6.6/10
1,171
19 user 4 critic

The Key (1958)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, War | 6 June 1958 (UK)
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.

Director:

Carol Reed

Writers:

Jan de Hartog (novel), Carl Foreman
Reviews
Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
William Holden ... Captain David Ross
Sophia Loren ... Stella
Trevor Howard ... Captain Chris Ford
Oskar Homolka ... Captain Van Dam (as Oscar Homolka)
Kieron Moore ... Kane
Bernard Lee ... Cmdr. Wadlow
Beatrix Lehmann ... Housekeeper
Noel Purcell ... Hotel Porter
Bryan Forbes ... First Mate Weaver
Sidney Vivian Sidney Vivian ... Grogan
Rupert Davies ... Baker
Russell Waters Russell Waters ... Sparks
Irene Handl ... Clerk
John Crawford ... American Captain
Jameson Clark Jameson Clark ... English Captain
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Storyline

During World War II, tugboats conduct what are called salvage missions, picking up disabled ships. Not well equipped with weaponry, the tugs are sitting ducks for enemy fire. As such, the crew working the tugs have precarious lives, many with deep seated emotional problems. Before the Americans join the war, ex-American military man David Ross is assigned to captain a tug for the British military. He is shown the ropes by an old friend, Captain Chris Ford. Chris currently shares a flat with a young beautiful Italian-Swiss woman named Stella, who came with the flat and who lives a reclusive life there. Chris is the latest in a long line of tugboat Captains who have lived there, each who has found another person to take over the flat and the associated looking after of Stella if anything is to happen to him. That person is given a key to the flat, the key only to be used if needed. The first in the series was Phillip Westerby, to whom Stella was to be married before Phillip was killed. ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"with this key I thee wed." See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 June 1958 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Stella See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The tug used in this movie was H.M.S. Restive (HMT W 39), a Royal Navy Rescue Tug of the Assurance class. This class of tugs was built between 1940 and 1943. With a 1,350 horsepower engine, these tugs could make fourteen knots and were powerful enough to haul just about any capital ship back to port. Five (out of twenty-one built) were lost during the war. The ship numbers used in this movie (W 83, W 86 and W 88) were not used by any ship of this class during the war. See more »

Goofs

Damaged ship is sending SSS instead of SOS, but during WWII merchants ships in danger was instructed to send RRR instead of SOS if attacked by a Surface ship or a SSS if attacked by a submarine. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Captain Chris Ford: Say, can you tell me where Cmdr. Wadlow's office is?
Captain Van Dam: Has America come into the war?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in McCullin (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Flat Foot Floogie
(uncredited)
Music by Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart
Lyrics by Bud Green
Sung by the chorus girls
See more »

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User Reviews

Good English wartime melodrama
7 March 2004 | by Zen BonesSee all my reviews

Sophia Loren shines in a rather somber role as a woman in England who obstinately attaches herself to British naval officers that are involved in some of the most dangerous assignments in the war. Their job is to try to rescue the crews and cargo of ships that have been destroyed by Nazi ships or submarines. Since the Nazis know exactly where the battle took place, they know where the rescue ships are going to be, so the death rate among the rescue teams is very high. The great Trevor Howard gives a wonderfully understated performance, and William Holden also holds his own very well. The film is rather slow, though I prefer to call it casually paced. The wartime atmosphere of southern England is illustrated with good detail, and the action sequences are well-choreographed and suspenseful. It's not a great film, but I prefer it to most of those 'stiff upper lip' wartime melodramas that England and Hollywood produced in the forties.


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