Underworld Underworld
  • United States
  • 1927
  • 81 minutes
  • Black and White
  • 1.33:1
  •  
  • Spine #529

Josef von Sternberg’s riveting breakthrough is widely considered the film that launched the American gangster genre as we know it. George Bancroft plays heavy Bull Weed, a criminal kingpin whose jealous devotion to his moll, Feathers (Evelyn Brent), gets him into hot water with a rival hood and, ultimately, the authorities. Further complicating matters is the attraction that blossoms between Feathers and an alcoholic former lawyer (Clive Brook). With its supple, endlessly expressive camera work and tightly wound screenplay based on a story by legendary scribe Ben Hecht (who won an Oscar for it the first year the awards were given),Underworld solidified von Sternberg’s place as one of Hollywood’s most exciting new talents.

Cast

Bull WeedGeorge Bancroft
FeathersEvelyn Brent
Rolls RoyceClive Brook
Buck MulliganFred Kohler
His GirlHelen Lynch
Slippy LewisLarry Semon
PalomaJerry Mandy

Credits

DirectorJosef von Sternberg
Photographed byBert Glennon
EditingE. Lloyd Sheldon
Story byBen Hecht
Adaptation byCharles Furthman
ScreenplayRobert N. Lee

Disc Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Two scores, one by Robert Israel and another by Alloy Orchestra
  • New visual essay by UCLA film professor Janet Bergstrom

Film Essays

Underworld: Dreamland

By Geoffrey O’Brien August 24, 2010

In a photograph of Josef von Sternberg from 1937, he looks like a character from one of his own films: a turbaned magus with elegantly trimmed beard and mustache, holding a cigarette as he gazes . . . Read more »

Press Notes

Press Notes: 2010—One Last Look

January 03, 2011

Before we put 2010 to bed, we thought we’d catch up with all the year-end lists that have sprung up over the past week or so. A good place to start is DVD Beaver’s annual poll, which ranks the . . . Read more »


Press Notes

Press Notes: Looking Back at 2010

December 22, 2010

Sight & Sound’s annual poll of the year’s best DVD (and Blu-ray) releases is out, and this edition features choices from twenty-four “contributors, DVD distributors, and curators.” We’re . . . Read more »


Film Essays

Underworld: Dreamland

By Geoffrey O’Brien August 24, 2010

In a photograph of Josef von Sternberg from 1937, he looks like a character from one of his own films: a turbaned magus with elegantly trimmed beard and mustache, holding a cigarette as he gazes . . . Read more »


Press Notes

Press Notes: 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg

August 23, 2010

The exceptional early Hollywood movies in the new DVD collector’s set 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg have been unavailable for so long that their reemergence is being treated by . . . Read more »


Features

Mit Out Sound, Mit Out Solution

By Guy Maddin August 13, 2010

When John Grierson, the Scotsman whose absolute devotion to realism on film—he coined the word documentary and created the National Film Board of Canada—was asked how he’d enjoyed a screening of . . . Read more »


On Five

Visit to the George Eastman House

December 16, 2009

Last Friday, Fumiko, Issa, and I went up to Rochester, New York, to the Eastman House. We have been talking to them about accessing their archive on a more regular basis, starting with the three . . . Read more »