A locksmith if coerced into making keys for a safety deposit box. He’s caught between two gangsters. The movie is based on the novel “The Lock And The Key” by mystery writer Frank Gruber. The movie has a lot more dull spots than suspenseful moments and would have been better as a half hour TV episode.
Gangster Willis Trent hires locksmith Tommy Dancer (William Campbell) to make a key for a footlocker. When Tommy gets to Trent’s place a party is going on. Tommy doesn’t know this is a test of his ability. He easily makes the key and Trent tells him to enjoy himself at the party.
He spots a knockout blonde names Flo (Anita Ekberg) but she’s occupied with lawyer Earl Farraday. So he tries to chat up Betty Turner (Karen Sharpe). That doesn’t work because Farraday says she’s his girl. Farraday warns Tommy if he’s looking for trouble he’s going about it the right way.
Tommy walks past a crying Betty outside. She drives him home and goes into his place. She tells him she’s twenty-three and lives in Beverly Hills with her parents who give her anything she wants. He tries to put a lip lock on her and she takes off.
The next morning Trent stops by Tommy’s apartment. His minion, boxer Louie (Mike Mazurki) is with him. Trent offers Tommy five grand to make keys for a safety deposit box. He turns him down.
Betty left her mink stole at Tommy’s and he goes to her place to return it. She puts the freeze on but that doesn’t last long. Meanwhile Trent and Louis are in Farraday’s office. In walks rival gangster Paul DeCamp. DeCamp tells Trent that he’s moved up from the gutter when the two of them were in business together. He warns him to leave town.
Tommy and Betty are starting to fall for each other. That night they go to the closed Hollywood Bowl. They don’t know Louis is following them. After they both go to their homes Tommy is worked over by Louis who leaves the five grand behind. Betty is confronted by a drunk Farraday. He spills the beans. He says Trent paid him to romance Flo. She’s DeCamp’s girlfriend. Farraday was supposed to get the number of Paul’s safety deposit box and the name of his bank.
The next day Tommy goes to Trent’s place. When Trent opens the door Tommy punches him out and tosses the five grand at him. Trent tells him he’ll have Louis take care of Betty’s face if he doesn’t do the job.
Tommy goes to the bank and buys a safety deposit box. In the vault he makes keys for DeCamp’s box. After that he’s confronted by gangster Herbie (Paul Fix). He says the box contains two hundred thousand bucks and they can split it. Tommy says no. When Tommy goes to deliver the keys he spots Betty and Farraday. He doesn’t know that Betty was trying to protect him and before she can see him he leaves and goes back to the bank where he robs the box. He just bought himself a lot of trouble.
The movie just isn’t believable and the gangsters come off as pale imitations of movie gangsters and makes this one to skip.
William Campbell always seemed to play slightly irritating characters, but maybe that was just my impression because he had a bizarre resemblance to Liberace
I love this one. Rare.
A really fantastic film.