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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

King of the Underworld

1939 | United States | 67 min | More...
A still from King of the Underworld (1939)
  • Watched on D+: 2 stars (out of 5)
    on Fri Sep 9, 2022 via Watch TCM

    Kay Francis plays a doctor in danger of losing her license after her fellow doctor husband dies during a police raid where it’s discovered he’s been aiding a criminal gang lead by Humphrey Bogart and getting well paid for it.

    Determined to clear her name, Francis moves out to the country where it’s believed Bogart’s hiding out. James Stephenson plays a wandering intellectual who Bogart ropes into ghost-writing his autobiography. Soon Bogart’s injured during a robbery and shows up at Francis’s door looking for help. She ingratiates herself but soon springs a trap.

    It’s a preposterous ploy that sees Francis blind Bogart and his crew then try to escape with Stephenson while the gangsters wander around like zombies, guns at the ready. The film proffers a novel blurred screen effect meant to simulate the impaired vision. Soon the cops arrive and a shootout ensues. I couldn’t help but wonder how the goons found the windows to shoot out of, given they’re supposed to be blind. At least the gunplay results in actual bloody wounds, not just folks doubling over and collapsing.

    For his part, Bogart plays the same inarticulate heavy that dominated this stage of his career at Warner Bros. “Me against the rest of the woy-ald.” he says while reading a book titled Famous Sayings and Doings of Napoleon. I know because said book has the title printed on both sides.