MCMXXXIX I: King of the Underworld

King of the Underworld. Lewis Seiler. 1939.

Welcome to the first week of the 1939 movie blog. But first: Some food.

So tonight’s dish from Patricia Well’s Bistro Cooking (which I’m cooking my way through, semi-chronologically) is a chick pea salad. I’m not really all that enthusiastic about this one, because I’m seeing “onion” and “garlic” here, which I both love, but whenever she’s doing a dish with these ingredients, and they’re not cooked, the result is usually very… raw… But let’s see! Perhaps this is the one that’ll actually work.

So it’s these ingredients. The recipe specifies dried chick peas, which I thought I’d ordered, but I got pre-cooked hermetic ones. Well. Paper-and-alu ones.

So instead of soaking for a day, I’m just rinsing them and giving them a quick heating. Perhaps that’ll totally destroy the dish? I have no idea.

So then there’s the chopping, which I enjoy… five cloves of garlic, though… I reduced it to four, and it’s still a lot.

So then all the herbs and the garlic goes into the vinaigrette.

And then olives and onions.

The recipe said nothing about chopping the olives, so I’m leaving them whole.

Well, that doesn’t look too bad?

Unfortunately, it’s pretty much like I feared it would be: It tastes like raw garlic and raw onion with some chick peas. WHYYYYY

I’ll pop it into the fridge and have a nibble at it tomorrow. Perhaps it’ll mellow…

So it goes well with the movie.

[twenty minutes pass]

This movie makes me realise that I haven’t really seen many of Bogart’s early movies.

Like, at all. Looking at that list, I think the first movie of his I’ve seen is probably The Maltese Falcon, from 1941? But he had a career for over a decade before that? And he was busy! Several movies a year. Like… seven movies in 1937? I’m guessing those were not all leads.

Oh, hang on, I’ve seen Angels with Dirty Faces from 1938.

Anyway, he’s really chewing up the scenery here. I mean, it’s great, but it’s not as effortlessly cool as he became later…

The rest of the mooks: Eh.

I mean… look at them.

This is a very original movie: I don’t think anybody could have guessed where the plot was going.

But… the problem is that the plot didn’t go anywhere exciting. I mean, it’s interesting: Much of the movie is about the gangster getting his autobiography ghost-written. That’s original, for sure, but… it makes the stakes very low: Is the ghost-writer going to get killed or not? And how is the dame going to save him? OK, put like that, it does sound exciting, but it… not?

It’s fascinating how many people they put into each shot. All of those people are cops, but it’s the same in the gangster shots: Way more people than seem necessary.

And the woman (who’s a doctor) saves the day by ingenious means. It’s a very… 30s movie.

There’s a lot to like here, but it doesn’t quite gel for me.

Popular movies from this week:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
801 6.5 King of the Underworld
393 6.5 Devil’s Island
231 6.5 Stand Up and Fight
129 5.7 Pacific Liner
37 6.3 Long Shot
27 5.3 Water Rustlers
10 5.9 Disbarred

This blog post is part of the
1939 series


I hate choosing movies to watch; it’s just … better … to watch the
next scheduled one, so a schedule has to be created.

A few years back, I watched one movie per year from 1918 to 2018 (i.e, a century), and then last year I did a decade (the 1940s); one movie per month.

So what’s next!?!?

It’s one movie per week from some year or other, of course.

I was thinking of doing a year from the 80s, but looking at the candidate years, nothing really seemed that attractive when I have to choose 52 movies I haven’t seen before. So I googled “what’s the best year ever in movie history”, and several web pages said “1939”.

So I’m doing 1939.

I’m using the IMDB data, segmented by US release date:

This data isn’t available any more from IMDB, but I downloaded it before they closed off the release date er data.

So I’m basically watching the most popular movie (as voted by IMDB some time later) per week, so we’ll start with King of the Underworld.

And! I’m also continuing cooking from the Bistro Cooking book by Patricia Wells; one dish per movie should be just about right?

Yes, this is all just a pretext for forcing myself to clean up the kitchen more often: If I’m taking snaps of the kitchen I’ll have to get the rag out more often.

You’re welcome.

John King At Home

As we already know, this soup is under seasoned, so I asked you to send me the salt, and bear with me, you sent me the salt, and I added this salt to the soup and then, as we all know, I sent the salt back to you. Now, this means that my soup should have more seasoning, and we’ll soon be able to tell if this is a sufficient amount of seasoning, once I taste it.