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Stuart Heisler's 1942 film THE GLASS KEY retained the personages and major plot twists of Dashiell Hammett's 1930 novel by the same name, but wiped the grim off the original tale. By cleaning up the characters and their motives, the film missed an opportunity to picture its stellar cast (Dunlevy, Ladd, and Lake) in a noir light. Instead, for much of its running time it looks and feels like the glamour whodunnit pictures, or populist clean-government reform films, of the 1930's. Hammett's novel finally received proper treatment in the Coens' 1990 masterpiece MILLER'S CROSSING. Though filmed in color, this movie borrows heavily from classical noir, and gives us characters as complex and morally flawed as any envisioned by Hammett. This podcast—the third double-feature of "Out of the Past" to examine how the Coens' films have been inspired by the fiction of Cain, Chandler, and Hammett, as well as previous film adaptations of these masters of hardboiled—is brought to you by Clute and Edwards of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_11_01_GKMC.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:21 PM
Comments[2]

  • Excellent stuff. I\\\'m glad you pointed out the lack of appreciation for Jon Polito; people don\\\'t seem to recognize how brilliant he is in this movie. I\\\'d also like to point out (seems like a good place for it) that while the story is a sort of sideways version of The Glass Key, the Coens also borrowed from The Big Knockover. In the original script a few of the characters had names lifted directly from TBK, like Bernie \\\'The Motsa Kid\\\' Bernheimer (Bernie Bernbaum), Bluepoint Vance (The Dane), and O\\\'Gar (O\\\'Doole). The names Regan, Larrouy, and Cudahy also appear.

    posted by: some guy with lots of useless information on 2007-11-13 08:14:00

  • Wow, an incredible episode. I was anxious to hear this one. And I am extremely flattered that you not only gave me credit for the suggestion but also quoted my e-mail. Well, thank you so much, you guys are too cool. As far as the movies in question, I always felt the \"Glass Key\" movie was a disappointing adaptation of a truly great Hammett novel for many reasons, but you guys are even more critical of it than I am! It was a rare but fascinating treat to hear you guys dissect one of the less satisfying films in this genre - and give your well-thought explanations why. I\'m glad you agree with me, however, that Miller\'s Crossing is a true modern masterpiece. All in all, this was one of your best episodes ever and I am proud to have been able to contribute in my own small way. I look forward to the next podcast... And if I may offer one last suggestion, I would still like to hear you do the Alphaville/Dark City episode! Later, guys. -Bryan

    posted by: Bryan Baugh on 2007-11-14 02:10:00

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