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Film / Underworld U.S.A.

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Underworld U.S.A. is a 1961 American neo-noir crime film produced, written and directed by Samuel Fuller. It stars Cliff Robertson, Dolores Dorn, and Beatrice Kay.

When he was a young boy and saw his father killed by an organized group of criminals, Tolly Devlin decided that he would track down those responsible and make them pay for their act of violence that cause his father's death. After landing in jail when convicted on a burglary charge, Tolly tracks down the leader of the gangsters who killed his father and extracts the names of the others who all have covers as respectable business men in a company that is a front for a criminal organization. When Tolly saves the life of mob drug courier Cuddles, he realizes he can learn more about the crime organization and revenge his father's murder. When Federal Attorney Driscoll approaches Tolly with a deal to give them information in exchange for a conviction of the guilty men, Tolly refuses until he discovers the ring leader Connors who appears untouchable. Tolly concocts a scheme with Driscoll of supplying misinformation to the crooks which turns them against themselves, and it appears the police will have them all arrested until Tolly takes matters into his own hands.


  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: The kingpin Connors tells Gela, his head of narcotics, to make up lost revenue by selling to 10 to 15 year olds, and instructs him to have his 'product men' target schools.
  • As You Know: Driscoll delivers a long spiel to the members of his team on the operational structure of The Syndicate. As the team consists of FBI Agents and federal attorneys who have been investigating organized crime for months (if not years), it would seem that this is information they should already possess.
  • Book Ends: Begins and ends with Tolly in the same alley.
  • Car Fu: Gus murders Menkin's young daughter Jenny by running her over with his car while she is riding her bike.
  • Creepy Doll: After Cuddles passes out, she wakes up on the bed in the room that houses Sandy's doll collection; which are staring at her unnervingly.
  • Dirty Cop: Police Chief Fowler is receiving $5000 a week to turn a blind eye to The Syndicate's drug dealing and prostitution.
  • Driven to Suicide: When Dirty Cop Police Chief Fowler is indicted for corruption, Driscoll attempts to get him to take a deal to testify against the The Syndicate. Fowler says that his family will never be safe so long as he is alive, draws his gun, and blows his brains out.
  • Drunk Rolling: The film opens with a 14 year-old Tolly rolling a drunk who has just left a New Years Eve party. He steals the man's wallet and watch before he has to flee from an approaching cop.
  • Everybody Smokes
  • Fat Bastard: Connors, the gang boss who tells Gela to start targeting schools to sell his dope because they need to improve their bottom line, is noticeably corpulent and is seen eating in many of his scenes.
  • Get into Jail Free: A teenaged Tolly smashes the window of a delicatessen just after the beat cop has rounded the corner in order to get himself arrested.
  • The Ghost: The bookkeeper Menkin, who is threatening to inform on the mob to Driscoll and the Crime Commission, never appears on screen but has a major influence on the plot.
  • Gotta Kill 'Em All: Tolly vows to kill the four who beat his father to death, and embarks upon a 20 year campaign of revenge. In the end, all of them die as a result of his actions, although he kills none of them directly.
  • Last Breath Bullet: After he kills Connors, Tolly stats to leave the penthouse pool. Connors bodyguard, who Tolly had knocked out earlier, revives enough to fire one shot, fatally wounding Tolly, before either dying or passing out.
  • Man on Fire: Gus kills Gunther by locking him in his car and setting it of fire.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The film opens with Tolly as 14 year-old punk who witnesses his father being beaten to death by four mobsters in an alley. A brief montage shows various criminal acts of his over the years, finishing with him as adult in prison where the main story starts.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Cuddles
  • Pet the Dog: Gus, a ruthless enforcer who murders a little girl by running her over with his car in front of her mother, tells Tolly how much he enjoys acting as lifeguard at the swim meets for underprivileged kids.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Gus knocks Gunther out by slugging him on the back of his neck with considerable viciousness. Tolly later does the same ting to Gus before dumping him at the police station, and to Connors' bodyguard when he arrives at the penthouse.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Tolly devotes almost 20 years to tracking down his father's killers: including spend five years in prison just so he can get close to Vic Farrar.
  • Safecracking: Tolly is an expert safecracker. When he infiltrates the mob, they initially put him to work as a numbers runner, but after he proves himself, they send him to break into the federal prosecutor's safe to find out what evidence he has against them.
  • Scars are Forever: In the opening scene, the 14 year-old Tolly gets hit on the head with a brick. The scar on his forehead is still prominent when he is 32.
  • Spinning Paper: Done with newspapers covering Smith's arrest. Here the camera zooms in not on the headlines, but on the mastheads of the papers: showing that story is getting national coverage.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Gus always puts his sunglasses on before he kills someone. This includes the hits he carries out at night, such as Gunther and Gela.
  • The Syndicate: By the time Tolly identifies the other three men who killed his father, they are high-ranking members of a crime syndicate that controls vice across much of the country.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: At age 14, Tolly is roaming the streets after midnight and rolling drunks.
  • Would Harm a Child/Would Hit a Girl: Connors' enforcer Gus has no issues with harming either women or children. He knocks Cuddles out before he goes to kill her (although he is stopped by Tolly), and murders Menkin's young daughter Jenny by running her over with his car.
  • You Killed My Father: Fourteen-year-old Tolly Devlin and his mother-figure Sandy see four hoods beat his father to death. Tolly vows to avenge his father's death. Tolly becomes a criminal and gets himself sent to prison so that he can get close to the one perpetrator he recognized when his father was being beaten. On his prison deathbed, Tolly manipulates the names of the other 3 killers from him, only to discover the remaining 3 killers have risen to the top of the crime syndicate. This does not stop his quest for vengeance.