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
Produced byHal E. Chester
Screenplay byHenry Blankfort
Cy Endfield
Story byCraig Rice
StarringDan Duryea
Herbert Marshall
Gale Storm
Howard Da Silva
Michael O'Shea
Music byDavid Rose
CinematographyStanley Cortez
Edited byRichard V. Heermance
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 newspaper reporter Mike Reese (Duryea) loses his job at a big city paper he finds that no one else will hire him. Reese borrows money from a gangster and buys half the interest in a small-town newspaper, The Lakewood Gazette, in the town of Lakeville. The newspaper is owned by Catherine Harris (Storm), who immediately has differences with Reese on how the paper 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. When a local black woman is suspected, Reese turns the story into a media circus and soon his reporting is back in the spotlight again. 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 response

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 adaption


  1. The Underworld Story at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. MARSHALL TO STAR IN PICTURE FOR UA: Actor Is Returning to Screen in 'The Whip,' With Gale Storm and Dan Duryea By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 09 Aug 1949: 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)
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