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A Life at Stake

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Director  Paul Guilfoyle
Initial release  1954
Screenplay  Russ Bender
Language  English
5.8/10 IMDb

Genre  Drama, Film-Noir
Music director  Les Baxter
Country  United States
A Life at Stake movie poster
Writer  Russ Bender, Hank McCune
Cast  Angela Lansbury (Doris Hillman), Keith Andes (Edward Shaw), Douglass Dumbrille (Gus Hillman), Claudia Barrett (Madge Neilan), Jane Darwell (Landlady), Gavin Gordon (Sam Pearson)
Similar movies  San Andreas, Straight Outta Compton, The Big Sleep, Dope, The Asphalt Jungle, Salt
Tagline  A Cheat At Heart From Her Painted Toes To Her Plunging Neckline!

A life at stake 1954 film noir drama

A Life at Stake is a 1954 American film noir directed by Paul Guilfoyle. It stars Angela Lansbury and Keith Andes.


A Life at Stake movie scenes

The film is also known as Key Man.

A life at stake 1955 angela lansbury

Plot summary

Down-on-his-luck Los Angeles architect and builder Edward Shaw (Keith Andes) is approached by Doris Hillman (Angela Lansbury) with a business proposal: buying land together, on which he would build houses that she would then sell, using her experience as a former real estate broker. Her husband, Gus Hillman, a wealthy businessman, would be willing to contribute half a million dollars as capital for the venture.

Doris quickly seems interested in more than a purely professional relationship. Shaw starts an affair with her and accepts the business offer. However, an accidental discovery leaves him convinced that the Hillmans' interest lies less in the long-term profits of the venture than in the $175,000 key man insurance policy he took on himself as a precondition for the deal, and that an attempt on his life is imminent.

Madge, the younger sister of Doris, develops a romantic interest in Shaw as well. Without knowing what Doris has planned, she reveals to Shaw that her sister was married previously to a man who died in Wyoming when his car crashed over a bridge. Shaw ends up drugged by Gus Hillman and barely keeps his car from going off a cliff.

The police are skeptical about his story and the insurance company refuses to cancel the policy, Hillman having portrayed Shaw as a man who is trying to steal his wife. Madge teams with Shaw to try to foil her sister's scheme, but Doris lures him to a mountain cabin and shoots him with a gun. A wounded Shaw sees both Hillmans struggle then fall to their deaths through a clifftop doorway, just minutes before Madge and the cops arrive.


  • Angela Lansbury as Doris Hillman
  • Keith Andes as Edward Shaw
  • Douglass Dumbrille as Gus Hillman
  • Claudia Barrett as Madge Neilan
  • Jane Darwell as Landlady
  • Gavin Gordon as Sam Pearson
  • Charles Maxwell as Lt. Hoff
  • William Henry as Myles Norman
  • Kathleen Mulqueen as Mary
  • Dan Sturkie as Officer Biff
  • Jeane Wood as Mabel, the maid
  • Robert Haver as Mechanic
  • Soundtrack

  • "Summer Interlude" (By Hank McCune and Les Baxter)
  • References

    A Life at Stake Wikipedia
    A Life at Stake IMDb A Life at Stake

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