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Underworld

Tuesday, December 14, 2021, 7:30 p.m., Dryden Theatre

(Josef von Sternberg, US 1927, 88 min., 35mm)

There is always a beginning, and despite the fact that movies about organized criminals date back as early as D. W. Griffith, this film is the start of what we now think of as the gangster genre. Ben Hecht’s script features realistic portrayals of Chicago mobsters and their violent proclivities. Von Sternberg added an operatic quality to the tale, romanticizing the lives the gangsters led, thus making them antiheroes instead of villains. Staples such as the moll and the mouthpiece make appearances in the film, given larger-than-life status by the epic treatment and glorious camera movement and visuals created by von Sternberg.

Live piano accompaniment by Dr. Philip C. Carli.

 

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