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The Key (1934)

Approved | | Drama | 9 June 1934 (USA)
British officer is assigned to duty in Ireland and gets embroiled in Anglo-Irish battles and old girl friend who is now married to an Irishman. Powell learns more than he wanted to know ... See full summary »


Michael Curtiz


Laird Doyle (screenplay), R. Gore Brown (play) (as R. Gore-Browne) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
William Powell ... Captain Bill Tennant
Edna Best ... Norah Kerr
Colin Clive ... Captain Andrew 'Andy' Kerr
Hobart Cavanaugh ... Homer - Tennant's Aide
Halliwell Hobbes ... General C.O. Furlong
Donald Crisp ... Peadar Conlan
J.M. Kerrigan ... O'Duffy
Henry O'Neill ... Dan
Phil Regan ... Young Irishman Killed by Andrew
Arthur Treacher ... Lt. Merriman - Furlong's Aide
Maxine Doyle ... Pauline O'Connor
Arthur Aylesworth ... Kirby
Gertrude Short ... Evie - a Barmaid
Anne Shirley ... Flower Girl (as Dawn O'Day)


British officer is assigned to duty in Ireland and gets embroiled in Anglo-Irish battles and old girl friend who is now married to an Irishman. Powell learns more than he wanted to know about "the Irish Problem." Written by Ed Lorusso

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Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

9 June 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

High Peril See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Captain Tennant is wearing the cap badge of the East Yorkshire Regiment. See more »


Capt. Bill Tennant: [sadly, to Norah] I suppose it's only in storybooks that there's a path back to yesterday.
See more »


There's a Cottage in Killarney
by Mort Dixon and Allie Wrubel
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Edna is not at her best here...
30 July 2019 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

... although I enjoy to some degree just about everything William Powell was ever in. He saves this from being a 4 or 5 star movie for me. Edna Best was a well respected actress of the stage, but she just did not impress on screen. The story is about a British intelligence officer (Colin Clive) and his wife (Edna Best) who is stuck on some old boyfriend (William Powell as another British officer and stuckee). To complicate matters, Powell and Clive are best friends from before either of them knew Edna, and now Clive and Edna are billeted in the apartment just below Powell.

The setting is weird for a Depression era Warner's film. In terrain usually traversed by Paramount or MGM, here is WB in the middle of a period piece romance/drama involving the Irish rebellion and the sinn fein.

The art design and attention to detail is very good here, with the actors even having the - by American standards - rather weird British means of saluting down pat. Michael Curtiz' direction is impressive, and he tries to make the film more interesting with some of his famous genius with the camera, but he just can't save this script or Best's shrill performance or lack of chemistry with either one of the leading men. I would expect the leading men to be more likely to chuck it all and go off together than to have either one of them win Best's final affection or want it in the first place.

Maybe the irony in all of this is that "The Key" was William Powell's final film at Warner Brothers, who was not that happy with the roles he was getting there. And what is the first film he does after arriving at MGM? The equally sappy "Manhattan Melodrama" in which we are expected to believe that Mickey Rooney grows up to be Clark Gable! Oh well, after this rough patch there are much better things ahead in film for William Powell.

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