Keyhole, The (1933): Curtiz’s Pre-Code Romantic Melodrma, Starring Kay Francis and George Brent

Michael Curtiz directed The Keyhole, a pre-Code romantic drama, starring Kay Francis and George Brent.

Produced by Hal B. Wallis, the script was written By Robert Presnell and Alice D.G. Miller.

Francis plays Anne Brooks, married to wealthy businessman Schuyler Brooks (Henry Kolker), is being blackmailed by former husband Maurice Le Brun (Monroe Owsley), who is lying about finalizing their divorce.

Brooks’ sister suggests that Anne takes a ship to Havana, to lure Le Brun out of the U.S., which will  block him from re-entering.

Suspicious that she is having an affair, Brooks hires private detective Neil Davis (George Brent) to follow her.  After leaking to Le Brun her trip, he also boards the ship. Meanwhile, Davis becomes amorous of Anne upon meeting her.

Upon learning from his sister about the blackmailing, Brooks leaves for Cuba to apologize to Anne for his suspicions.

Confessions pile up: During the cruise, Anne reveals to Davis that she is married to Brooks, and he reveals that he is a private detective hired by Brooks.

The last scene is set at the Hotel Metropol. To save Anne’s marriage, Davis persuades him to leave via the balcony so that Brooks won’t find him in a compromising position.

In the end, Anne terminates her marriage, and Le Brun falls from the balcony to his death, clearing the path for a new union with Davis.

Though a minor film–mostly a vehicle for Kay Francis–The Keyhole is smoothly directed by Curtiz, who would go onto making major Warner Oscar-winning movies, such as “Casablanca” in 1943 and “Mildred Pierce” in 1945.



Running time: 69 minutes

End Note:

I am grateful to TCM for showing this rarely shown film on November 19, 2018.