The Underworld Story

The Underworld Story is a 1950 American film noir crime film directed by Cy Endfield and starring Dan Duryea, Herbert Marshall, Gale Storm, Howard Da Silva and Michael O'Shea. Da Silva plays the loud-mouthed gangster Carl Durham, one of his last roles before becoming blacklisted.[1]

The Underworld Story
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCy Endfield
Screenplay byHenry Blankfort
Cy Endfield
Story byCraig Rice
Produced byHal E. Chester
StarringDan Duryea
Herbert Marshall
Gale Storm
Howard Da Silva
Michael O'Shea
CinematographyStanley Cortez
Edited byRichard V. Heermance
Music byDavid Rose
FilmCraft Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • July 26, 1950 (1950-07-26) (United States)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States

The newspaperman played by Duryea is similar in tone (a reporter that does anything for publicity for himself regardless of ethics) to Kirk Douglas in Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole (1951). This B-movie was shot in black and white by director Cy Endfield and cinematographer Stanley Cortez.


When big-city newspaper reporter Mike Reese (Duryea) writes and publishes a story (after breaking his promise to withhold it) that results in the murder of a state's witness against a local gang lord, he loses his job. He soon finds that no one else will hire him, so he extracts money from the drug lord (who is actually grateful for the story Reese published), moves to small-town Lakeville, and buys a half-interest in the newspaper, The Lakeville Sentinel. The newspaper is owned by Catherine Harris (Storm), who immediately has differences with Reese on how things should operate. Reese, trying to use the paper as a step up, latches onto a murder of a woman who happens to be the daughter-in-law of a newspaper magnate, his former employer. When a local black woman is suspected (revealed to the audience early as a scapegoat), Reese turns the story into a media circus, and soon his reporting is back in the spotlight again. Eventually, he finds himself having to decide if he will reform his opportunistic ways. The film is notable for the pejorative use of the word "nigger," though this is clearly dubbed, not what was originally filmed.



The film was known as The Whip.[2]


Critical responseEdit

The New York Times film critic, Bosley Crowther, panned the film. He wrote, "It is so poorly made, so haphazard and so full of detectable holes that it carries no impact or conviction, regardless of credibility. Mr. Chester and his associates are free to proclaim, if they wish, that newspaper men are no good. We think the same of his film."[3]

Film historian and critic Glenn Erickson wrote about the film's theme, "The Underworld Story plays like the work of angry men. The title isn't very appropriate, as the story doesn't center on gangsters. Its main focus is the misuse of the power of the press, with side excursions into racism, class arrogance and the influence of organized crime. As in Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole, raw greed leads to gross injustice. Like Wilder's venal Chuck Tatum, the reporter in The Underworld Story thinks of little beyond the next fast buck. 'Times are tough all over,' says a cynical official. 'Pretty soon a man won't be able to sell his own mother.'"[4]

Comic book adaptionEdit


  1. ^ The Underworld Story at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. ^ THOMAS F. BRADY (Aug 9, 1949). "MARSHALL TO STAR IN PICTURE FOR UA: Actor Is Returning to Screen in 'The Whip,' With Gale Storm and Dan Duryea". New York Times. p. 20.
  3. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, July 27, 1950. Accessed: August 17. 2013.
  4. ^ Erickson, Glenn. DVD Savant, film/DVD review, October 16, 2010. Accessed: August 17. 2013.
  5. ^ "Avon Periodicals: The Underworld Story". Grand Comics Database.
  6. ^ Avon Periodicals: The Underworld Story at the Comic Book DB (archived from the original)

External linksEdit