Underground

Anthony Asquith's working-class love story set in a thoroughly modern London landscape angered critics who preferred their working-class protagonists to be salt-of-the-earth Cockneys, not independent young ladies with jobs in department stores who travel by Tube. They even criticized the German-influenced lighting schemes from imported expert Karl Fischer. The film was ahead of its time, and now we praise those very elements for which it was criticized. Asquith's screenplay is a simple tale of light and dark. Two men compete for the affections of beautiful Elissa Landi. One (Brian Aherne) is a pleasant, upwardly mobile young man, the other (Cyril McLaglen) a dangerous philanderer in an abusive relationship with a seamstress (Norah Baring). Watch for a trademark Asquith shot in the pub sequence, where we see the two fighting men in a smashed mirror. The contemporary detail is fascinating for modern audiences. And anyone who has observed the strange etiquette of the London Underground will notice that little has changed.

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