6.5/10
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21 user 7 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.

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

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
...
...
...
Raymond Brown ...
Sheriff
Harland Tucker ...
Mr. Ames
Ralph Remley ...
Mr. Robert
Charley Foy ...
...
...
Porky
Elliott Sullivan ...
Mugsy
Alan Davis ...
Pete
...
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:

Don't Kill This Killer! Bring Him Back Alive! 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:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Humphrey Bogart was given top billing, in part, in order to further humiliate Kay Francis, whose $200,000 annual salary and declining popularity had become a sore spot for Warner boss Jack L. Warner. Aware of the motives, Bogey was unhappy that he was being used as a pawn in order to humiliate Francis in front of the public that had once admired her. After years of struggling as a relatively-unknown actor in b-films, he considered achieving his first top billing this way to be more salt in the wound. 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!
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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
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User Reviews

 
Kay Gets The Drop On Bogey
18 September 2008 | by See all my reviews

Although Humphrey Bogart got star billing in King Of The Underworld, I'm willing to bet he didn't thank Jack Warner for it. In fact this film was one hollow crown.

King of the Underworld was supposedly a remake of the Paul Muni film, Dr. Socrates, but given Humphrey Bogart was in the cast, the character is written more like Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest. He even has an English writer along in the person of James Stephenson.

Kay Francis and John Eldredge are a pair of married doctors and Eldredge pulls off a tricky bit of surgery on one of Bogart's henchmen. Bogey's a man who appreciates good work done on his behalf and gives Eldredge $500.00 and there's more where that came from if he plays his cards right. Eldredge who has a gambling problem sees a good way to get some undeclared income.

But when he's killed in a raid on the gang's hideout, Francis is also thought to be involved by the law and the American Medical Association no matter how much she protests her innocence. It's no good and she and her aunt Jessie Busley move to a small town to get away from the notoriety.

Of course the notoriety and Bogart and an itinerant Leslie Howard like writer in Stephenson all meet up with her again. But Kay is plucky and resourceful to say the least.

Bogart's character was ridiculous, no wonder the poor guy was screaming for better parts. He's a gangster who both shoots down people without mercy and gives his henchmen hotfoots just for laughs. He's concerned about his image and therefore kidnaps writer Stephenson to ghost write his autobiography and of course confesses enough to burn him in all 48 states. And then let's Kay Francis completely outsmart him, hard to believe he was king of anything.

Definitely one of the lesser works for either of the stars.


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