6.5/10
882
21 user 7 critic

King of the Underworld (1939)

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.

Director:

Lewis Seiler

Writers:

George Bricker (screen play), Vincent Sherman (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

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

Ruthless Killer vs. Lady Doctor ! It's red-blooded action all the way ! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 January 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Unlawful See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was shot in just two weeks during the summer of 1938. 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

Aunt Josephine: You're putting your head right in the lion's mouth.
Dr. Carole Nelson: That's what I've got to do.
See more »

Connections

Version of Bullet Scars (1942) See more »

Soundtracks

I Wanna Go Back to Bali
(1938) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played when Joe receives the telephone call after the operation
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Early Bogart. Fine Results.
6 April 2004 | by AdemWeldonSee all my reviews

The hurried approach that Lewis Seiler takes with King of the Underworld establishes a deeper plot, while still maintaining an efficient run-time. One of the clearest examples of this is the transition between poverty and wealth for the married medical couple. The audience is instantly transported from a shanty medical office to a luxurious suite at the city's most prestigious inn. This development is critical to understanding the position the doctors have been thrown into. The story suggests from the intro that these two people are generally happy with providing medical practice to those who are less fortunate. By abruptly cutting from this scenario to the morally conflicting occupation (the mob's personal physician), the viewer is called upon to experience this sudden turn of events. The Nelsons (Kay Francis and John Eldredge) are forcibly employed by Gurney (Bogart) without objections. This stylized notion of organized crime being too influential and powerful to overcome has become a standard component in every gangster picture. The one aspect of this film that raised some questions for me, ironically dealt with the pacing of the story, and that rate at which it was told. I think that character development and social identity can suffer when certain aspects of a story are not fully examined. This paradox happens to be a result of personal taste, in that I think that the movie going experience can be enhanced through rigorous character development. However, for the purposes of this film, I must admit that the rapid action contributes more dynamic flare to the impact of the film.

**1/2 (of ****)


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