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King of the Underworld (1939)

Passed  -  Crime | Drama | Romance  -  14 January 1939 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 632 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 4 critic

After the killing of her husband by friendly fire during a police raid, Dr. Carol Nelson tries to find gangster Joe Gurney to clear her name with the medical board.

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(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Carol Nelson
James Stephenson ...
Bill Stevens
John Eldredge ...
Niles Nelson
Jessie Busley ...
Aunt Josephine
Arthur Aylesworth ...
Dr. Sanders
Raymond Brown ...
Sheriff
Harland Tucker ...
Mr. Ames
Ralph Remley ...
Mr. Robert
Charley Foy ...
Slick
Murray Alper ...
Eddie
Joe Devlin ...
Porky
Elliott Sullivan ...
Mugsy
Alan Davis ...
Pete
John Harmon ...
Slats
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Storyline

Niles and Carol Nelson are married doctors who save one of gang lord Gurney's men. Gurney exploits them, then kills Niles leaving Carol to take the fall. He next kidnaps writer Bill Stephens to write his biography. Knowing Bill will be killed when the biography is finished, Carol takes matters into her own hands. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

EXCITEMENT...WITH THE SILENCERS OFF! (re-release print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 January 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Unlawful  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Several actors in studio records for the movie "King of the Underworld (1939)" were not seen in the film; these include, with their character names if any, Peggy Moran (Young Man's Wife), Davison Clark (Foreman), Jerry Fletcher (Young Man), Francis Sayles (Furniture Store Proprietor), Vera Lewis and Frank Orth. See more »

Goofs

The night scenes of the raid on the Gurney hideout are mismatched. It goes from day-for-night to what appears to be genuine darkness. See more »

Quotes

Eddie: [after being told by Gurney to come back with a typewriter] Hey, boss, where am I gonna pick up a typewriter at this time of the night? The stores are all closed!
Joe Gurney: Well, open one!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Great Performances: Bacall on Bogart (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Jezebel
(1938) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played when Joe receives the telephone call before the operation
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Kay Francis as a doctor comes up against gangster Bogie
26 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In an effort to elevate Humphrey Bogart's star and get rid of Kay Francis, Warners remade Dr. Socrates, giving the good doctor a sex change and making him Kay Francis instead. However, Bogart gets top billing and Francis' role was reduced. It didn't work; Francis kept plodding along until the end of her contract. Also, I still felt she came across as the star in this.

Francis plays a doctor whose husband starts picking up easy money repairing the wounds of gangsters and not reporting on their illegal activities. Eventually, he is killed in a raid, and the police are convinced that Francis was in on it with her husband. Unless she can prove her innocence, she's going to lose her medical license. When she gets a lead on the gang's whereabouts, she sets up shop in the same town.

It's really hard to believe this movie came out in 1939 - it has the look and feel of something done about five years earlier. Bogart is good as a cocky and violent criminal who trusts no one and is too fast with a gun. Stardom is just ahead for the actor, as well as lots less of films like this.

Francis was past the magic age of 30 by this time, and her big star, big film days were behind her. She would soon fall to second leads and eventually move over to Monogram for several films, and, after a couple of early TV appearances, would retire. Everything about Francis embodies the strong '30s career woman, and it's hard to picture her out of the era. She does a great job in this as a determined, classy woman who has to use her wits to get out of a bad situation. An eminently watchable actress.

Worth seeing for Francis and Bogart just before his great career takes off.


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