King of the Underworld

Watch King of the Underworld

"Don't kill this killer! Bring him back alive!"
  • NR
  • 1939
  • 1 hr 6 min
  • 6.4  (1,560)

King of the Underworld is a crime drama film released in 1939, directed by Lewis Seiler and starring Humphrey Bogart, Kay Francis, and James Stephenson. The story revolves around a former convict turned powerful mob boss, Joe Gurney (Humphrey Bogart), who manages to keep the cops and the underworld at bay while expanding his illegal empire. However, his luck takes a turn for the worse when his trusted aide, Nick (John Eldredge), decides to betray him and turn state's evidence.

The opening scene sees Joe Gurney preparing to meet with a group of business owners who have been refusing to pay him protection money. Joe manages to intimidate them enough to have them agree to his terms and pay up, but not before one of them, Dan, tells him that he needs to clean up his act and find a legitimate job. Joe Gurney brushes off Dan's advice and goes back to his headquarters, where he learns that his right-hand man Nick has partnered with the District Attorney's office to bring him down.

From this point, the story takes us through a series of twists and turns as Joe Gurney tries to figure out who is leaking information to the cops while also expanding his criminal empire. Along the way, he meets a social worker named Carol (Kay Francis) who tries to reform him but ultimately falls in love with him. Joe's attempts to maintain control over his criminal enterprise become increasingly desperate as Nick's testimony threatens to put him behind bars.

Humphrey Bogart delivers a masterful performance as usual, playing Joe Gurney as a ruthless yet charismatic gang leader who commands respect from his subordinates while striking fear into his enemies. Kay Francis is also excellent as the social worker who tries to reform Joe and ultimately becomes his love interest. The chemistry between the two actors is palpable, and their scenes together provide a welcome respite from the gritty underworld drama.

James Stephenson rounds out the lead actors with a solid performance as the District Attorney's investigator who tries to bring Joe Gurney to justice. Stephenson's character is portrayed as a dedicated lawman who is willing to do whatever it takes to put Joe behind bars, even if it means putting himself in harm's way.

The supporting cast is also noteworthy, with John Eldredge standing out as Joe's treacherous aide Nick. Eldredge plays his character with just the right amount of smarmy charm, making Nick both despicable and fascinating at the same time. Other notable performances include Jessie Busley as Joe's mother, who tries to talk him out of a life of crime, and Harold Huber as Joe's loyal lieutenant, who sticks with him to the bitter end.

The film's direction by Lewis Seiler is top-notch, with excellent pacing and camera work that perfectly captures the seedy underworld setting. The script by Vincent Sherman and Tom Reed is also well-crafted, drawing on real-life gangster stories to create a compelling narrative that keeps the audience engaged from start to finish.

Overall, King of the Underworld is a must-see for fans of classic crime dramas and anyone who appreciates great acting and storytelling. While not as well-known as some of Humphrey Bogart's other films from the same era, this movie is a true gem that deserves to be rediscovered by modern audiences. Highly recommended.

King of the Underworld is a 1939 romance movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 6 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.4.

King of the Underworld
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 6 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.4  (1,560)