"The first American gangster film", the legends say, and whether that's true or not, when it comes to Sternberg you should reverently take legend over fact. This is a sign of how his visual flair and psychodrama could shock relatively straightforward genre material to life, with a moralistic cross-cutting finale that's like Griffith if Griffith had had a wilder sex life. Silent fans, see it.
Not von Sternberg's best, but still a very good film, solidifying many of the familiar archetypes and storylines of gangster movies for years to come. While the story may not be as compelling as some of von Sternberg's best, the artistry is still evident for all to see - just watch the sequence when a drunken Bull Weed stumbles to the aid of his girlfriend. It just _looks_ like a von Sternberg sequence.
An otherworldly bastard ancestor in the story of film.
A rawly burlesque and immodest fist to my face.
Every scene saturated with a trashy fragrance, a cathartic stench of lavish havoc...
UH, the burning ancient energy!!
I did not know that Josef von Sternberg was that good that early in his career. I had this idea (and i was obviously mistaken) that he owned a lot to Dietrich. Maybe it was actually the other way around. This "Underworld" is way better than any other silent gangster film (W.Wellman included). The rythm, the acting, great editing and great sens of detail. Instant classic and top-ranked untertainment.
Epoustouflant chef-d'oeuvre dramatique, souvent considéré par certains exégètes, comme l'embryon du "film noir américain" qui obtint un conséquent succès public, malgré les craintes de la Paramount, pariant sur un échec commercial (au point que Ben Hecht, à l'origine de l'histoire, avait demandé que son nom soit retiré du générique) magnifié par une sidérante interprétation de George Bancroft. www.cinefiches.com