Romance of the Underworld. 1928. USA. Directed by Irving Cummings. With Mary Astor, John Boles, Robert Elliott. 68 min.
Although he’s best remembered for his gaudy Technicolor musicals of the 1940s (Down Argentine Way, That Night in Rio), the director Irving Cummings specialized in moody urban dramas during the silent era, among them this gritty fable featuring Mary Astor as a country girl lured into a life of prostitution in the big city. Upstanding businessman John Boles promises to take her away from all this, but then her former pimp turns up with blackmail on his mind. This 1928 film was released with a Movietone score and dialogue sequences, though only the silent version, preserved by MoMA, survives. Piano accompaniment by Makia Matsumura.