The Key Man (1957 film)

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The Key Man
Directed by Montgomery Tully
Written by J. MacLaren Ross
Produced by Alec C. Snowden
Cinematography Phil Grindrod
Distributed by Anglo Amalgamated Film Distributors
Release date
  • July 1957 (1957-07)
Running time
63 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The Key Man (released in the USA as Life at Stake) is a 1957 British B movie. The film was shot in black and white during a three week period in 1957 in response to an initiative by Anglo-Amalgamated to increase the number of British made B movies available. [1] Directed by Montgomery Tully, the screenplay was adapted from his own original story by Julian MacLaren-Ross. [2] MacLaren-Ross had been persuaded by producer Alec C. Snowden to write a script in late 1956 and after some doubts about the project delivered a screenplay to Snowden in January 1957, filming was started and completed the next month. [3] [4]


The film was subsequently released in the USA by United Artists under the title Life at Stake. [5] The story was adapted as a radio play and broadcast on the BBC Home Service in August 1960. [6]

Plot and reception

The film starts with footage of VE Day and crowds singing the Hokey Cokey and Auld Lang Syne.

Lee Patterson plays the lead character, Lionel Hulme, a radio reporter who is trying to trace both the man who committed a robbery 12 years ago (Arthur Smithers) as well as the proceeds of the robbery. [7] Arthur has apparently been discussing a key in his sleep in prison.

Hy Hazell plays the wife of the man Hulme is trying to find and Colin Gordon plays Hulme's boss. Reviews of the film were slight, the Monthly Film Bulletin described the film as "... indistinguishable from numerous others of its type; the plot and development are very slight; and the characters negative" with an overall rating of poor. [8]


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  1. Chibnall, Steve; McFarlane, Brian (2009). The British B Film. BFI. p. 100. ISBN   978-1844573196.
  2. "J. MacLaren Ross". Film Forever. BFI.
  3. MacLaren-Ross, Julian (2008). Willetts, Paul (ed.). Selected Letters. p. 282. ISBN   978-0948238383.
  4. Willetts, Paul. "Spellbound in Soho".
  5. Craddock, Jim (2005). Videohound's Golden Movie Retriever . p.  446. ISBN   978-0787674700.
  6. "Saturday-Night Theatre 'THE KEY MAN'". Radio Times. Vol. 48, no. 1916. 29 July 1960. p. 46.
  7. "The Key Man (1957)". Film Forever. BFI.
  8. "Key Man" . Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 24, no. 283. BFI. August 1957. p. 103.