Sophia Loren stars as Stella in this grim WWII drama. Fixated on the death of a lover who was a tugboat captain, she gives the key to her apartment to a succession of such captains, thereby numbing herself to all emotion while rewarding them for their bravery. Theirs is a risky profession, entailing the rescue of damaged cargo vessels, a job whose high fatality quotient leads to a rapid rate of turnover in the young woman's bed. But when Chris (Trevor Howard) turns the key over to recent arrival David Ross (William Holden), Stella begins to change.
Bryan Forbes - Director/Screenwriter/Actor
Turk Thrust - Director/Screenwriter/Actor
John Seton - Director/Screenwriter/Actor
Sophia Loren - Oscar winning Italian actress, EL CID, LA CIOCIARA
Sofia Scicolone - Oscar winning Italian actress, EL CID, LA CIOCIARA
Bernard Lee - British Supporting Actor
Trevor Howard - British Actor
Carl Foreman - Screenwriter, BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI
Rupert Davies - British Actor
Carol Reed - British Director/Producer
Sir Carol Reed - British Director/Producer
Geoffrey Drake - Production Designer
Jan De Hartog
Oswald Morris - British DOP - "Lolita", "The Man Who Would Be King"
William Holden - American actor, STALAG 17, SUNSET BOULEVARD, NETWORK
William Franklin Beedle Jr. - American actor, STALAG 17, SUNSET BOULEVARD, NETWORK
Bill Holden - American actor, STALAG 17, SUNSET BOULEVARD, NETWORK
Oscar Homolka - Austrian Character Actor
Oskar Homolka - Austrian Character Actor
Sidney Vivian - actor
Bert Bates - British Editor
Wilfred Shingleton - British Production Designer/Art Director
The strain of war on relationships is the terrain Carol Reed explores in this grim WWII drama. THE KEY stars Sophia Loren as Stella, a young Swiss woman whose grief over the death of her fiancé has led her to offer herself to a string of others who share his dangerous profession. Like Chris Ford (Trevor Howard), her current lover, he captained a tugboat that patrolled U-boat lanes, rescuing damaged cargo ships. Believing that his number also will soon be up, Ford gives Stella's apartment key to his friend David Ross (William Holden), another tug captain, only recently arrived in England. After Ford's death, Ross overcomes his initial reluctance and makes use of the key. Stella is touched by Ross's vulnerability, and the two quickly fall in love. But, given her past, Ross is still not entirely sure of her love. Eventually he must take on an extremely perilous assignment from which he believes he won't return and must decide whether to pass the key along to another man. THE KEY is a complicated, rewarding film, most notable perhaps for its gritty, exciting scenes of naval rescue.
THE KEY marked the emergence of screenwriter Carl Foreman from the McCarthy-era blacklist.