Underworld (1927) - News Poster



Rushes. Wes Anderson, Chicago's Crime Culture, Nicole Kidman, Walter Hill

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Get in touch to send in cinephile news and discoveriesNEWSRadley Metzger's The Lickerish QuartetRadley Metzger, whose groundbreaking erotic films helped set standards of style for both mainstream and arthouse cinema, has died at 88. His classics Camille 2000 (1969) and The Lickerish Quartet (1970) were featured on Mubi last year. Critic and programmer Steve Macfarlane interviewed the director at Slant Magazine for the Film Society of Lincoln Center's 2014 retrospective devoted to Metzger.Recommended VIEWINGThe Cinémathèque française has been on a roll uploading video discussions that have taken place at their Paris cinema. This 34 minute talk is between Wes Anderson and director/producer Barbet Schroeder.The Criterion Collection has recently released a new edition of Michelangelo Antonioni's masterpiece Blow-Up, and has uploaded this stellar clip of actor David Hemmings speaking on a talk show about making the film.Recommended READINGHoward Hawks' ScarfaceHow does Chicago intertwine itself with crime and the culture created in the mix of the two?
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Scott Reviews Josef von Sternberg’s The Last Command [Masters of Cinema Blu-ray]

Utilizing a tremendous premise in the most laborious way possible, Josef von Sternberg’s The Last Command has to rank among his least dynamic and interesting films. Taking inspiration from an actual Russian general who fled the motherland and was forced to work as a day-player extra in early Hollywood, the 1928 film only treats its present-day setting as a framing device to house a too-familiar tale. Sergius Alexander (Emil Jannings), grand duke and army commander, had a special fervor for quashing revolutionary movements, but, as he’s living on the brink of the Russian Revolution, this task is sure to overwhelm him. Stretching this exposition across an hour of screentime, even someone of Sternberg’s genius cannot find purchase in anything of interest. There’s nothing distinctive about Sergius’s fall from glory, nor the manner in which he wields his power. Nothing in this section is a fraction as
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Edge of Doom

Remember Charlie Chaplin's 'The Killer with a Heart?' You too will be frustrated by this well-produced story of a slum kid who commits an unpardonable crime... except that a do-gooder priest wants to pardon him. Dana Andrews and Farley Granger star but the good work is in the smaller roles of this urban tragedy. Edge of Doom DVD-r The Warner Archive Collection 1950 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 97 min. / Street Date February 9, 2016 / available through the WBshop / 18.59 Starring Dana Andrews, Farley Granger, Joan Evans, Robert Keith, Paul Stewart, Mala Powers, Adele Jergens, Harold Vermilyea, John Ridgely, Douglas Fowley, Mabel Paige, Howland Chamberlain, Houseley Stevenson Sr., Jean Inness, Ellen Corby, Ray Teal. Cinematography Harry Stradling Film Editor Daniel Mandell Original Music Hugo Friedhofer Written by Philip Yordan Produced by Samuel Goldwyn Directed by Mark Robson

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

What's the most hopeless, depressing, feel-bad film noir on the charts? How about Detour,
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Daily | Goings On | Denis, Pialat, Harrington

"What's most remarkable about Chocolat (1988), Claire Denis's first feature, is the degree to which her superb command of the sensuous is already apparent," writes Melissa Anderson in the Voice. More goings on rounded up today: Retrospectives of work by Curtis Harrington, Maurice Pialat, Lynne Sachs, Stephen Quay and Timothy Quay, an exhibition built around Matthew Barney's epic River of Fundament, "Scintillating 16mm" in San Francisco and capsule reviews of Josef von Sternberg's Underworld, Alexander Mackendrick's The Sweet Smell of Success, Vittorio De Sica's Umberto D. and Mary Lambert's Pet Sematary. » - David Hudson
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Daily | Goings On | Denis, Pialat, Harrington

"What's most remarkable about Chocolat (1988), Claire Denis's first feature, is the degree to which her superb command of the sensuous is already apparent," writes Melissa Anderson in the Voice. More goings on rounded up today: Retrospectives of work by Curtis Harrington, Maurice Pialat, Lynne Sachs, Stephen Quay and Timothy Quay, an exhibition built around Matthew Barney's epic River of Fundament, "Scintillating 16mm" in San Francisco and capsule reviews of Josef von Sternberg's Underworld, Alexander Mackendrick's The Sweet Smell of Success, Vittorio De Sica's Umberto D. and Mary Lambert's Pet Sematary. » - David Hudson
See full article at Fandor: Keyframe »

Underground Film History 1948: Ministers Accept Roles In ‘Underground’ Film

From The Salt Lake Tribune, April 7, 1948. Article text Excerpt:

Chaplain Pens Movie

Ministers Accept Roles In ‘Underground’ Film

By Hedda Hopper

Hollywood – Twelve ministers will play themselves in Eagle-Lion’s “Twelve Against the Underworld,” which is based on a story by Dr. Norman Nygaard, a World War I veteran and civilian chaplain in the last war. When he returned to his home in Steubenville, O., in 1945, Nygaard found it overridden with the underworld, so he and 11 other ministers organized to rid the town of gangsters and grafting politicians. Aubrey Schenck will produce and Director Anthony Mann and Cameraman John Alton, who worked together on “T-Man” will be reteamed. The picture will be made entirely on location. It might set an example for other towns throughout America.

Underground Film Journal notes: The film critic Manny Farber is typically credited with inventing the term “underground film” in 1957 for an article in the
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Denver's 2nd Silent Film Festival Celebrates Early Cinema

It’s official: The Denver Silent Film Festival is now an annual event! An opening gala—at the Seawell Ballroom on September 21st—heralds the start of its second year. This time last year, I was lucky enough to be in Colorado for its launching: three days of screenings (personal favorite: Josef von Sternberg’s 1927 gangster drama Underworld), with musical accompaniment (by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, Hank Troy and Donald Sosin) and lively conversation. Alexander Payne took time out from his Descendants commitments to participate in presenting his mentor, David Shepard, with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Payne’s speech, about being a young...

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See full article at Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy »

Michel Hazanavicius: Favorite Silent Movies

Bérénice Bejo, Michel Hazanavicius Michel Hazanavicius, Bérénice Bejo Photo; Hazanavicius' Oscar 2012 Q&A Pt.1 Q. [Speaks in French ] Hollywood, next step Hollywood. A. It's not next step. I mean, this movie brings me some opportunities to meet people and some of them propose me send scripts, or told me that they wanted to work with me. And if there's a chance to make a good movie I will do it … with honor and great pleasure because people know how to make movies here. So, there's some beautiful actors, beautiful scriptwriters and, yes, I hope I will make a movie here once. It won't be the next one. And also, I have a wonderful producer who is French and I want to work with him again. And when you have that kind of producer you don't drop him off. You stay — you stuck to him. You stick to him. That's better I think. Q.
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Five silent films to shout about

Intrigued by The Artist but don't know where to start exploring the silent film archives? Try these five classics, which lead to plenty more…

It doesn't take long for a novelty to be hailed as a trend. Internet film rental service Lovefilm reports that the buzz around The Artist has sparked a boom in curiosity about early cinema, with a 40% rise in the number of people streaming silent films on its site in the week leading up to the Oscars.

The top 10 most-streamed silents include a clutch of Buster Keaton's ingenious comedies, some heady Hollywood melodrama (A Fool There Was, starring Theda Bara, and The Son of the Sheikh, with Rudolph Valentino) and creepy Swedish horror The Phantom Carriage. There are only two films on the list that seem to bear any relation to Michel Hazanavicius's surprise hit: Frank Borzage's mournful romance Seventh Heaven (which inspired the
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Review: Rebecca [Blu-ray]

Rebecca [Blu-ray] Movie: Disc: Click here to read the dvd review! "Written by the legendary script doctor Ben Hecht – winner of the first ever writing Oscar for Underworld in 1927 - Notorious is as lean and spare as a haiku. Through just a few laser focused scenes, Hecht and Hitchcock establish their characters’ histories, tendencies and motivations without a single wasted word or gesture. "
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

TCM Celebrates The Artist With List Of 10 Most Influential Silent Films

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has unveiled its list of 10 Most Influential Silent Films in celebration of Michel Hazanavicius’ ode to the silent era, The Artist, which won three Golden Globes® Sunday night, including Best Picture . Musical or Comedy, Best Actor . Musical or Comedy for Jean Dujardin and Best Original Score. The Artist also picked up 12 British Academy Film Award nominations. The Weinstein Company will expand its release of The Artist nationwide on Friday.

TCM’s list of 10 Most Influential Silent Films spans from the years 1915 to 1928 and features such remarkable films as D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking (and controversial) The Birth of a Nation (1915), which revolutionized filmmaking techniques; Nanook of the North (1922), a film frequently cited as the first feature-length documentary; Cecil B. DeMille’s epic silent version of The Ten Commandments (1923); Sergei Eisenstein’s oft-imitated Battleship Potemkin (1925), which took montage techniques to an entirely new level; and Fritz Lang’s
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The Iron Horse, The Kid, Underworld: Shasta County Silent Film Festival

Josef von Sternberg, Charles Chaplin, John Ford: Shasta County Silent Film Festival Friday, October 21 6:00 p.m. Angora Love (1929, Laurel & Hardy). Stanley and Oliver are adopted by a runaway goat, whose noise and aroma in turn get the goat of their suspicious landlord. Attempts to bathe the smelly animal result in a waterlogged free-for-all. Pass the Gravy (1928, Max Davidson). Max Davidson plays a widower father who enjoys raising prize flowers. His neighbor, another widower father, raises prize poultry. The two families spat because the chickens are eating Max's flower seeds. In a Romeo and Juliet-like twist, the men's children decide to marry each other, and the fathers decide to hold a celebratory dinner to show no hard feelings. However, the roast chicken on the table looks very suspicious. It's a Gift (1923, Snub Pollard) Along with a Felix the Cat. A group of oil magnates are trying to think of new ways to attract business.
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Josef von Sternberg, Charles Chaplin, John Ford: Shasta County Silent Film Festival

The 6th Annual Silent Film Festival at Shasta County, Calif., to be held October 21-22 at the Shasta County Arts Council's Performance Hall, will feature an eclectic group of silent-movie classics. Those range from Josef von Sternberg's crime drama Underworld (1927) to Carl Theodor Dreyer's marital drama Master of the House (1925). [Full schedule of the Shasta County Silent Film Fest.] Also: Rin Tin Tin in Clash of the Wolves, featuring Charles Farrell (who would later team up with Janet Gaynor to become one of the most popular screen couples of the late silent era/early talkie era); John Ford's ambitious Western The Iron Horse (1924), starring George O'Brien and Madge Bellamy; and the Douglas Fairbanks romantic comedy When the Clouds Roll By (1919), directed by Victor Fleming of Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz fame. Attending the festival will be silent-film restorationist and historian David Shepard and Bay Area Royal Jazz Society's Frederick Hodges. Check out
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Josef von Sternberg’s pre-code gangster picture ‘Underworld’


Directed by Josef von Sternberg

United States, 1927

Josef von Sternberg’s pre-code gangster picture – the one that started it all – plays akin to the director’s vision throughout his career: hazy deep focus shots, sensuality that anticipates his collaborations with Marlene Dietrich, tough guy theatrics, and an eye for poetic framing. Though its more name-famous companion piece, Howard HawksScarface, was produced five years later and during the Production Code, von Sternberg’s film is surprisingly less violent than Hawks’.

Underworld finds von Sternberg staple George Bancroft in the role of “Bull” Weed – gangster extraordinaire. When Bull happens upon a learned alcoholic itinerant after one of his infamous heists he takes the man under his wing, cleans him up, and nicknames him Rolls Royce (Clive Brook). Rolls Royce’s suave, quiet manner immediately endears him to “Feathers” McCoy (Evelyn Brent), Bull’s girlfriend. While a precarious love triangle develops,
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The Forgotten: Naughty Nineties

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"He's a chin." Such was Josef von Sternberg's summation of Clive Brook, delivered when Marlene Dietrich asked what her leading man in Shanghai Express(1932) was like. Since Brook had already given a sympathetic and subtle performance for Sternberg in Underworld (1927), and since he was one of the few actors who actually liked Sternberg, this remark should perhaps be taken less as an insult, and more as a statement of intent: in Shanghai Express, Sternberg reduces his chum to a chin, rigid and inexpressive.

The real Brook was different, as his sole film as director attests. On Approval (1944) climaxed Brook's acting career (he returned to the screen in 1963 for John Huston, in The List of Adrian Messenger: the rest is silence) and serves as a definitive rebuttal to Sternberg's put-down, as it's a gay, wildly creative, consistently funny comedy. Being based on a play that was then fifty years
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Evelyn Brent: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s Lady Crook

Evelyn Brent is one of those actresses deserving greater recognition. To say she is “neglected” would not quite be true – but not quite inaccurate either.Brent had an interesting career, and in the 1920s and 1930s appeared in a number of notable films. She worked alongside other actors still well remembered today (Emil Jannings, William Powell, George Bancroft), as well as under the direction of some of the leading filmmakers of her time (Tod Browning, Frank Tuttle). Just recently, two silent film masterpieces starring Brent and directed by Josef von Sternberg, Underworld...
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CriterionCast – Episode 050.5 – Disc 2 – On The Screen And Discussion On The Importance Of Film Restoration And Preservation

Disc 2 episodes are bonus/supplement episodes of The CriterionCast. Rudie Obias, Ryan Gallagher, & James McCormick ramble on and on about movies and movie experiences. “On The Screen” is where they discuss anything and everything that has been on their screens in the week. So anything from TV & movies to music & web junk, everything “On The Screen” is up for grabs. This is what they recommend to you, their listeners.

What do you think of their show? Please send them your feed back: CriterionCast@gmail.com or call their voicemail line @ 347.878.3430 or follow them on twitter @CriterionCast or Comment on their blog, http://CriterionCast.com.

Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe to their podcast and please leave your reviews in their iTunes feed.

They broadcast every episode Live on UStream every Friday @ 8pm Est/5pm Pst. Join in on the conversation @ CriterionCast.com/Live

Our next episode they
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The Criterion Column: Celebrate the Holidays with Videodrome and Cronos

Criterion's December release announcement is brief, but sweet. David Cronenberg's Videodrome is coming to Blu-Ray while Guillermo Del Toro's Cronos will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray. 


The Videodrome Blu-Ray seems to be sourced from same master as the 2004 Criterion DVD.  Extras are largely same. Cronos is newly restored and packed with extras, including a previously unreleased short film called Geometria. Check the links in the calendar for full specifications.

Finally, as mentioned in the last Criterion Column, the DVD release of the America Lost and Found: The Bbs Story comes out on December 14th. The Blu-Ray will be released on November 23rd.


The Criterion Collection 2010 Release Calendar (January through December 2010, up-to-date as of September 16, 2010)


December 2010


David CronenbergVideodrome, Bd, 12/7/2010, Us & Canada

Guillermo del ToroCronos, 2-disc DVD & Bd, 12/7/2010, Us & Canada


November 2010


Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times, 2-dsc DVD & Bd, 11/16/10, Us & Canada

Charles Laughton, Night Of The Hunter, 2-disc DVD & 2-disc Bd,
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3 Silent Classics By Joseph Von Sternberg Criterion DVD Review

The transition from silent films to the “talkies” was difficult for many in the motion picture industry. For many (particularly those in front of the camera), it would result in the death of their careers. Others (particularly directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford and Cecil B. DeMille) would go on to bigger and better things in the sound era (Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford, among them). Another such director was Josef von Sternberg, whose career began at the very end of the silent era, but whose brilliance was already apparent in the years leading up to the release of The Blue Angel. Now, thanks to The Criterion Collection’s 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg box set, some of his early silent films are available in restored glory. My review after the jump:

Although produced over the course of only two years, the three movies in the set—Underworld
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DVD Of The Week: Three Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg

by Brian Darr

The Criterion Collection lives up to its name, having in the past twelve years released over five hundred DVDs and box sets, generally with the best available image and sound quality, lovingly lavish packaging and supplemental features, a body of product containing a large proportion of the most noteworthy films in world cinema history. However, for every Jean-Luc Godard or Akira Kurosawa whose filmography has been well-served by Criterion's curatorial mission, there's a whole cinematic realm in which the company falls short. Films directed by women are few and far between, as are films from Asian nations other than Japan. Nothing at all has been released from South America or Africa, unless one counts Europeans' excursions there, such as Marcel Camus' Black Orpheus and Gillo Pontocorvo's The Battle of Algiers.

Surprisingly, the entire silent era, representing over three decades of moviemaking history, has yielded only a
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