Monday, December 3, 2012

Peeping Kay

We return to visit our friend, Kay Francis in this wonderful little pre-code from 1933, The Keyhole.  Kay is a former dancer, Anne Brooks.  Now married to Schuyler Brooks (Henry Kolker), Anne is being blackmailed by her former dancing partner – and husband, Maurice (Monroe Owsley).  Maurice led Anne to believe they were divorced. Now that she is married to a wealthy, older man, he’s decided that she can be his meal ticket and provide him with a lifetime annuity.  Anne, of course, is having none of it.  She discusses the situation with her sister-in-law, who suggests heading to Havana, where Portia Brooks (Helen Ware) feels that she can use her pull to prevent Maurice (who is not American) from reentering the country. In the meantime, Schuyler has decided to have his wife followed by a private detective Neil Davis (George Brent), in the hopes of catching her at some indiscretion.

Monroe Owsley
This is a titillating little piece of pre-code fluff.  It’s wonderful to see George Brent in a somewhat questionable role – he is rather a gigolo; paid by his employers to sleep with their wives, in an attempt to get evidence against them. He still manages to make you like him.  And Kay is adorable as Anne.  She really is a good person; she is determined to be true to her husband, even though he doesn’t deserve it (even Portia is disgusted with him!). But she can't resist flirting with Neil. He's much to attractive to ignore.   We also get a shipboard romance, entwined with Anne attempting to outwit the slimy Maurice (Monroe Owsley is good at slimy). And Neil, totally confused by Anne's resistance to his charms.  

Here's the scene in which Maurice connives his way back into Anne's life:

What makes this a tad racy, of course, is knowing that Anne is not married to Schuyler, and watching her and her sister-in-law connive to keep the “marriage” together by getting rid of the legal husband.  There is also a little something at the ending which makes this a more dubious film for the post-code era, but we won't go into that here.

Next time, more Kay Francis. 

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