On trial for murdering his girlfriend, philandering stockbroker Larry Ballentine takes the stand to claim his innocence and describe the actual, but improbable sounding, sequence of events that led to her death.
Mike Reese, yellow journalist and antihero, prints a story that leads to a gang killing, and is blacklisted from the city papers under suspicion of ties with racketeer Carl Durham. So, with a shrug, he makes the suspicion come true, then elbows his way into the editorship of the local paper in a small town where, opportunely, a sensational murder case threatens to destroy the family of newspaper magnate E.J. Stanton. When a black servant is made the patsy for this killing, Reese helps himself by helping her...but proves a dangerous ally.Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The sleeve on the VHS release of "Underworld Story" calls it "a powerful indictment of sensationalistic journalism." But this very interesting little "B" film's real "powerful indictment" is against the methods of the House Un-American Activities Committee in its search, during the late 1940's and early 1950's, for Communists and fellow travelers in America, especially in the film industry. "Underworld Story" was filmed just after HUAC's hearings of 1949/50 had ended. It was released (1951, through United Artists)as the first of the Hollywood Ten were going off to prison. Both director Cyril Enfield and screenwriter Henry Blankfort were "named" as Communists and both ended up blacklisted (as was actor Howard DaSilva). "Underworld Story" is not mentioned in the various books on the Hollywood blacklist, probably because it was an indie genre picture and lacked the cachet of a big-budget major studio effort. But, make no mistake, "Underworld Story" is a savage indictment of witch hunts, moral ambivalence and racism. All this would be very dry, but "Underworld Story" - although the story is familiar (cad sees the light) - is well plotted, well written, and well acted.
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