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Early on in the movie, Captain David Ross (William Holden) an American serving in the Canadian Army is transferred to the naval branch and sent to Britain as a replacement tugboat captain due to his past employment in that profession. He hooks up with old friend Captain Ford and the movie becomes an exploration of war's toll on morals and humanity.
Anyone who has faced imminent life threatening danger head-on will appreciate this movie. It honestly looks at men and women who move forward despite the fear inside. It also shows them losing their grip in private moments, then turning to face the world with a mask of fortitude. This is a thinking man's war movie and is especially suited for anyone interested in a story that goes deep and explores the real emotions of people who trudge through the war as survivors living on borrowed time.
If you like a good moral tale and also have an interest in ships and the sea (the footage of HMT Restive is real and shows the ship in all her rescue tug glory), you must not miss this movie. The acting is handled with a personal touch and Carol Reed directs with sympathy and an expert vision to bring out the haunting quality of humanity's dark side. "The Key" ranks alongside "The Cruel Sea" as an outstanding and insightful war movie. Definitely one of the best.
Victor M. Baca Editor & Publisher MODEL SHIP JOURNAL
From the beginning the Holden character, a bit older than the others (excepting Trevor Howard and Oskar Homolka), is faced with proving himself, and having become one of the lads chooses that identity (by passing on The Key to his harshest critic) over the transforming love the Loren character has experienced. The happy if incredible ending (he shoves the guard aside, forces the gates open and sprints to pull himself aboard the last car, in which Loren is seated looking as if she doesn't believe it either) denies that choices have consequences that can't be fixed.
Holly Martin, in The Third Man, made an even harder choice and paid the price. According to the biography, Graham Greene tried to soften the ending but Reed held firm. Evidently he lacked the clout to do so again.
The DVD technology that allows rated and unrated versions to coexist on disc could be put to better use here. Let's hope the negatives have been preserved.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Key, 1958 film
This drama is set during WW II and concerns British ocean-going tug boats. They rescue ships damaged by German submarines. Read more
I am not really sure about this movie because for some reason I expected more. More Bill Holden and Sophia Loren together. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Annie
I read this book many years ago and was glad to see the movie. Very well done.Published 18 months ago by Cap10Pete
I have waited a long time to see a proper Cinemascope transfer of this wonderful film. Ignore the Cornerstone/Palladium release. It is 4.3 and that's just not on. Read morePublished 20 months ago by A. W. Wilson
I do not share the other reviewers giving this mostly five stars. At best it's a "3," and that is stretching things. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Talentseer