The Key (1958)

Approved   |    |  Drama, Romance, War

The Key (1958) Poster

During World War II, successive tugboat British Captains sent on dangerous salvage missions pass-on the key to a home-port apartment, where a lonely Swiss-Italian young war-widow lives.



  • William Holden and Sophia Loren in The Key (1958)
  • William Holden and Sophia Loren in The Key (1958)
  • The Key (1958)
  • William Holden in The Key (1958)
  • Sophia Loren in The Key (1958)
  • William Holden and Sophia Loren in The Key (1958)

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12 June 2008 | cougarblue
| Enlightening chapter on little known WW II operations
If I were to explain to someone this film's plot in a nutshell, some church lady and maybe others will label this film as some kind of a pinnacle of adultery. In reality any sexual content is needed to add to the hopelessness faced by those who heroically undertook to save the lives of the English, Danish, Swedes, Americans, surviving Nazi attacks on North Sea shipping. You compare the brave men facing extremely high odds of losing their lives in the rescues to the first Marines on the Normandy beaches on June 7, 1944, seen in "The Longest Day", or the B-17 pilots engaged in daylight bombing as portrayed in "12 O' Clock High". This is a war film only slightly just as "Barefoot in the Park" is not a movie about a park. The Key is not listed with all the other WW II movies, because it's less war than a study in how one copes with certain death. Ms Loren is at her best playing the girl who goes with the apartment, Trevor Howard, the British steady in almost every WW II classic is superb. The next holder of the "Key" is Sunset Blvd.'s William Holden, playing the same brooding, sullen, character we are used to. I'm close to adding Mr. Holden to the list of actors playing themselves along with Dean Martin, Burt Reynolds, Gig Young, and many others. However at the end, you are victim of a huge surprise, when a battle battered, nearly drowned, Holden unexpectedly returns to the apartment, to find the next in line already holding court. He breaks with his type casting at that point and you're treated to a great ending. Not wanting to reveal the entire idea behind the key, I'm been very vague, but as I added the characters and the roles they played, I've created more confusion than I intended. Let me try to do a short outline on The Key. A rescue boat captain rents an apartment near the South Hampton docks, which includes the beautiful Sophia Loren. Knowing his life has "the same length as a lit match", he copies the key forcing it on a close friend, so that friend, (also a rescue boat captain) may take over the apartment in the occasion of his death. The process repeats itself three times when Trevor Howard becomes the key holder, and the film picks up here. On the very day the Howard character has set to marry the Ms. Loren character the film becomes a hanky grabber. You may only be able to catch this great movie on TCM, but if you are a fan of Loren, Howard or Holden, DO NOT miss it. You will be touched, saddened, then given a good dose of hope.

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