LanguageSilent (English intertitles) Release dateAugust 30, 1920 (1920-08-30) WriterBaroness de Meyer (screenplay), Baroness de Meyer (story), Erich von Stroheim (screenplay), Erich von Stroheim (story) CinematographyWilliam H. Daniels, Ben F. Reynolds CastMae Busch, Maude George, Sam De Grasse, Leo White, Alice Terry Similar moviesRelated Erich von Stroheim movies
The Devil's Pass Key (or The Devil's Passkey) was a 1920 silent drama film directed by Erich von Stroheim.
The film was produced by Universal Pictures and distributed under their Jewel banner. The film was von Stroheim's second directorial effort, and considered one of the best screen exhibitions of August 1920, with The New York Times later calling it "One of the best photodramatic productions of the year". The production was shot from September 1919 through December 1919 and premiered on 8 August 1920 at the Capitol Theatre in New York City, New York.
As described in a film magazine, Grace Goodright (Trevelyn) is the beautiful but extravagant wife of Warren Goodright (de Grasse), an American playwright living in Paris. Grace is living beyond her means and owes her modeste Renee Malot (George) money. Malot suggests that Grace contact a wealthy American, army officer Captain Rex Strong (Clyde Fillmore), who might be able to assist her financially. Rex offers Grace a loan, but only if as "security" for the loan she grants him sexual favors. Grace refuses, and Malot, angered at losing an opportunity for obtaining a commission for the loan, attempts to trap Grace in a blackmail scheme. The newspapers print the spicy bit of scandal without mentioning any names. Warren uses the story as the plot for his next play and it meets success. Paris is thrown into a furor over the affair and Warren threatens the life of Captain Strong. After the later convinces Warren that his wife is innocent, the matter is resolved happily.
Sam de Grasse as Warren Goodright
Mae Busch as La Belle Odera
Maude George as Renee Malot
Leo White as Amadeus Malot
Jack Mathis as Count De Trouvere
Al Edmundson as Alphonse Marior
Una Trevelyn as Grace Goodright
Clyde Fillmore as Captain Rex Strong
Ruth King as Yvonne Strong
Edward Reinach as Director of Theatre Français
In 1941, it was discovered that the original nitrate negative had decomposed in the Universal film vaults, and the film is today famous as a lost film. A story in The Hollywood Reporter, international edition, dated 12 November 1993, stated that this film would be shown at the 1994 Berlin Film Festival — a film previously thought to be lost. As of July 2015, the validity of this has not yet been proven. Because this film has been lost for so long, historians often omit it when discussing or writing about the canon of von Stroheim's film work.