This week’s particularly fun (for me, anyway) mystery movie was the 1950 United Artists release “The Underworld Story,” with Dan Duryea, Herbert Marshall, Gale Storm, Howard Da Silva, Michael O’Shea, Mary Anderson, Gar Moore, Melville Cooper, Frieda Inescort, Art Baker, Harry Shannon, Alan Hale Jr., Stephen Dunne, Roland Winters, Sue England, Lewis L. Russell and Frances Chaney.
Screenplay by Henry Blankfort, adaptation by Cyril Endfield from a story by Craig Rice. Associate producer Bernard W. Burton, photography by Stanley Cortez, production manager Allen K. Wood, assistant director William Calihan, art director Gordon Wiles, film editor Richard Heermance, set decorations by Ray Boltz, dialogue director G. Joseph Dell, technical advisor Ben F. Melzer, sound by Tom Lambert, set continuity by Bobbie Sierks, hairstylist Stephanie Garland, makeup by Tom Tuttle, wardrobe by Esther Krebs and Leonard Harris, set supervisor Dave Milton, musical director Irving Friedman, music by David Rose. Produced by Hal E. Chester. Directed by Cyril Endfield. Presented by Jack Dietz.
“The Underworld Story” is available on DVD from Warner Archive.
“The Underworld Story” proved to be a superlative mystery movie because the Brain Trust was able to identify one of the main characters, who wasn’t listed in the credits, on imdb or the AFI catalog. A challenge!
There are also many shots of downtown Los Angeles as it was in 1950. I’ll try to post a few of these next week.
Writing in the New York Times (July 27, 1950), Bosley Crowther was unstinting in his disapproval of such goings-on.
An alarmingly low opinion of newspaper publishers and newspapermen is apparently held by the people who got together to make Hal E. Chester’s “The Underworld Story,” which came to the Rivoli yesterday. For the villain in this fable is a newspaper publisher who viciously employs the public prints to heap suspicion upon an innocent party for a murder committed by his son, and the protagonist is a brazen and mercenary reporter who comes around to the point of serving justice only when he fails at a couple of dirty deals.
In short, journalism is presented as a wicked, corrupt and shameless trade in this crime-conscious film, which was written by Henry Blankfort from a story by Craig Rice.
…. One need not trouble too much about the damage which this firm (film?) is likely to do in disturbing the public’s confidence. It is so poorly made, so haphazard and so full of detectable holes that it carries no impact or conviction, regardless of credibility.
For Monday, we have a mystery gent.
Update: This is Douglas Evans.
For Tuesday, our mystery gent is on the phone. As incredible as it may seem, he does not approve of such goings-on.
Update: This fellow was the subject of much curiosity and superb delving into the most distant corners of film research. The uncredited role of Ed Gordon is played by Mervin (or Mervyn) Williams, who seems to have disappeared from acting in the 1950s. The Los Angeles Times has stories under both names, generally affiliated with the Pasadena Playhouse. Both names are also listed in IBDB, IMDB and the New York Times. Congrats to Sue Slutzky and Sylvia E. for tracking down our elusive newspaper editor.
Brain Trust roll call: Suzanne Stone (Monday’s mystery newscaster) and Don Danard (Monday’s mystery newscaster).
For Wednesday, we have an especially fun mystery. What’s missing from this picture?
The Times Eagle is missing from the little alcove just off the Globe Lobby. At this time, the Eagle was most likely on the roof of The Times Building. The Times took the Eagle off the roof in the early 1950s because of smog damage and it was stored in a building manager’s office, where it was “decorated” with a cigar, a hat and its claws were painted red (according to Times lore) until it was rediscovered and put in the lobby during the remodeling in which Hugo Ballin’s murals were covered up because someone decided they were “dated.” Incredible. Also, the bust of Norman Chandler was moved near the doors to 1st Street to make way for Paul Conrad’s bust of Otis Chandler.
And for the record, I do not approve of such goings-on.
Also for Wednesday, we have this mystery gent.
Update: This is Harry Shannon.
For Thursday, we have two somewhat mysterious gents. They are discussing goings-on that are not approved of.
Update: This is Gar Moore and Herbert Marshall.
Also a mystery woman.
Update: This is Mary Anderson.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie and Monday’s and Wednesday’s mystery guests, and mystery newspaper lobby), Mike Hawks (Wednesday’s mystery gent), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and Monday’s and Wednesday’s mystery guests, and mystery newspaper lobby), Don Danard (Wednesday’s mystery guest), Anne Papineau (mystery newspaper lobby), Floyd Thursby (Wednesday’s mystery guest), Gary (mystery newspaper lobby), Mark G. (mystery newspaper lobby), Sarah (mystery newspaper lobby), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast, plus mystery newspaper lobby).
Mark G. made an interesting point about the mystery newspaper lobby. But there’s something else — much bigger — missing.
For Friday, we have our non-mysterious villain….
Update: This is Howard Da Silva, who was blacklisted the next year.
And we have the non-mysterious leading lady….
Update: Gale Storm does not approve of such goings-on.
Also, our mysterious leading man reads a mystery newspaper’s inscription about (gasp) INDUSTRIAL FREEDOM – otherwise known as the “open shop.”
Update: Dan Duryea admires the motto carved into The Times Building about no unions.
Brain Trust roll call: Tucson Barbara (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guests), Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guests), Sue Slutzky (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery newscaster, Wednesday’s mystery printer, Thursday’s mystery guests and the mystery newspaper lobby with a large globe in the middle), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), B.J. Merholz (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery printer), Benito (Thursday’s mystery guest No. 2), and Sylvia E. (mystery movie, Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests).
L.C. and Sylvia E. for identifying the large object missing from the mystery newspaper lobby.
Update: I’m really curious about what’s back there. A stock ticker? A time capsule? And some sort of plaque, perhaps. I’ll have to ask Darrell Kunitomi!