King of the Underworld (1939): Seiler’s Crime Drama, Starring Bogart and Kay Francis

Lewis Seiler directed King of the Underworld, a crime drama starring Humphrey Bogart as a gangster and Kay Francis as a doctor forced to treat him.

King of the Underworld
King of the Underworld (1939 film) poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster

It is a remake of the 1935 film Dr. Socrates, which was based on a short story by W. R. Burnett.

Married doctors Niles (John Eldredge) and Carole Nelson (Kay Francis) save the life of a shot gangster. Joe Gurney (Humphrey Bogart), the patient’s boss, gives Niles $500 as reward, and suggests he goes uptown, where he can treat the rich. Niles takes his suggestion, but soon neglects his practice for his addiction: betting on horses.

The doctor starts treating Joe’s gang without telling his wife. But Carole gets suspicious and follows him. When the police raid the gang, Niles is killed while Joe and his gang escape.

Though the district attorney (Pierre Watkin) has no case, he charges Carole with being involved in order to put on a show for the public. The trial ends in hung jury, but her medical license remains at stake. She is given 3 months to prove it or the license will be revoked.

She relocates with her Aunt Josephine (Jessie Busley) to Wayne Center, where two of Joe’s men have been jailed, hoping to get in touch with the gangster.

In the end, Joe tries to track Carole through the house, but he is eventually gunned down by the police.

Cast
Humphrey Bogart as Joe Gurney
Kay Francis as Dr. Carole Nelson
James Stephenson as Bill Stevens
John Eldredge as Dr. Niles Nelson
Jessie Busley as Aunt Josephine
Arthur Aylesworth as Dr. Sanders
Raymond Brown as Sheriff
Harland Tucker as Mr. Ames
Ralph Remley as Mr. Robert
Charley Foy as Slick

Credits:

Directed by Lewis Seiler
Produced by Bryan Foy
Written by George Bricker, Vincent Sherman; Screenplay by George Bricker and Vincent Sherman[ Story by W. R. Burnett

Music by Heinz Roemheld
Cinematography Sidney Hickox
Edited by Frank DeWar

Production and distribution: Warner Bros.

Release date: January 14, 1939

Running time: 67 minutes

Note:

TCM showed this movie on June 22, 2021.