The Girl in the Flat
Having once been a tug boat captain in the Canadian Army, American David Ross (William Holden) comes out of retirement to help the Royal Navy who has built a team of tug boats to go on dangerous rescue missions. It is how he comes in to contact with his old friend Captain Chris Ford (TTrevor Howard) who takes him back to the apartment where he lives with Stella (Sophia Loren). As David Ross learns Stella was due to marry one tug boat captain but he died on a mission but before he died he passed a key to the place on to a friend asking them to take care of Stella if the worse happened. Eventually the key has made its way to Chris who like others who have been there before him is in love with the beautiful Stella and plans to marry her but as has been the custom gets a copy of the key made and asked David to move in if the worse happens. Reluctantly he agrees and when the worse happens finds himself also in love with Stella.
"The Key" is a curious movie, a fascinating wartime melodrama which combines this rather unique romantic drama combined with a glimpse at the dangers of being a tug boat captain in the Royal Navy during WWII. Now that does give "The Key" a semi typical side as we see the work of the tug boat men, the various dangers they face and the fact they had to deal with the loss of colleagues and friends. And this side is nicely put together with some entertaining and impressive action scenes as well as those which show how dealing with loss affects the men especially those who have to deal with seeing friends replaced by strangers.
But of course "The Key" is not so much about the work of these men but this interesting set up of the girl in the flat who everyman who falls for her and moves in basically asks a friend to take care of her if the worst was to happen to them. It is certainly unique and also powerful as we see that not only does Stella keep the photo of the first tug boat captain she loved on the side but in her closet are the spare clothes of the tug boat captains who came after him, each having been given a key and asked to look after the attractive Stella. But it is curious especially how Stella seems to just accept the replacements when they arrive whilst the David those jackets are a reminder of the danger he is in. And then you have how this plays out with David ending up falling for Stella causing complications when he also asks another to care of her if something ever happened to him.
What is interesting about "The Key" is that there are a lot of good performances with William Holden delivering charm and strength whilst Trevor Howard delivers some humour. But all these actors are outshone by Sophia Loren who it seems spends a lot of time just walking around the apartment in pyjamas and a robe not really saying much. Yet the looks which she gives and the power of the Loren eyes is so strong that it dominates the movie and is one of the main things you remember "The Key" for.
What this all boils down to is that "The Key" is a lot more entertaining than you might first think with this wonderfully unique storyline about the girl in the flat and the series of men who end up sharing the place. But whilst it is beautifully shot and has some impressive action scenes it is Sophia Loren who makes this movie.