Life at Stake


You can find more information regarding this film on its IMDb page.

A Life at Stake is a 1954 American film noir directed by Paul Guilfoyle (actor born in 1902). It stars Angela Lansbury and Keith Andes.
The film is also known as Key Man.

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 person 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 uses 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 (actor) as Sam Pearson
  • Charles Maxwell as Lt. Hoff
  • William Henry (actor) as Myles Norman
  • Kathleen Mulqueen as Mary
  • Dan Sturkie as Officer Biff
  • Jeane Wood as Mabel, the maid
  • Robert Haver as Mechanic


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

  • Category:1954 films
    Category:1950s drama films
    Category:American films
    Category:American drama films
    Category:English-language films
    Category:Black-and-white films


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