finally made another film together even though both had remained at MGM over the course of time. Their love child from the making of that 1935 film might have had something to do with this but in this film they play Mayors who meet at a convention in San Francisco. At first, naturally, they can't stand one another but soon they begin to fall in love even though Gable is facing some heat in his political job. When you know the troubled history that Gable and Young went through it's somewhat amazing that MGM would force them into this film but what's even more amazing is that they turn in such fine performances and the charm that's on display here is the same that was seen in that 1935 film (which I highly recommend). That's certainly the sign of great actors but it's a shame that the studio, knowing the trouble, wouldn't deliver a better screenplay. This is certainly another example of great actors having to work their tails off to make material seem a lot better than it actually is. This certainly isn't a bad movie because it does have several good moments but with these two stars you'll be hoping there was more here. What does work is naturally Gable and Young, both extremely charming and making the film fun to watch. The two work perfectly well together as both make you believe their characters and makes you believe everything they do. The supporting cast is also quite good with Raymond Burr as Gable's political rival, Frank Morgan (in his final film; he died before this was released) sweet as the fire chief and Lewis Stone. The screenplay makes a few bad mistakes including the silly political stuff that ends with a pretty over the top sequence inside of Gable's office at the end. This political stuff also keeps Gable and Young away from one another, which is another mistake as it's them carrying the film. Fans of the two stars will certainly want to check this out but others will find much better films from the two.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Clark Gable and Loretta Young look MGM production perfect as they play two Mayors who meet at a convention in San Francisco. Mr. Gable is the rough one, ex-longshoreman Steve Fisk. Ms. Young is the softer focused Clarissa Standish. The well-named twosome clash, of course, during the Mayoral proceedings - but, can romance be far behind?

    It's an average film for the two stars. Recommended scenes: the "Balloon Dance" woman who loses most of her balloons, and the "Barroom Brawl" which follows. All that gets Young in trouble with her constituents. Notable also as Frank Morgan's final film. Gable tussles Mr. Morgan's hair.

    ***** Key to the City (1950) George Sidney ~ Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Frank Morgan
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Clark Gable must have felt some nostalgia when he heard the song San Francisco played in this film. It certainly must have brought back memories of the classic 1936 film with that name with his co-stars Spencer Tracy and Jeanette MacDonald.

    On the other hand, we have a silly little film where Gable and Loretta Young play 2 mayors who meet and fall in love at a San Francisco convention. Along the way, they fumble into difficulty where they keep being sent downtown to the local jail.

    The movie would have even been better if they had concentrated on the political corruption that Mayor Fisk, (Gable) had encountered with a very corrupt Raymond Burr, the latter working for a terribly corrupt party boss.

    Of course, speaking of fumbling, Gable and Young do just that into falling in love. Clara Blandick, Lewis Stone, Marilyn Maxwell, and Frank Morgan provide ample support, but we essentially have an inane story here.
  • Back in the Golden Age of Hollywood Romance was alive in well. But when television came. Romance lost its steam. Now Key to the City is a funny and very rewarding film to watch. Clark Gable has a good leading lady. Loretta Young a very beautiful leading lady. Loretta Young's career in Hollywood has been legendary. So her acting in this film would be very good. Her other co-stars. Lewis Stone and Frank Morgan really make this picture a classic. This would be Frank Morgan's last film.

    But in this film there were goofs. At the end of the film became very silly at times. But see the film and enjoy the romance and the comedy associated with it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ...but here I think it was the writers that were screwy. I almost always enjoy Clark Gable, and I don't recall ever being disappointed in a Loretta Young film. But there was just something off about this film.

    Perhaps it's the plot. Mayors going to San Francisco for a convention...okay. Two mayors falling in love...okay. Two mayors getting married by the end of the movie...okay. But some of the stuff in between...not okay. Loretta Young's character in a low class Chinese restaurant where fisticuffs break out after a strip tease...not okay...and not funny. Clark Gable's character climbing an extremely high fire truck ladder to break into Young's hotel room...too absurd. Loretta's Young's jujitsu fight...bizarre. And that's sort of the way this movie goes. It almost seems as if they were thinking that they had to put a film together, but struggled to make it meaningful.

    I liked the supporting cast here, although this was not Frank Morgan's best role as a Fire Chief, and unfortunately it was his last film, which was not released until after his death. Marilyn Maxwell...too old to be an exotic dancer. Raymond Burr was fine as the bully villain. James Gleason had a good, though small role as a police sergeant. And the venerable Lewis Stone was showing his age here at age 71, though it was always good seeing him in a film.

    Gable had a number of excellent films after this is the decade before his death, including one of my favorite Gable films -- "It Started In Naples", which as a child I saw on the day he died, and again on the day he was buried. This film, however, is unmemorable and nearly an embarrassment.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Key to the City" is a very good comedy-romance. It has a fine mix of funny dialog, some crazy antics, and hilarious scenarios. Clark Gable is Puget City (California) Mayor Steve Fisk and Loretta Young is Wenonah (Maine) Mayor Clarissa Standish. From the opening scene as the credits role, we know this is going to be a fun film. After a view of San Francisco Bay, we see a fishmonger plop a sea bass on a newspaper to wrap it. The headline reads, "Welcome Mayors." Next, welcome hosts watch on TV as the San Francisco mayor welcomes all the other mayors, and then they change the welcome group sign from dentists to mayors.

    In the hotel lobby, Clarissa is invited to a cocktail party hosted by the Cement Sewer Construction Co. Then she gets a convention souvenir booklet, "Compliments of the Jackson Jail and Penitentiary Equipment Co." The model is standing behind prison bars and is dressed in prison stripe tights. Next is a handout from a model in a makeshift truck driver's seat, who says, "This is the latest word on garbage trucks. There's no flies on us." Last, a model wearing a fireman's hat offers Corona Corona cigars, compliments of the Defiance Fire Engine Corp. This must be the top caliber fire engine because the Stevens Fire Engine Co. is giving away Perfecto Perfecto cigars. The comedy really gets underway after the two mayors from opposite coasts meet.

    Besides the comedy and romance, this film is a gentle spoof of conventions and it pokes some fun at public officials (er, servants). This exchange at the hotel front desk is a real hoot. Clarissa, "Mayor Standish of Wenonah, Maine – the Pine Tree State." Desk clerk (played by Clinton Sundberg), "Uh, where is his honor?" Clarissa, "Mayor Clarissa Standish." Desk clerk, "Oh, yes, of course. Yes, we've reserved a room for Mayor Standish." Clarissa, "Thank you! How much?" Desk clerk, "$15 a day." Clarissa, "Well, I'm sure it's a very beautiful room, but you see, I'm traveling at the taxpayers' expense." Desk clerk, "Oh, well, in that case, I can give you a lovely suite for 45... uh, with a view of Alcatraz." Clarissa, "If I spend over $7 a day, I shall be in Alcatraz." Desk clerk, "Yes, your honor, $7."

    The film has some long-time top supporting actors. Frank Morgan (the Wizard in "The Wizard of Oz") is superb as Fire Chief Duggan. James Gleason plays Police Sergeant Hogan. Clinton Sundberg is hilarious as Mark Mont, the hotel desk clerk. Lewis Stone plays Clarissa's uncle, Judge Silas Standish. And Raymond Burr plays the cad, Les Taggart. Seeing Burr in this and other early films, one wonders what the movie and TV moguls saw in him to star as Perry Mason in the 1957-66 TV series. Well, I guess it doesn't take a great actor for an attorney role, if one has great scripts. Don't get me wrong. I was in the throng of viewers who couldn't wait for the next installment of the Perry Mason show. Then, later, the same thing with Ironside when that series ran from 1967-75. And, of course, a long string of TV movies as Perry Mason from 1985 up to 1993 when he died.

    Anyway, in this movie, Burr is a bad guy, and he and Gable go to it with the fists for a long time until Fisk finally downs Taggart and dumps him in the city hall fishpond.

    The romance between Fisk and Standish is woven between the mayors convention committee meetings, a night out, and a couple of run-ins to jail. The Fire Chief comes to the rescue more than once, with some speeding fire trucks. There is definitely good chemistry between the two leads. This is 15 years after Gable and Young appeared together in "Call of the Wild," when they had an off-screen affair. Gable was married then but Young wasn't, and when she became pregnant, she went into seclusion. She went with her mother to Europe to conceal her pregnancy, then returned to have her baby while pretending to be sick. Her daughter, Judy, was born on Nov. 6, 1935. The baby was put into orphanages and after 19 months, Loretta announced that she was adopting a child. Judy only learned that Gable was her biological father five years after he died.

    This is a wonderful light comedy-romance with some good spoofery of local elected politicians and the city conventions trade. Young has some hilarious scenes where she sticks her foot in her mouth ever so beautifully. To see more of the funny dialog, see the Quotes section on this IMDb Web page of the film. Here are a couple samples.

    Clarissa, "Well, we're not here to play, we're here to work. That's what you said over the television." Steve Fisk, "I was just making a speech." Clarissa, "But you said you didn't know anything about making speeches." Steve, "That's the way you make a speech." Clarissa, "Oh. Oh, I see."

    Steve, "Fine jail you've got here. And I've been in some of the best." Clarissa, "I'll bet you have." Steve, "As mayor."

    Uncle Silas, "Public service is a fine thing, Clarrie, but you can't cuddle up to it on a cold winter's night."

    Les Taggart, "The newspapers like to smell pork and it's your bacon that's burning."

    Clarissa, "You have brains but on your brawn they're so becoming."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Producer: Z. Wayne Griffin. Copyright 2 February 1950 (in notice: 1949) by Loew's Inc. An M-G-M picture. New York opening at Loew's State: 1 February 1950. U.S. release: 24 February 1950. U.K. release: 17 July 1950. Australian release: 14 July 1950. 8,999 feet. 99 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: A romantic comedy in which a business-like woman from Maine (Loretta Young) and an ex-longshoreman (Clark Gable) meet as delegates to a mayor's convention in San Francisco.

    COMMENT: It's almost inevitable in a romantic comedy that a few dull patches will surface here and there as the clichés of cute meets and their subsequent romantic entanglements and misunderstandings are thoroughly thrashed out. But running parallel to all this in Key to the City are three or four more lively threads, including a couple of chucklesome sequences with James Gleason parlaying with a wonderfully cute lychee seller (uncredited), as well as running interference with a gaggle of newshounds led by a delightfully resurgent Marvin Kaplan. We also enjoyed the entrance and climactic comeuppance of our favorite heavy, Raymond Burr (even though obvious stuntmen were much in evidence in the actual fight); whilst it's always such a pleasure to encounter Marilyn Maxwell, we couldn't help feeling a bit sorry when her stuntperson suffered such a significant defeat at the hands of Loretta Young.

    As for Miss Young herself, she acquits her tailor-made role quite ably, but we felt she was outshone by her more pliant and-dare we say it?-more charismatic co-star, Clark Gable. Amongst the support players not commended as yet, I'd like to single out Frank Morgan and Clinton Sundberg as contributors of the most fun. Both are artists with an ability to transmute silvery dialogue into pure entertainment gold. Technically, the movie benefits from Sidney's sometimes lively direction and the always superb camerawork of Harold Rosson. Some real city hall-type locations are effectively utilized too.

    OTHER VIEWS: The comedy takes a distinct second place to romance, though it does incorporate a few fast action highlights of which the first, a slapstick brawl in a Chinese night club, is by far the funniest and most inventively far-fetched. As might be expected, the script's opportunities for political satire are crowded out by the main virile-male-meets-girl-of-his-dreams plot, but George Sidney's direction has its clever moments and Harold Rosson's photography is never less than skilfully atmospheric. A big budget helps too.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A talented cast here brings off a pretty good comedy. Clark Gable is playing a Honest Longshoreman who has been elected Mayor in a Corrupt California City. He is attending a Mayors Convention in San Francisco. He has 2 blonde lady friends including Marilyn Maxwell who are exotic dancers trying to show him a good time. Then he meets a Mayor from Maine (Loretta Young) and the fireworks begin to crackle.

    Meanwhile Gables city is starting to ram through a crooked building project headed by a seedy ringleader (Raymond Burr). This leads to a whole lot of comedy as Gable is torn between the blondes, Young, and then has to go back home to stop Burr. Meanwhile Gable and Young get caught by the San Francisco Police in a couple of raids. Fearing scandal Young is between a rock and a hard place trying to keep her reputation and court Gable all at once.

    Then there is the police Sargent played by James Gleason who keeps covering for the 2 of them after each arrest. This is one of James Gleasons better supporting roles. Frank Morgan plays a confidant of Gable though he speaks with the strangest Irish/Scottish type of accent I have ever heard throughout the movie.

    There is more to this, but if you want to enjoy a great cast giving you some laughs, this movie is very much worth your time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    For those who know that Loretta Young had an affair with Clark Gable many years before this movie, when he was married, and had a daughter whom she pretended she adopted, their romantic pairing here may seem embarrassing rather than exciting. What's also awkward is that both too old for the silly incidents that make up the he-man vs. beautiful spinster plot: woman embarrassed by sexy dance in nightclub, people arrested by mistake, man thrown into fountain. The dumb joke of people talking at cross-purposes (respectable woman mistaken for party girl, men in adjoining phone booths not realising they are talking to each other) is repeated again and again. They are also too old to fall in love and decide to get married on the same night--by the standards of the time, Young, at 37, would have been, like Gable at 49, middle aged. And both are too old to be resolving matters with a knock-down, drag-out fight (Young with Marilyn Maxwell, Gable with Raymond Burr) that is very obviously performed with stand-ins. Two references to earlier Gable greats (Young plays "San Francisco" on the piano during a nightclub riot, Gable threatens to break a woman's bedroom door down, as he did in Gone with the Wind) are not cheekily amusing, just depressing reminders of much better movies.

    In a way, the worst thing about the movie is the way it exemplifies its time. It's so Fifties! Although Young has devoted her life to public service, Clark Gable just has to kiss her and she can't wait to throw over her career and start baking cookies. The lazy direction, lacking rhythm and snap, of this story full of holes, that invites us to laugh at grownups acting silly is typical of that patronising, anti- intellectual decade.

    On the plus side, there are some clever lines and a good cast of supporting players, including Raymond Walburn and Jimmy Gleason. I don't include among them Frank Morgan (the Wizard of Oz), doing his tongue- tied, fumble-thumbs schtick for the umpteenth time. Am I the only one who thinks he acts like a child molester?