Underground


1h 35m 1941
Underground

Brief Synopsis

Resistance leaders in Germany plot to broadcast Nazi secrets over the radio.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Action
Adventure
War
Release Date
Jun 28, 1941
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York: 21 Jun 1941
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,519ft

Synopsis

Eric Franken works with the German underground to broadcast anti-Nazi information to the German people. When his brother Kurt, a soldier, returns home after losing an arm in battle, Eric must double his efforts to hide his activities. On the night of Kurt's return, the family is visited by an old friend, Gustav Müller, who has been saddened by the death of his son in the war. Kurt, who is convinced of the nobility of the German cause, accuses the grieving man of being unpatriotic. Eric has planned a broadcast for that evening and, intending to sneak out of the house, leaves for his room. Kurt follows him and, noticing a phone number for Sylvia Helmuth, another member of the underground, teases Eric about his "girl friend." After Kurt leaves, Eric drives with the others to a location in the country. While he broadcasts from a studio hidden in a tow truck, the Gestapo zeros in on their location. Warned by Fraulein Gessner, an operative inside Gestapo headquarters, the group is able to escape but is forced to burn the truck and destroy the equipment. Hoping to trap the members of the group, the Gestapo orders the release of their former associate, Hoffman, from a concentration camp. They force Hoffman to set up a meeting in the café where Sylvia plays the violin. The group is warned of the trap, but two of its members are killed. Meanwhile, Kurt has introduced himself to Sylvia and is very attracted to her. When she tries to pick up new radio equipment, Kurt insists on accompanying her despite her efforts to dissuade him. The Gestapo is waiting and Sylvia is arrested and tortured. She reveals nothing, however, and learning of Kurt's romantic interest in her, the Gestapo asks him to win Sylvia's confidence and report on her activities. Kurt is deeply disturbed by the treatment Sylvia received from the Gestapo, but believing her to be innocent, he agrees. Eventually, he tells her that he has been watching her and begs her to go away with him. While they talk, however, Kurt realizes that she is in fact a member of the underground and leaves her house. At home, Eric questions Kurt, determined to kill his own brother if necessary to defend the underground, but Kurt admits that he can never betray Sylvia because he loves her too much. Hoping to warn Sylvia of the danger, Kurt visits her one more time and sees her leave with other underground members. After he informs the Gestapo, he rushes Sylvia away and learns for the first time that Eric is one of the people he has betrayed. A distraught Kurt wants to tell Eric that he did not know of his brother's involvement, but Gessner convinces him that he can be of more use to Eric if he pretends that he willingly turned in his own brother. Kurt agrees to join the underground and allow Eric to die believing that he betrayed him, but on the day of the execution, Kurt broadcasts illegally over speakers at the execution site and, by reciting part of a motto that has always hung in the Franken home, lets Eric know that he will continue his work.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Action
Adventure
War
Release Date
Jun 28, 1941
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York: 21 Jun 1941
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,519ft

Articles

Underground -


Warner Bros. was ahead of its time in dealing with the Nazi threat before the U.S. entered World War II. The studio exposed the evils of fascism in A films like Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939) and B pictures like this fast-paced thriller. Underground didn't set out to be a B picture. The original story--about two German brothers, one a resistance fighter, the other a dedicated soldier for the Reich--came from top screen writers Carl Justus Mayer and Oliver H.P. Garrett, and the role of the soldier brother eventually brought into the Resistance was intended for John Garfield. At some point, however, the film moved to Bryan Foy's B unit, where the leads went to Warner's players Jeffrey Lynn as the young soldier, Kaaren Verne as the resistance member he loves and Phillip Dorn, on loan from MGM, as the brother already broadcasting anti-Nazi messages. Director Vincent Sherman was learning his craft directing B movies at Warner's. After Underground he would graduate to the As with the Humphrey Bogart vehicle All Through the Night (1941), followed by more hits with The Hard Way (1943), Mr. Skeffington (1944) and The Damned Don't Cry (1950).

By Frank Miller
Underground  -

Underground -

Warner Bros. was ahead of its time in dealing with the Nazi threat before the U.S. entered World War II. The studio exposed the evils of fascism in A films like Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939) and B pictures like this fast-paced thriller. Underground didn't set out to be a B picture. The original story--about two German brothers, one a resistance fighter, the other a dedicated soldier for the Reich--came from top screen writers Carl Justus Mayer and Oliver H.P. Garrett, and the role of the soldier brother eventually brought into the Resistance was intended for John Garfield. At some point, however, the film moved to Bryan Foy's B unit, where the leads went to Warner's players Jeffrey Lynn as the young soldier, Kaaren Verne as the resistance member he loves and Phillip Dorn, on loan from MGM, as the brother already broadcasting anti-Nazi messages. Director Vincent Sherman was learning his craft directing B movies at Warner's. After Underground he would graduate to the As with the Humphrey Bogart vehicle All Through the Night (1941), followed by more hits with The Hard Way (1943), Mr. Skeffington (1944) and The Damned Don't Cry (1950). By Frank Miller

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A 4 August 1940 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that John Garfield was first assigned to the lead. Philip Dorn was borrowed from M-G-M for the role of "Eric." The Variety review notes that Warner Bros. announced last-minute changes to the film's script to include a reference to Rudolf Hess's March 10, 1941 flight to Scotland in an abortive attempt to negotiate a peace between Germany and Great Britain. The review points out that the advertised changes amounted to only a few lines of dialogue "without plot significance."