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Underground (1928)

 |  Drama  |  July 1928 (UK)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 190 users  
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A working-class love story set in and around the London Underground of the 1920s. Two men - gentle Bill and brash Bert - meet and are attracted to the same woman on the same day at the same... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Bill
...
Nell
Cyril McLaglen ...
Bert, Power station worker
Norah Baring ...
Kate, Seamstress
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Storyline

A working-class love story set in and around the London Underground of the 1920s. Two men - gentle Bill and brash Bert - meet and are attracted to the same woman on the same day at the same Underground station. But the lady chooses Bill, and Bert isn't the type to take rejection lightly... Written by Igenlode Wordsmith

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train | subway | See All (2) »

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Drama

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July 1928 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Der Schrei aus dem Tunnel  »

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
UNDERGROUND is an excellent genre-crossing silent picture, stylishly in the vanguard and entertaining as well
30 March 2015 | by (Cairo, Egypt) – See all my reviews

A silent film of British director Anthony Asquith, recently has been restored by BFI, it is his second feature made at the age of 26, and he would later bring us many important play- adaptation classics like PYGMALION (1938), THE BROWNING VERSION (1951) and THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (1952), although UNDERGROUND is a creation out of his own wit, this incipient piece cogently concretises his astonishing cinematic aesthetics, particularly Stanley Rodwell's majestically composed cinematography and the slick final action stunts.

UNDERGROUND is about a working-class love story in the metropolitan London, Nell (Landi) is a shopgirl and Bert (McLaglen) is a power station worker, they both take the newly-inaugurated London metro to work and get off at the same station, where Bill (Aherne) works as an escalator operator (an obsolete job to the eyes of later generations), then the story evolves into a two-suitors-one-girl situation, although Bert is a well-groomed lady-killer, Nell chooses Bill eventually, the handsome and gentlemanly chap, their love story burgeons from a lost glove, here Asquith showcases his innovate camera movements of the two walking in the opposite directions in two reversely moving escalators, the comic timing is purely golden, which has already been effectively justified from its beguiling opening vignettes with a potpourri of interactions between passengers, including Bert and Nell. But Bert is far from a well-bred loser, he is brash, revengeful and manipulative, he coaxes Kate (Baring), a seamstress lives in the same lodge and his former lover whom he has gotten tired of, to set up a scene in public and defame Bill's reputation. On condition that he will treat her well, Kate complies and Bill is going to lose his job, hence undermines the marriage. But, Nell is no wide-eyed flapper, she doesn't give up easily, instead, by a sheer coincidence, she noses out the lead back to Burt and finds Kate, lays bare the truth. In the third act, an impending tragedy ensues and a white-knuckle chasing set piece brings Bill and Burt into an elevator in the underground station, and the good heroically defeats the evil.

The most significant feature of the film is its sterling utilisation of silhouettes and shades, glistening under the finely-restored monochromic texture and its futuristic layout of (almost) every and each shots, all promisingly denotes what a young talent Asquith is, and I must move his other works onto the top-tier of my watch-list now!

The four main cast thrive in their expressive performances, our heroine Elissa Landi is so unbridled in her facial expressions, the transition from kindness to sheer sneer can be impeccably accomplished in a jiffy, as a young woman inculcated by independence, she also functions as the antithetical specimen to the old-world Kate, a woman blinded and entrapped by her own fantasy of a man who only uses her as a disposable pawn. However a feline-like Norah Baring triumphantly brings out the ascending pathos in her lingering comportment which will lead to her fatal destruction. Aherne is squarely handsome, a leading man material indeed and McLaglen competently brandishes with his sinister edge whenever the plot requires.

In short, UNDERGROUND is an excellent genre-crossing silent picture, stylishly in the vanguard and entertaining as well, another bonus is the symphonic accompany score from Neil Brand, from lilting to gripping, hones up the atmosphere up to the hilt. It certainly deserves a wider audience in addition to the usual coterie who is fond of silent goodies.


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