Night Key


1h 7m 1937

Film Details

Release Date
May 2, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 7m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

As the Ranger Protective Agency, which services alarm systems for banks and other businesses, celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary, Steven Ranger, the head of the company, announces that the agency has captured its ten thousandth crook, a petty thief named Petty Louie. Dave Mallory, Steven's former partner, arrives with a new business proposal. He offers Steven a fifty-fifty partnership in a new alarm system he has developed which could bankrupt the Ranger Agency if another protective service developed it. A year earlier, Dave and Steven had fallen in love with the same woman, who later became Dave's wife. As an act of revenge, Steven used legal but unethical tactics to steal Dave's early alarm system and force him out of the company. Despite this, Dave has returned to Steven in good faith. Aware that the partnership papers include no provision as to a time-table in which the new system must be developed, Steven, still bitter, signs the papers, tying up the patent, and informs Dave that he never intends to release the system. Dave realizes he has been cheated by his ex-partner once again and now can never provide his daughter Joan with the kind of life he had hoped to, and decides to turn his invention against Steven. With his new system, Dave breaks Petty Louie out of the Ranger holding cell, leaving a note: "What I Have Created I Can Destroy." In partnership with Petty Louie, Dave begins a wholesale assault on Ranger's clients. Stealing nothing, he enters their businesses and piles their merchandise in large stacks on the floor, making the Ranger Agency the subject of great ridicule. He requires Petty Louie's help in these endeavors, as he is losing his eyesight. Meanwhile, back at the Ranger Agency, Steven assigns detective Jimmy Travers to find and stop Dave. Jimmy meets Joan and the two immediately fall in love. He convinces Joan to meet with the desperate Steven, who promises to right things with Dave if she offers her help. In the meantime, gangster John Baron and his gang have become aware of Dave and his anti-alarm system. They follow him to his break-ins, then steal the merchandise after he leaves. Baron then captures Dave, who is finally made aware of what has been happening. Dave tries to use his system to trap Baron's gang when they rob a bank, but the system fails, causing Dave to destroy it. Learning what Dave has done, Baron kidnaps Joan and threatens to kill her if Dave does not re-build it. Dave agrees, and after he does so, Baron locks him in a room, intending to kill him once he tests the system. For good measure, Baron takes Joan along as a hostage on the "test" bank robbery. Dave escapes from his lock-up and runs into Jimmy. Learning of Joan's fate, they go to the Ranger office where they set off all the alarms, knowing that the one alarm that does not go off is where Baron and his gang are. Their plan works, and Baron and his gang are captured by the police as Joan is rescued. Together once again, Dave and Steven form a new, truly equal partnership, and find an eye specialist who helps Dave overcome his blindness. Jimmy and Joan, on the other hand, have plans for their own partnership.

Film Details

Release Date
May 2, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 7m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to Hollywood Reporter, Arthur Lubin was originally set to direct this film, then was replaced by Sidney Salkow, who was later replaced by Lloyd Corrigan. Hollywood Reporter stated that Marcus Goodrich was assigned to re-write the script for Lubin, while Variety noted that John Francis Larkin later scripted for Salkow. The exact nature of these writers' contributions to the final film is not known. Motion Picture Herald reported that story author William Pierce was the secretary to Universal production head Charles R. Rogers. According to Hollywood Reporter pre-release news items, Polly Rowles, who was originally cast in a leading role, was replaced because of illness, and Alan Baxter replaced J. Carrol Naish in the role of "John Baron."