image from the film Underworld

image from Josef von Sternberg's film UNDERWORLD

One of the first and greatest of the American gangster films, Underworld has all the elements of the genre: gritty mis-en-scene in the Chicago underworld, explosive violence, and a love triangle that’s also a contest between law and lawlessness.

It’s a masterwork by Josef von Sternberg, better known for his high-style collaborations with Marlene Dietrich but just as much in control of his medium here. Mixing his usual dense visual compositions with quick-cut action sequences and dazzling montage, Sternberg takes the elements of former reporter Ben Hecht’s original screenplay and turns them into a drama that’s larger than life.

“Concerned not with social problems but with the forces of destiny and human emotions... With an economy of means, [Sternberg] creates a world of expression compacted into a few gestures and details.” (Museum of Modern Art)

The film will be accompanied by an original score performed live by the Anvil Orchestra.

The Anvil Orchestra consists of Roger C. Miller (keyboard) and Terry Donahue (accordion, saw & more) of the widely popular Alloy Orchestra that regularly performed at Cornell Cinema over the course of 20 years (1999 - 2019). The Anvil Orchestra will continue the tradition of writing and performing original scores for silent films.

Cosponsored with the Cornell Council on the Arts and the Wharton Studio Museum.

more info at this website: theanvilorchestra.com