Niles and Carol Nelson are married doctors who save one of ganglord Gurney\'s men. Gurney exploits them, then kills Niles leaving Carol to take the fall. He next kidnaps writer Bill Forrest to write his biography. Knowing Bill will be killed when the biography is finished, Carol takes matters into her own hands.
Humphrey Bogart ... Joe Gurney
Kay Francis ... Dr. Carole Nelson
James Stephenson ... Bill Stevens
John Eldredge ... Dr. Niles Nelson
Jessie Busley ... Aunt Josephine
Arthur Aylesworth ... Dr. Sanders
Raymond Brown ... Sheriff
Harland Tucker ... Mr. Ames
Ralph Remley ... Mr. Robert
Charley Foy ... Slick
Murray Alper ... Eddie
Joe Devlin ... Porky
Elliott Sullivan ... Mugsy
Alan Davis ... Pete
John Harmon ... Slats
In an effort to elevate Humphrey Bogart\'s star and get rid of Kay Francis, Warners remade Dr. Socrates, giving the good doctor a sex change and making him Kay Francis instead. However, Bogart gets top billing and Francis\' role was reduced. It didn\'t work; Francis kept plodding along until the end of her contract. Also, I still felt she came across as the star in this.
Francis plays a doctor whose husband starts picking up easy money repairing the wounds of gangsters and not reporting on their illegal activities. Eventually, he is killed in a raid, and the police are convinced that Francis was in on it with her husband. Unless she can prove her innocence, she\'s going to lose her medical license. When she gets a lead on the gang\'s whereabouts, she sets up shop in the same town.
It\'s really hard to believe this movie came out in 1939 - it has the look and feel of something done about five years earlier. Bogart is good as a cocky and violent criminal who trusts no one and is too fast with a gun. Stardom is just ahead for the actor, as well as lots less of films like this.
Francis was past the magic age of 30 by this time, and her big star, big film days were behind her. She would soon fall to second leads and eventually move over to Monogram for several films, and, after a couple of early TV appearances, would retire. Everything about Francis embodies the strong \'30s career woman, and it\'s hard to picture her out of the era. She does a great job in this as a determined, classy woman who has to use her wits to get out of a bad situation. An eminently watchable actress.
Worth seeing for Francis and Bogart just before his great career takes off.
King of the Underworld features an early role for Humphery Bogart in one of his many gangster roles.
He plays Joe Gurney who uses a female doctor to treat his men and pays her for it. He follows her when she goes to live with her Auntie after one of Gurney\'s men kills her doctor husband who also worked for him. Gurney kidnaps an author on his way to find the female doctor and gets him to write his life story and he then plans to kill him. He finally meets up with the doctor and after she gives Gurney and his men a substance that makes them temporarily blind, she and the author, who have now fallen in love manage to escape just as police arrive...
Joing the excellent Bogie in the cast are Kay Francis, James Stephenson and John Eldredge.
Watching King of the Underworld is a good way to spend just over an hour one evening.
This film is a very limp remake of an earlier Warner Brothers film, DR. SOCRATES. While this original film was pretty good, the changes made in the script did NOT improve the story at all and there were so many logical errors that the film is pretty skip-able unless you are a huge fan of Humphrey Bogart and gangster films (like me).
For some odd reason, instead of the original story idea of a doctor being forced to do medical treatment for the mob and being thought by outsiders to be a member of the gang, this time it\'s been altered a bit. Instead, the man who chooses to be a mob doctor is soon killed and his wife (Kay Francis--who was totally innocent but also a doctor) is unfairly blamed for helping the gang. Although there is no evidence at all that she was involved, the licensing board threatens to take away her license unless she can prove her innocence! This just doesn\'t make any logical sense--and using a flawed and illogical situation as the basis for the film is a serious problem! Plus what idiots would suggest that she needs to prove her innocence and resort to risking her life!? Now the logical errors don\'t stop here. For example, when the same gang later comes to Francis and forces her to help them, she doesn\'t immediately run to the police or FBI but plans on proving her innocence all alone and at a very leisurely pace! Duh! It is only after working with them for some time does she consider telling the authorities and she comes up with a COMPLETELY FAR-FETCHED plan to capture the gang and hand them over to the law! She convinces Bogart that infection in his arm has spread to his eyes (which it had) and he would be blind unless he allowed her to give him a miracle eye medication. This is tough to believe, but plausible. But, when she also says she needs to give it to all the gang members AND they must all keep their eyes tightly shut during the process, this is just stupid. Of course, she gave them something that temporarily blinded them all and they were soon apprehended, but believing these guys all did what she told them was just pushing credibility into the toilet (though I must admit, it was kind of funny to watch).
Now apart from the bad script problems, the film was still pretty watchable for fans of old Warner Brothers gangster films. In particular, Bogart was funny as the dumb gang leader who fancied himself to be the next Napoleon. Plus, he thought he was A LOT smarter than he really was and he thought when the doctor called him \"moronic\" that it was a complement! Sure, realism was not the trademark of this performance, but it was enjoyable and made me laugh a few times. Also, the very end of the film had a cute ending (after the blindness bit) and was a good wrap-up to the movie. So from a comedic point of view, this was a pretty good drama!
In this theatrical melodrama Humphrey plays a gangster; amazing stretch of the imagination, isn\'t it? A semi-literate, Bogie (bad guy Joe Gurney) idolizes Napoleon (short guy ego tripper) and quotes le petit emperor on occasion to justify his own actions, such as placing chunks of lead into the physiques of various inconvenient people with the assistance of gunpowder.
He utilizes this method of employee reduction to lay off (without benefits) his doctor, who\'s wife, Kay Francis (Dr. Carole Nelson), who has just won the Isabella Rossellini look-a-like contest, is also a doctor. She scrams Big City to settle down in a small town to start over, and prove her innocence on a charge of consorting with known actors who play criminals. This is considered highly unprofessional by other doctors, who sent in notes of complaint from the golf course.
Well, wonders never cease as Bogie and his gang show up coincidentally and quite by chance in that very exact identical same town! Of all the burgs in all the world, why did they have to drive into this one? Additionally, the gang has picked up a hitch-hiking writer (James Stephenson) who has become Bogie\'s biographer, not entirely of his own volition. Nefarious doings evolve, love blossoms, lots of action and shooting, police persons with tommy-guns are attracted; and maybe, just maybe the gangster wins in a 1930\'s era movie, by special dispensation of the Hayes Office.
Or maybe not. Jeepers, the suspense is killing you, so don\'t miss this movie if you get a chance! Just remember, the criminals are the ones who use poor grammar and have a tendency to fall down with holes in their bodies. Bogie proves adept at utilizing the vernacular popular amongst persons criminally inclined, as usual. And, I don\'t mind telling you that there is a modicum of suspense as the fair doctorette bravely faces adversaries on both sides of the law. I actually bit a fingernail. I give this one gun up with a lot of bullets. Hey, it\'s watchable and it\'s got Bogie!