Josef von Sternberg’s riveting breakthrough is widely considered the film that launched the American gangster genre. George Bancroft is the main heavy, “Bull” Weed, an urban 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 blossoming between Feathers and an alcoholic former lawyer (Clive Brook). With its supple, endlessly expressive camera work, and a screenplay by legendary scribe Ben Hecht (who won a best original story Oscar the first year the awards were given), Underworld solidified Sternberg’s place as one of Hollywood’s most exciting new talents.
- Six scores: one by Robert Israel for each film; two by the Alloy Orchestra, for Underworld and The Last Command; and a piano and voice piece by Donald Sosin for The Docks of New York
- Two new visual essays: one by UCLA film professor Janet Bergstrom and the other by film scholar Tag Gallagher
- 1968 Swedish television interview with director Josef von Sternberg, covering his entire career