The Key (1934 film)

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The Key
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Produced by Robert R. Presnell, Sr.
Written by Laird Doyle
R. Gore Brown
Jocelyn Lee Hardy
Starring William Powell
Edna Best
Music by Allie Wrubel (composer)
Mort Dixon (composer)
Cinematography Ernest Haller
Edited by Thomas Richards
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • June 9, 1934 (1934-06-09) (U.S.)
Running time
71 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Key is a 1934 Pre-Code American film directed by Michael Curtiz. It was re-issued as High Peril (pre-release title Sue of Fury) in 1960.[1] The story concerns a love triangle and is set during the Irish War of Independence. It characterises the Irish Republican Army as "little more than a gangster organization."[2]


Captain Bill Tennant (William Powell) is a British officer stationed in Dublin in 1920. Tennant gets involved with Norah, the wife of his best friend, British intelligence officer Captain 'Andy' Kerr. Kerr is captured by the IRA, to be released only on condition that an Irish prisoner, Peadar Conlan, is not hanged. Tennant forges an order for Conlan's release, saving the life of his lover's husband, but at the cost of a prison sentence.[3]



One of the writers of the film script was Captain J L 'Hoppy' Hardy, a decorated veteran of World War I who had made repeated escapes from German prisoner of war camps. His nickname derived from his wooden leg, having lost a limb in combat.

After the Great War Hardy served as a military intelligence officer attached to the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary during the Irish War of Independence.[4] He specialised in interrogating IRA prisoners and became a hated figure for them, frequently accused of brutality.[5]

He brings his experiences to the film and the characters of Tennant and Kerr may have been inspired by his contemporary officers Douglas Duff who referred to himself as a 'soldier for hire' in his autobiography and W. L. King who served with Hardy as an intelligence officer and romanced and married a Dublin girl during his service in Ireland. [6][not in citation given] [7][not in citation given]


  1. ^ "Title Key, The Sue Of Fury". Irish Film & TV Research Online - Trinity College Dublin. Retrieved 10-06-2012.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ Gillespie, Michael Patrick (2008). The Myth of an Irish Cinema: Approaching Irish-Themed Films. Syracuse University Press. p. 202. ISBN 978-0-8156-3193-4. 
  3. ^ Jeffery, Keith (1996). An Irish Empire?: Aspects of Ireland and the British Empire Studies in Imperialism. Manchester University Press ND,. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7190-3873-0. 
  4. ^ Hopkinson, Michael (2002). The Irish War of Independence. Gill & Macmillan. p. 91. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^

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