6.5/10
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21 user 8 critic

King of the Underworld (1939)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 14 January 1939 (USA)
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:

Drop That Gun, Killer! 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

Humphrey Bogart got star billing for the first time in his career, even though co-star Kay Francis made nine times more money than he did. This was a deliberate snub by Warner Brothers, who had to pay Kay Francis $200,000 a year, even when her movies began to lose money. 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

Bill Stevens: What do you want with me, Joe?
Joe Gurney: Well, I tell yuh, me and the boys are takin' a bit of a layoff while the pressure's on, and I got thinkin' about that book you wrote, you know, on Napoleon. Figured that him and me bein' so much alike, you'd like to do a little job for me.
Bill Stevens: What kind of job?
Joe Gurney: Well, every big man, you know, oughta have somebody to write his auto... uh, auto...
[unsure of the word]
Bill Stevens: Autobiography?
Joe Gurney: Yeah, that's it.
Bill Stevens: An autobiography is the story of a man's life written by himself.
Joe Gurney: Well, I...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Hollywood and the Stars: The Man Called Bogart (1963) 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

Fair Remake
7 January 2010 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

King of the Underworld (1939)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Warner remake of their 1935 Paul Muni flick DR. SOCRATES has Kay Francis playing a doctor trying to clear her name after her husband got connected to a gangster (Humphrey Bogart). I watched this film for the first time many years ago and found it to be campy fun but this was my first viewing since seeing the original 1935. My opinion on this film here has certainly changed but in the end I think this is still worth seeing if you're a fan of Bogart. That original film was an incredibly smart and tense little gem that should be better known to film fans but this remake, clearly meant to be the second film on a double-feature, leaves out the brains and instead goes with action. The movie runs a fast-paced 67-minutes and for the most part we get to see Bogart chew up one scene after another and this here is clearly fun if you're a fan of his. He's constantly shouting at his men, giving orders or just going around like a madman and we even get to hear him quote a few things from Napoleon. Bogart's maniac-style performance is clearly the stand out here and the reason people should tune in. Francis seems to be rather upset at having to appear in something like this as she pretty much sleepwalks through here role and she certainly brings the film down some. She was certainly a capable actress but you really can't tell that by watching her here. James Stephenson adds nice support in his small role. The ending to the original film worked wonderfully well because they went for suspense but that's not the case here. The ending is pretty wacky and over the top and sure to draw a few laughs. It does lead up to some violent gun play, which is never a bad thing in a Warner movie.


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