7.7/10
1,921
26 user 36 critic

Underworld (1927)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 29 October 1927 (USA)
Boisterous gangster kingpin Bull Weed rehabilitates his former lawyer from his alcoholic haze, but complications arise when he falls for Weed's girlfriend.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(adaptation) (as Charles Furthmann), (story) | 2 more credits »
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A former Imperial Russian general and cousin of the Czar ends up in Hollywood as an extra in a movie directed by a former revolutionary.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Emil Jannings, Evelyn Brent, William Powell
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A blue-collar worker on New York's depressed waterfront finds his life changed after he saves a woman attempting suicide.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: George Bancroft, Betty Compson, Olga Baclanova
7th Heaven (1927)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A street cleaner saves a young woman's life, and the pair slowly fall in love until war intervenes.

Director: Frank Borzage
Stars: Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Ben Bard
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A peasant comes to St. Petersburg to find work. He unwittingly helps in the arrest of an old village friend who is now a labor leader. The unemployed peasant is also arrested and sent to ... See full summary »

Directors: Vsevolod Pudovkin, Mikhail Doller
Stars: Aleksandr Chistyakov, Vera Baranovskaya, Ivan Chuvelyov
Dishonored (1931)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The Austrian Secret Service sends its most seductive agent to spy on the Russians.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Victor McLaglen, Gustav von Seyffertitz
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In 1918 a simple Mongolian herdsman escapes to the hills after brawling with a western capitalist fur trader who cheats him. In 1920 he helps the partisans fight for the Soviets against the... See full summary »

Director: Vsevolod Pudovkin
Stars: I. Inkizhinov, I. Dedintsev, Valéry Inkijinoff
Street Angel (1928)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A woman on the run from the law finds her past catching up to her just as she is on the verge of true happiness.

Director: Frank Borzage
Stars: Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Natalie Kingston
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In the Crimea, the Reds and the Whites aren't done fighting, and Jeanne discovers that the man she loves is a Bolshevik (when he kills her father). Penniless, she returns to Paris where she... See full summary »

Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Stars: Édith Jéhanne, Uno Henning, Fritz Rasp
The Crowd (1928)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The life of a man and woman together in a large, impersonal metropolis through their hopes, struggles and downfalls.

Director: King Vidor
Stars: Eleanor Boardman, James Murray, Bert Roach
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A cloistered, overprotected Austrian prince falls in love with a down-to-earth barmaid in this "Viennese fairy tale."

Directors: Ernst Lubitsch, John M. Stahl
Stars: Ramon Novarro, Norma Shearer, Jean Hersholt
Lonesome (1928)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Two lonely people in the big city meet and enjoy the thrills of an amusement park, only to lose each other in the crowd after spending a great day together. Will they ever see each other again?

Director: Pál Fejös
Stars: Barbara Kent, Glenn Tryon, Fay Holderness
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A loose woman rediscovers a former lover during a dangerous train ride to Shanghai.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook, Anna May Wong
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
'Buck' Mulligan
...
Meg, Mulligan's Girl
...
'Slippy' Lewis
Jerry Mandy ...
Paloma
Edit

Storyline

'Nobody helps me -- I help them!' boasts open-handed gangster Bull Weed, handing over what will prove to be the best investment in his high-spending career: a thousand dollars that will put the literate 'Rolls Royce' of vagrants back on his feet. Living it up in the Twenties with the aid of cool but smouldering moll Feathers, the Bull lords it over the law and his rivals alike -- specifically big Buck Mulligan, whose floral-tributes business echoes that of a certain real-life Chicago gangster... Yet Feathers, prize possession and object of envy, proves his weak point; and in the end, Bull Weed will indeed come to need help from others, and more than he has ever needed it before. But can Rolls Royce and Feathers still give it to him? And will the Bull accept? Written by Igenlode Wordsmith

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 October 1927 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La ley del hampa  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was predicted to be a flop, was shelved by Paramount and eventually released in only one theater in New York. Screenwriter Ben Hecht demanded that his name was taken off the credits. As a result of strong word-of-mouth the movie became an enormous hit and won Hecht the first of his two Academy Awards. See more »

Quotes

'Feathers' McCoy: [to Rolls Royce] How long since you had the body washed and polishd?
See more »

Connections

Featured in The House That Shadows Built (1931) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A question of loyalty
22 July 2004 | by See all my reviews

In a way, I suppose this film simply managed to push all the right buttons so far as I was concerned. The basic theme of conflicting love and loyalty is one that has always called to my heart, and the central trio of characters happen to tap into stereotypes of instant appeal: gentle, honourable intellectual - sharp-witted and independent beauty - and brash, brave brute of a bully, as intemperate in his passions as in his lack of taste, and yet not wholly without merit.

But while the initial premise may benefit from join-the-dots attraction, it is the performances and execution of the film that give it its power. All three principals do an outstanding job. Clive Brooks, as the educated man brought low by drink and redeemed by the casual generosity of a gangster, makes use of every shading of expression in a sensitive face, conveying more with fewer words in one glance than anyone else in the cast. His scenes with 'Feathers' are a tour-de-force. Despite his reticence, it's easy to credit that he is not only the most intelligent but - with the ironic vulnerability of the civilised man amidst those who live by tooth and claw - the most idealistic character in the film. Having thrown his lot in with criminals, he does the best he can to keep faith; but his eyes betray everything he cannot say.

Evelyn Brent has perhaps the hardest task, that of raising the moll 'Feathers' into more than just an object of general desire and appendage to her man. From her very first scenes - where she publicly adjusts her garter beneath the thigh-skimming hem of her dress - she radiates allure. But she also comes across as more perceptive and quick than her consort, and far more collected and self-contained. It's not hard to understand her roving eye when she meets a man more intriguing than Bull Weed, the jovial vulgarian who maintains her in the lap of luxury; but it is to the credit of George Bancroft, as 'Bull Weed', that we also sympathies with her reluctance to leave her protector in the lurch when she has the chance.

My admiration for Bancroft's acting gradually increased throughout the film. At the beginning he comes across as little better than a ham, gesturing over-widely and falling into uproarious laughter that is a little too loud and a little too long. But as time progresses it becomes evident that it is not the actor but the gangster himself who is playing a larger-than-life role, and when Bull Weed's defences slip we start to see the limited, confused man behind the act. Striding drunkenly for revenge, he transcends his humanity to become a lurching, elemental force. In court he shrinks to an uncomprehending ox of a man, all swagger gone. And finally, in perhaps Bancroft's finest achievement of all, with no audience left to play to but the shadows, Bull Weed in his betrayal becomes merely human, sinking back into the pretension-free gutter from which he must once have climbed. His last scenes carry a conviction and depth of character on which the success of the film ultimately rests, and which would have been all but unthinkable at the start.

Besides all this, the film itself is quite simply beautiful; beautifully made, beautifully lit, beautifully shot. It's no wonder that it was a smash hit by word of mouth, nor that it still stands up today, where the use of cruder sentiment or melodrama might long since have reduced it to the status of mere historical curiosity.


20 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 26 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page