6.4/10
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21 user 8 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.

Director:

Lewis Seiler

Writers:

George Bricker (screen play), Vincent Sherman (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Humphrey Bogart ... Joe Gurney
Kay Francis ... Carol Nelson
James Stephenson ... Bill Stevens
John Eldredge ... Niles Nelson
Jessie Busley ... Aunt Josephine
Arthur Aylesworth ... Dr. Sanders
Raymond Brown Raymond Brown ... Sheriff
Harland Tucker Harland Tucker ... Mr. Ames
Ralph Remley Ralph Remley ... Mr. Robert
Charley Foy ... Slick
Murray Alper ... Eddie
Joe Devlin ... Porky
Elliott Sullivan Elliott Sullivan ... Mugsy
Alan Davis Alan Davis ... Pete
John Harmon ... 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:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 January 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Unlawful See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Humphrey Bogart got star billing for the first time in his career, even though co-star Kay Francis made nine times more money than he did. This was a deliberate snub by Warner Brothers, who had to pay Kay Francis $200,000 a year, even when her movies began to lose money. 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

Joe Gurney: [Shocked that Gurney has shot one of his own men in the back] What yuh wanna do that for?
Joe Gurney: [as he looks dispassionately through the holes in his revolver and casually blows out dirt] It says in the book that Napoleon said a good general has got to know when to be just, severe, - or mild.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Great Performances: Bacall on Bogart (1988) 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
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Bogart puts comic spin on dumb criminal in programmer...
8 April 2013 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

The central role in this low-budget crime melodrama really belongs to KAY FRANCIS, and she makes her lady doctor pretty believable. But it's HUMPHREY BOGART who walks off with the show, which is no more than a programmer made on the cheap, by playing up the comic elements of his character.

Bogart is an illiterate man who wants his "genius" to be known. He kidnaps a man (James Stephenson) with a reputation as a writer in order to tell him his life story and make him the "king of the underworld." But Kay Francis spoils all his plans when she has to prove herself innocent of criminal charges pending against her due to a prior event. She fools the hoods into believing they will go blind if they don't let her help them.

The story has several implausible script problems and never really comes off as credible. Interesting only to see that Bogart was far more worthy of his early material than the studio realized. And Kay Francis has one of her more believable roles in this crime melodrama.


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