Friday, February 28, 2014

Romance of the Underworld (1928)

Judy (Mary Astor) is a nice girl who has fallen on hard times.  She ends up working in a nightclub where she becomes involved with gangster Derby Dan Manning (Ben Bard).  When the club is raided one night, kindly policeman Edwin Burke (Robert Elliot) sees her there, but allows her to leave without punishment so that she can make a fresh start with her life.  She gets a job as a waitress in a gentleman's business club and goes to night school to study stenography.  At the club Judy meets businessman Stephen Ransome (John Boles) in passing -- and some time later she becomes one of his new secretaries.  They fall in love and decide to get married.  When their second wedding anniversary arrives, the two remain blissfully happy.  Unfortunately, Judy is in for a shock when Derby Dan arrives at her house.  He has just been released from prison and demands a fortune from her -- or else he will reveal her secret past to her husband.

Romance of the Underworld is an intriguing and entertaining little film with a fast-paced, interesting storyline and fine performances.

Mary Astor is excellent as Judy, lovely and very expressive.  It’s fun to see her paired with John Boles in this silent film.  Ben Bard makes a great bad guy and Robert Elliot is so nice as the compassionate policeman who helps her out.

Some of my favorite parts are the mirror scenes when Judy and Stephen meet at the club and his office, his marriage proposal to her, and the conclusion.  I think the resolution is actually one of the aspects I liked best because it is one that does not usually occur in films.  It was really marvelous to see how Judy was able to overcome her past without having to let it potentially ruin anyone’s happiness.

The scenes with the gangsters are quite exciting as well!   Although the film only runs seventy minutes in length, it does well with smoothly balancing both the passages of time and the transitions in sequences.  It was well worth watching and I'm glad I got the chance to see it.

♥ ♥ ♥ ½