The Keys of the Kingdom (1944)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Religious Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 15, 1944 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 137 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

The Keys of the Kingdom established Gregory Peck as an important new presence in Hollywood and proved that he could carry a movie -- which he certainly does here. While Keys has a number of assets other than Peck, it also has its share of flaws that work against it. These include its length, which, combined with some inattentive pacing from Lumsden Hare and John M. Stahl, makes for some fairly dull patches throughout. There's also a distinct lack of humor almost throughout, this situation interrupted only by an occasional cynical remark from Thomas Mitchell. Surprisingly, considering that Nunnally Johnson and Joseph L. Mankiewicz wrote the screenplay, there's an abundance of stilted dialogue as well. Fortunately, Peck is on hand to mitigate these flaws, and he gives a commanding performance, full of his usual quiet dignity and intelligence, and spiked with a stubbornness and inner fire that make the character truly come alive. The supporting cast is also solid, with especially fine work from Rosa Stradner, the aforementioned Mitchell, and a wonderfully pompous Vincent Price, and Arthur C. Miller's incisive cinematography deserves a special nod. Keys also benefits from its subject matter, and those viewers who respond strongly to stories with an inspirational bent will be especially taken with the film.