DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Underground
Underground
Roan Group // Unrated // September 28, 2004
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted October 8, 2004 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The Movie:

Vincent Sherman started out acting on the stage and was called to Hollywood when they decided to film a play he was appearing in.  That part led to more small roles, but he probably wouldn't be remembered today if he didn't start rewriting his lines to make them sound more authentic.  Soon he jumped from acting to being a script doctor.  One thing led to another, and in 1941 he was tapped to direct his first feature film.  Sherman went on to become one of Warner Brothers stable of directors during the heyday of the studio system and he thrived there.  He directed such notables as Bette Davis, John Garfield, and Joan Crawford, and he was at the helm of The Adventures of Don Juan, Errol Flynn's last swashbuckling role.  (A production that was plagued by delays and cost overruns because the star often didn't show up, and when he did, he was usually drunk.)  Though Sherman was blacklisted for a time in the 50's, he had a long career in television in the 60's and 70's directing episodes of The Walton, Baretta, and 77 Sunset Strip, among many others.

Sherman's first directing job was a B picture from a script that had been kicking around Warners for a while.  His 1941 movie Underground lacks big name stars but is a tightly written and produced movie about Nazi Germany during the WWII.

Set in Nazi Germany, Eric Franken (Phillip Dorn) is the leader of an underground movement.  His organization is trying to inform the German people about what the Nazi's are really doing through illegal radio transmissions.  Eric's brother, Kurt (Jeffrey Lynn,) is a German solider who is sent home after losing his arm in battle.  Kurt is fiercely loyal to the Nazi party and thinks that the war is a good thing for Germany.  But when Kurt's girlfriend is suspected of being involved with the underground radio and questioned by the Gestapo, he starts to question his loyalty.  Convinced that his love would never betray the Fatherland, Kurt agrees to spy on her, thinking that the information he discovers will clear her.  The exact opposite happens of course, and Kurt is trapped between loyalty to his country, and that of his family and the woman he loves.

This  film was made when Europe was at war but before the United States entered the conflict, and it is interesting to see how the Nazi's are portrayed.  Martin Kosleck does a wonderful job as the vicious and cruel Gestapo commander, but the concentration camp scenes, though they were trying to make it look brutal, are a far, far cry from what really happened.

Although it was a propaganda piece, the movie is still very good, much better than a lot of war movies made after we had entered WWII.  The script was very tight and though there were only a few action scenes, the suspense was constant throughout the film.  There were several very good scenes, especially the part where Eric confronts a former underground leader (played powerfully by Wolfgang Zilzer) who agrees to locate the underground for the Gestapo in return for being released from Dachau.

Sherman's direction is very good, especially for a first time director working with a very limited budget.  The scene in the concentration camp looks like something out of a Universal monster movie of the time, creating an eerie feeling without resulting to violence that surely would have been cut.  Lighting the Nazi guards from below is a simple trick, but he used it effectively to make them look sinister and evil.

This is a very underrated film, not only interesting propaganda, but also a good movie.

The DVD:


Audio:

The two channel mono soundtrack was good for a film of this age.  The dialog was clear, and the level of hiss was very low.  Being made in 1941, there wasn't a lot of dynamic range, but that is to be expected.  There was some distortion in some of the louder areas, and an occasional dropout, but these were minor.

Video:

This DVD was mastered from a very good unrestored print of the film, and it looks nice for a 60 year old movie.  There was some slight damage to the print, a little dirt and some spots, but it looked much better than I was expecting.  The image was a little soft, and details were lost in dark areas.  The contrast was not particularly strong, but even with these defects the film looked very good.  I think most people who see this DVD will be very pleased.

Extras:

Public domain release companies put out bare bones DVDs as a rule.  It's rare to find anything more than a trailer on these budget releases, but Roan has included a couple of nice bonus features.  The first is a fourteen minute interview (including a long winded introduction by Lloyd Kaufman) with Vincent Sherman where he talks about being black listed in the 50's.  There is also a second interview Sherman interview where he discusses how he started in movies as an actor and talks about how he came to direct.

In addition to a short text piece on the movie, there is also the Radiation March, an odd PSA about the dangers of pollution, and a trailer for the movie Shark.

Final Thoughts:

This is a surprisingly good film.  This is a propaganda movie, but it is also a suspensful film with solid acting and direction.  Roan did a very great job with the DVD, putting out a nice looking movie with some good extras for a very reasonable price.  This disc gets a high Recommendation.

Popular Reviews
1. Snowpiercer
2. Nightbreed: The Director's Cut
3. The Purge: Anarchy
4. The Vanishing
5. La dolce vita
6. Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series
7. Deliver Us From Evil
8. Married to the Mob
9. WKRP In Cincinnati: The Complete Series
10. Kingpin


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use