Thursday, November 08, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! EYES OF THE UNDERWORLD (1942) starring Richard Dix and Lon Chaney Jr.

Onetime leading hunk Richard Dix plays the much loved chief of police in a mid-sized town he had pretty much rid of bad boys, well 'cept for the stolen auto and tire rackets that have sprung up since the advent of World War II rationing and all that needless hooey that was created to stir up the patriotic sacrifice in us rubes. Turns out that, behind the strong yet sensitive exterior which has made him one of the most loved men in town, Dix was once a convict serving time for pilfering pennies from the bank he was working at! Of course in no way would he want the town nor his goony young son to know about his less 'n exemplary past 'n why should they since this guy, for all practical purposes, IS Dick Tracy and Superman all rolled up into one!

In order to keep their chop shop biz roarin' without any needless hassles from the law, the gangsters decide to have one of their guys (played by Marc Lawrence, who o'er the years sure got a lot of tough guy roles like this!) get busted, ask to talk to Dix alone in his office and trick him into going along with a planned break out in exchange for Lawrence blabbin' about havin' known him inna Big House. Dix doesn't go along with it, but thanks to the actual break out which does occur as well as a secretly recorded and edited recording of the conversation the bloke comes off lookin' as if he is indeed was in cahoots and well, you can guess who was tossed into the hoosegow faster'n you can say pass the Vaseline!

There's a lot goin' for this Universal quickie that makes EYES OF THE UNDERWORLD a hefty slice of early-forties theatrical enjoyment, that is unless that zoot suiter who hasn't washed his hair in months decides to sit right next to you. One of 'em is Lon Chaney Jr. as Benny, Dix's chauffeur who isn't beneath doin' a li'l TORTURIN' in order to extract information outta some grimy underling. Pretty good considering how I thought he was gonna somehow slip into his Lenny mode halfway through the pic!

Heck, I even liked future perennial Tee-Vee type Don Porter as this investigator who comes off as a slick bad guy but he's supposed to be good even though you still kinda hate him even when his wholesomeness is revealed because hey, it is one of those twisto plot-addling devices that work well in these crankers. And hey, Wendy Barrie as the ever-faithful secretary who sticks by her boss probably because she has a hotcha thing for older men works. She's totally un-woman-like true, but ya gotta admit that her take on the female gender sure beats who's goin' 'round these days!

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