A gloomy but sometimes thought-compelling film, THE KEY centers around the key to a small apartment occupied by Swiss-Italian immigrant Loren. Canadian tugboat captain Holden arrives in Plymouth, England to perform convoy rescue duty during WW II, going to the aid of vessels damaged by
Nazi planes and subs. He meets his old friend Howard, who takes him to the small flat to meet Loren. She has always been at the apartment, it seems, and is passed from tugboat captain to tugboat captain. The key changes hands when each tugboat captain feels that his number's up. Before Howard is
killed, he gives Holden the key, and, upon Howard's death, Holden moves in with Loren. She accepts these new men like a shell-shocked victim, with an almost bored attitude. Yet this time she falls in love with Holden, and he with her. Holden, who has been daring at sea when rescuing vessels,
begins to pull back, afraid of taking chances, especially when his tug, inadequately armed, is dogged by a German U-boat. Soon, he believes he will be killed and, in a moment of panic, gives the key to the apartment to another tugboat captain, hulking Moore, who has cast a lecherous eye on Loren
from the beginning. Holden, however, survives and races to the apartment. Loren is gone and Moore gives him back the key, telling Holden that Loren rejected him and left for London. Holden frantically races to the station but just misses the train Loren has taken. He vows he will go to London and
find her and make amends.
The whole story is far-fetched, master filmmaker Reed failing to develop the love story interspersed among the excellent at-sea scenes. The film is bleakly photographed and, except for Holden's top-level performance and Howard's almost cameo role, there is little more to recommend. Loren took the
role in this less-than-enviable Foreman opus against the wishes of her husband, film producer Carlo Ponti, wanting to attain status by working with such stellar talents as Reed, Howard, and Holden. Ponti's discomfort prompted him to provide male chaperones for his voluptuous wife whose "raw
sensuality" apparently attracted both Holden and Reed.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A gloomy but sometimes thought-compelling film, THE KEY centers around the key to a small apartment occupied by Swiss-Italian immigrant Loren. Canadian tugboat captain Holden arrives in Plymouth, England to perform convoy rescue duty during WW II, going to… (more)