1961-1970CrimeFilm NoirSamuel FullerUSA

Samuel Fuller – Underworld U.S.A. (1961)

A teenager who witnesses the murder of his father vows to exact revenge on the four mobsters involved in the killing.

Letterboxd reviews
★★★★★ Watched by Joe 14 Jun 2017


Peak Fuller nightmare-noir, with a plot that’s jagged and fast like a lightning bolt. The straight world is a million miles away from everything that happens in this movie.

★★★★ Watched by theironcupcake 20 Jun 2020

Pulling no punches as only a Samuel Fuller noir can do, Underworld U.S.A. is a gripping drama of a man’s retribution against the gangsters who murdered his father decades earlier. Fitting in nicely alongside Pickup on South Street, The Crimson Kimono and The Naked Kiss as one of the auteur’s most exciting crime sagas, this 1961 film stars Cliff Robertson as the vengeful ex-con who plays games with both good and bad guys in order to see his version of justice done. He’s cold and calculating, but the way he often gets other people to do his dirty work for him is fascinating. Moreover, every close-up on Robertson and leading lady Dolores Dorn (who was married to both Franchot Tone and Ben Piazza!) is an exquisitely framed snapshot of strained emotion, shot in crisp black-and-white by renowned cinematographer Hal Mohr.

It’s easy to savor the many character actors who populate Fuller’s cast: veteran singer and stage performer Beatrice Kay makes a rare film appearance as Robertson’s longtime friend and surrogate mother, while the racketeers and their underlings are played by Paul Dubov, Robert Emhardt, Richard Rust, Gerald Milton, Allan Gruener, Neyle Morrow and Peter Brocco. Eagle-eyed viewers will also spot Bernie Hamilton as one of the investigators in FBI agent Larry Gates’ office, as well as a couple of other African-American and Asian-American actors whose names don’t seem to be mentioned in the IMDb’s uncredited listing. I love that Fuller pushed for more racially diverse casts whenever he could, going against the Hollywood status quo whether overtly or subtly. (For that reason, the aforementioned The Crimson Kimono as well as House of Bamboo and Shock Corridor make for compelling material, not to mention 1982’s unsettling parable White Dog.) I’m really glad that TCM has been highlighting so much of Sam Fuller’s filmography lately, giving cinephiles across generations some prime opportunities to reexamine his career with fresh eyes or dive into it for the first time.

4.16GB | 1h 38m | 1280×694 | mkv



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