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

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Underworld -- This tale of a gangster fighting to stay on top in the Chicago underworld is a goundbreaking film that set the style of gangster movies for years to come.

Overview

User Rating:
7.7/10   1,541 votes »
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Popularity: ?
Up 2% 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:
Wonderful Surprise See more (23 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:
Alfred Allen ... Judge (uncredited)
Shep Houghton ... Street Kid (uncredited)
Andy MacLennan ... One of Laughing Faces at the Ball (uncredited)
Ida May ... Laughing Woman at the Ball (uncredited)
Karl Morse ... 'High Collar' Sam (uncredited)
Julian Rivero ... One of Buck's Henchmen (uncredited)

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


Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Paying the Penalty" - Ireland (English title) (imdb display title), UK
See more »
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:
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 »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Scarface (1932)See more »

FAQ

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
Wonderful Surprise, 2 May 2012
Author: Prof_Lostiswitz from Cyberia

I had read elsewhere that Underworld was the first film noir, but I didn't have high expectations before I saw the Criterion release. The action flows quickly and compellingly, while the noir scenes are beautifully done. A lot of it resembles Metropolis - the dance-hall scenes, the factory whistle, etc.

A lot of what I thought was original in Scarface (1932) is anticipated here - Ben Hecht wrote both of them. The love triangle, the flower shop, the apocalyptic shoot-out are much the same. Hecht complained about the (few) sentimental bits in Underworld, obviously Scarface was his come- back to Sternberg - but he owes a big debt to Sternberg for inventing so much new visual language.

Film noir seems to have developed gradually out of the chiaroscuro used by painters, as and when cameras became capable of it. The last third of Pandora's Box is noir, as is much of The Wind and most of The Lodger. The Lodger is probably the first all noir, but it is inferior to Underworld - Hitchcock was undermined by matinée-idol Ivor Novello's demand for a safe and innovative ending.

Definitely a must-see - too many people overlook silent cinema.

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