Unarguably the film that launched the American gangster genre as we know it. George Bancroft plays heavy Bull Weed, a criminal kingpin whose jealous devotion to his moll, 'Feathers' McCoy (Evelyn Brent), gets him into hot water with a rival hood and, ultimately, the authorities.
Underworld is a gripping film that rightly propelled von Sternberg to fame as one of Hollywood's most exciting talents.
Tickets (at a very reasonable £6) can be purchased here.
The film is showing as part of the National Gallery's exhibition Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance which highlights the ways in which paintings, drawings and prints by German artists were valued in the 16th century for the qualities of expression and inventiveness. The suggestion is that such qualities were perhaps inherent in German culture, as centuries later they were characteristic of 1920s German cinema, which had a huge influence on Hollywood and film noir.
The other silent films in the season are The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and Faust