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Label:
Name: TWILIGHT TIME
Number: TWILIGHT324-BR

UNDERWORLD U.S.A. (1961) (BLU-RAY)
Starring:  Cliff Robertson, Robert Emhardt, Dolores Dorn, Beatrice Kay, Larry Gates, Paul Dubov, Richard Rust
Directed By:  Samuel Fuller
Composed By:  Harry Sukman

“Perhaps the best example of Sam Fuller in ‘shocking exposé’ mode…Fueled by cinematic blood and thunder, Fuller’s tabloid-in-motion is a one-man crusade against organized crime.”
– Glenn Erickson, DVDTalk.com

“Arguably Fuller’s most efficient, brutal, and unsentimental film, and its reputation has only grown with the passing years…offers a compelling vision of American society in collapse.”
– Wheeler Winston Dixon, Senses of Cinema

The great American auteur Samuel Fuller gives us, in Underworld U.S.A. (1961), a terrifyingly prescient look at a nation – on the surface serene and at peace – in which organized crime and big business have somehow merged. All this is seen through the eyes of a young man (Cliff Robertson) bent on avenging the death of his father at the hands of “punks” who turn out to be ubiquitous and working on both sides of the law. Also starring (wonderfully) Dolores Dorn, Beatrice Kay, and Richard Rust, and memorably shot by the great Hal Mohr (Rancho Notorious, The Wild One).

LANGUAGE: English
VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1
AUDIO: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA
SUBTITLES: English SDH
1961 / B&W
98 MINUTES
NOT RATED

Special Features: Isolated Music Track / Sam Fuller Storyteller / Martin Scorsese on Underworld U.S.A. / Original Theatrical Trailer

Limited Edition of 3,000 Units

  
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Posted by Mark Turner on May 2, 2018 10:52 AM
In looking into this film I came across a nice description of the film, a genre I’d not actually heard of before. They termed this film neo-noir. Film noir is used to describe darker crime dramas that come out during the 40s and 50s but by the time this film arrived those had passed. Taking that same sort of crime drama and placing it into current context (at the time) placed this movie in that new category. The film is filled with crime and has that dark sensibility to it and if you enjoy films of the genre the odds are good you’ll enjoy this one.

The movie opens with a tough street kid named Tolly Devlin (David Kent) who witnesses the murder of his father by four thugs. Recognizing one of them he doesn’t turn him in, instead vowing vengeance to the mother figure in his life, speakeasy owner Sandy (Beatrice Kay). Becoming a career criminal he first get sent to reform school but then as he gets older upgrades to safe cracking. This gets him tossed into prison where he wants to be since the man he recognized is there.

Now grown (and portrayed by Cliff Robertson) he works his way into the prison hospital where he confronts the man and on his death bed learns the identities of the other 3 men involved. When he’s released from prison he returns to Sandy who encourages him to go straight. She’s sold her business to the new crime lord in town Earl Connors (Robert Emhardt). Tolly tells her he’ll do so but has his own agenda in mind.

Stealing drugs one of the men on his list, now working for Connors, deals he gets a meeting with the man. Claiming he had no idea who they belonged to he gains favor with the man and goes to work for him. While taking the drugs he rescues a woman named Cuddles (Dolores Dorn) who would have been killed had he not done so.

Cuddles and Tolly are soon an item, at least in her mind. For Tolly his life is nothing but revenge. It isn’t long before he creates a long term plan to take down the men who killed his father. He approaches the special investigator into organized crime, John Driscoll (Larry Gates). Driscoll was the assistant DA looking into his father’s death. Now Tolly tells him he’s willing to help by providing him information about the entire Connors crime organization.

Playing one side against the other in this pursuit of revenge there is one thing that Tolly loses in the process, his humanity. His passion to get back at the men who killed his father is so consuming that he loses all respect for anyone, including Sandy. His treatment of Cuddles is no more chivalric than that of her tormentors in the Connors organization who eventually call for her death. The question being asked throughout the film is will Tolly carry on with his quest for revenge or instead seek redemption?

The film was directed by Sam Fuller, known for his work in the genre. Fuller had no problem working outside the studio system and was well known for making solid films on a low budget that didn’t seem so. The worlds he depicted were normally gritty and filled with unfeeling characters. This film fit right into the movies he was known for and along with SHOCK CORRIDOR and THE NAKED KISS have become highly regarded critically.

I’ve always enjoyed Robertson in films I’ve seen him in but I wasn’t prepared for his portrayal of Tolly here. Robertson always played good guys or aw shucks style characters. He holds his own here as the single minded killer with no compunction for destroying the men who killed his father no matter who gets hurt in the process. His treatment of Cuddles is cold and cruel and makes you find it difficult to sympathize with his character. His quest for revenge seems justified but his method of pursuing it leave him someone we all find hard to support.

The movie was an entertaining crime drama that I’m sure fans will enjoy. Twilight Time is releasing this in their usual cleaned up style with a 1080p hi def version on blu-ray. Extras here are more than the usual with an isolated music track, a short documentary SAM FULLER STORYTELLER, a reflection on the film MARTIN SCORSESE ON UNDERWORLD U.S.A. and the original theatrical trailer. As always the release is limited to just 3,000 copies so if interested order yours today.

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