Often called the first gangster movie, this 1927 production directed by Josef Von Sternberg from a story by Ben Hecht would probably strike viewers today as very slow-paced and stylized for an action picture. In typical fashion, Von Sternberg concentrates mainly on the erotic rivalry between two crooks with colorful monikers, "Bull Weed" (George Bancroft) and "Rolls Royce" (Clive Brook)--an alcoholic lawyer Bull has dragged out of the gutter--for the favors of the gun moll "Feathers" McCoy (Evelyn Brent). However, the story culminates in a shoot out with Bull cornered by the cops in his hideout that obviously served as a model for the more famous finale of Scarface (1932). Underworld's success made Von Sternberg one of the most prominent directors in Hollywood and led to his shooting The Blue Angel in Germany a few years later. But if he had directed only this film and the two pictures which followed it--The Last Command and The Docks of New York, both 1928--he would still rank as one of the major figures in American movie history.
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The review of this Movie prepared by Dave C