IMDb > Underworld (1927)
Underworld
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Underworld (1927) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.8/10   1,230 votes »
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Up 13% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers:
Charles Furthman (adaptation)
Ben Hecht (story)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Underworld on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
20 August 1927 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
Boisterous gangster kingpin Bull Weed rehabilitates his former lawyer from his alcoholic haze, but complications arise when he falls for Weed's girlfriend. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Won Oscar. See more »
User Reviews:
Vividly made, early pre-gangster gangster film. See more (21 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)
George Bancroft ... 'Bull' Weed

Evelyn Brent ... 'Feathers' McCoy

Clive Brook ... Rolls Royce Wensel
Fred Kohler ... 'Buck' Mulligan
Helen Lynch ... Meg, Mulligan's Girl
Larry Semon ... 'Slippy' Lewis
Jerry Mandy ... Paloma
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ida May
Alfred Allen ... Judge (uncredited)
Shep Houghton ... Street Kid (uncredited)
Andy MacLennan ... One of Laughing Faces at the Ball (uncredited)
Karl Morse ... 'High Collar' Sam (uncredited)
Julian Rivero ... One of Buck's Henchmen (uncredited)
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Directed by
Josef von Sternberg 
Arthur Rosson (uncredited) (fired, replaced by J. Von Sternberg)
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Charles Furthman  adaptation (as Charles Furthmann)
Howard Hawks  scenario (uncredited)
Ben Hecht  story
Robert N. Lee  adaptation
George Marion Jr.  titles
Josef von Sternberg  uncredited

Produced by
B.P. Schulberg .... associate producer
Hector Turnbull .... supervising producer
 
Original Music by
Robert Israel (2010 Composer New Score)
 
Cinematography by
Bert Glennon 
 
Film Editing by
E. Lloyd Sheldon 
 
Costume Design by
Travis Banton 
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Henry Hathaway .... second unit director (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Hans Dreier .... set designer (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
William H. Clothier .... assistant camera
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Edith Head .... assistant costume designer (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Jesse L. Lasky .... presenter
Adolph Zukor .... presenter
 
Crew believed to be complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
80 min | Portugal:87 min (director's cut)
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Argentina:13 | Finland:K-8 (1992) | Finland:(Banned) (1929) | Portugal:17 (director's cut) | UK:R (original rating) | UK:A (re-rating) (cut) | USA:Not Rated

Did You Know?

Trivia:
"Underworld" was submitted to the British Board of Film Censors three times: - The first submission, under the original title, was rejected because of the sympathetic portrayal of a criminal. - The second submission, under the title "The Penalty" and with cuts, was rejected. - The third submission, under the title "Paying the Penalty" to give the movie a more moral stance, and with additional cuts, was passed with an "A" certificate.See more »
Quotes:
'Feathers' McCoy:[to Rolls Royce] How long since you had the body washed and polishd?See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Scarface (1932)See more »

FAQ

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
Vividly made, early pre-gangster gangster film., 25 August 2010
Author: secondtake from United States

Underworld (1927)

A lot of people avoid silent films at all costs, and I understand that totally. Many of these films are stiff, and the plots are either sentimental or obvious.

But there are many reasons to watch a good, or great, silent film. Sometimes the acting, whatever its expressive style, is really wonderful. Often the photography and editing is really terrific and sophisticated. And the stories can be fast, fresh, and even pertinent.

And finally, the silent films easiest for the uninitiated to approach are at the very end of the silent era. That would be 1927. See Joan Crawford in The Unknown for the bizarre, or Murnau's Sunrise for eloquence, or consider this film, the first major film by the soon to be legendary Josef von Sternberg. The only thing that might put off some people is the exaggerated expressions in one of the three main characters, Bull Weed. But go with that flow and you'll see not only some more subtle acting, but a sweet, violent, complex plot interweave in just an hour or so (81 minutes, though there is an 87 minute version out there if you can find it, Netflix doesn't have it). The Criterion disc version is really clean (another reason to consider this as an intro silent films, since it isn't broken up or scratched to death).

"Underworld" is filmed with visual complexity even though it lacks some of the virtuosic moving camera of Murnau. The sets are simple but convincing, and the shift in attention to the gangster side of the story, complete with guns and molls and the precursors (or pre-precursors) of film noir, is gripping. It's not as intense as the heyday of gangster films just four or five years later, but it has if anything more emotional sophistication. The story was written by the legendary Ben Hecht, which might explain some of its success.

Von Sternberg you say? Well, he was a master at creating aura, and between him and Dietrich a whole new level of starmaking savvy was born. This, as a first film, and as a last minute replacement, was expected to flop, and was released in a single New York theater. Word spread, however, and it became a hit. You can see why. Great stuff.

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