A gritty tale of vengeance in which Robertson feigns loyalty to both the government (a federal crime commission) and organized crime in order to kill the men who murdered his father. As a boy, Robertson was orphaned when his father was beaten to death in an alley by four men. Having
witnessed the beating, Robertson vowed to find the men. Kay, a friend of the boy's father, does her best to mother the boy, but he soons winds up in prison. While behind bars Robertson learns that one of the four men, Brocco, is on his deathbed in the hospital infirmary. Persistence pays off, and
Robertson learns the names of the remaining three--Dubov, Milton, and Gruener--who have by now become big shots in an underworld organization known as National Projects. When Robertson is released from prison, he calls on Kay only to find that her bar is being run by Dubov. Dubov knows Robertson
is the dead man's son but admires his loyalty and makes a place for him in the organization. In the meantime, Robertson meets and falls in love with gang moll Dorn. A federal agent, Gates, who is investigating the underworld, meets with Robertson and persuades him to help the government with its
case. By pitting the underworld against the law, Robertson raises the suspicions of mob boss Emhardt, who can no longer be sure of the loyalty of his men. To further disrupt the mob, Robertson arranges with Gates to doctor some files on the supposedly loyal criminals. Emhardt then orders the men
killed by his top assassin, Rust. Having avenged his father's death, Robertson bids farewell to Gates. Gates, however, still wants to pin Emhardt and thereby completely topple the mob. Robertson, who has finally agreed to marry Dorn, holds no loyalty to Gates and isn't easily convinced. But when
Emhardt orders Robertson to kill Dorn, another sort of loyalty is called into play. Rather than kill Dorn, Robertson drowns Emhardt in his penthouse pool. Robertson cannot escape his fate, however, and is gunned down by Rust. He dies in Dorn's arms in the same alley where his father was killed.
For director Fuller, Robertson is the ultimate "Fuller hero." He is a man alone, waging his private war against an enemy, loyal only to himself. His entire battle against Dubov, Milton, and Gruener is simply a war against three men. He is not fighting to clean up American society, as illustrated
in his hesitation in killing Emhardt. He has nothing against Emhardt. Not surprisingly, in view of Fuller's interest in war and the military, UNDERWORLD U.S.A. is filled with a militaristic flavor. This personal war-waging is a key factor in the understanding of Fuller, not only in this picture,
but in films as diverse as RUN OF THE ARROW (1957), PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (1953), and even WHITE DOG (1983).
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A gritty tale of vengeance in which Robertson feigns loyalty to both the government (a federal crime commission) and organized crime in order to kill the men who murdered his father. As a boy, Robertson was orphaned when his father was beaten to death in a… (more)