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Josef von Sternberg United States, 1927

Duncan Gray's rating of the film Underworld

"The first American gangster film", the legends say, and whether that's true or not, when it comes to Sternberg you should reverently take legend over fact. This is a sign of how his visual flair and psychodrama could shock relatively straightforward genre material to life, with a moralistic cross-cutting finale that's like Griffith if Griffith had had a wilder sex life. Silent fans, see it.