review for King of the Underworld on AllMovie

King of the Underworld (1939)
by Hans J. Wollstein review

A fairly engrossing account of a small-town doctor forced to operate on a Big City gangster, the only four-year-old Dr. Socrates got the B-movie treatment in King of the Underworld, with Humphrey Bogart replacing Barton MacLane as the gangster and Kay Francis, of all people, taking over from Paul Muni as the troubled medico. Unfortunately, the production was assigned to producer Bryan Foy who summarily turned it into pulp fiction melodrama. Although seemingly a better choice to play the gangster than MacLane, Humphrey Bogart is guilty of overacting like never before, or since, and the denouement is closer to burlesque than compelling drama.