The Key

The Key

Kon Ichikawa (1959)

A Certificate


Our Score
Kon Ichikawa's darkly comic tale of spousal obedience and sexual prowess is also a sly satire on pornography and cinematic voyeurism. Adapted from the novel by Junichiro Tanizaki, the action stems from an ageing husband's hope that his wife's infidelity with a doctor will restore his potency. However, the liaison only sparks a tragic rivalry between his liberated wife and his ultra-traditional daughter. Compromised in its content by contemporary censorship strictures, this is still a daringly subversive picture, which benefits both from the subtly coloured widescreen lensing and the exemplary performance of Machiko Kyo, as the accommodating and unexpectedly accomplished wife.


Naval officer Chris introduces tugboat captain David to his girlfriend Stella, and asks him to look after her if he should be killed on duty. When Chris does not return from a mission, David falls for Stella himself - but soon learns that all her lovers have a tendency to die at sea Second World War romantic drama, starring William Holden, Sophia Loren and Trevor Howard.

Cast & Crew

Mr Kenmochi Ganjiro Nakamura
Ikuko Kenmochi Machiko Kyo
Kimura Tatsuya Nakadai
Toshiko Kenmochi Junko Kano
Hana Tanie Kitabayashi
Masseur Ichiro Sugai
Dr Soma Jun Hamamura
Dr Kodama Mantaro Ushio
Curio dealer Kyu Sazanka
Director Kon Ichikawa
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Other Information

Language: Japanese +subtitlesColour