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The Subterraneans (1960)

A love story between two misunderstood new bohemians who don't even understand themselves.


Ranald MacDougall


Jack Kerouac (novel), Robert Thom




Cast overview, first billed only:
Leslie Caron ... Mardou Fox
George Peppard ... Leo Percepied
Janice Rule ... Roxanne
Roddy McDowall ... Yuri Gligoric
Anne Seymour ... Charlotte Percepied
Jim Hutton ... Adam Moorad
Scott Marlowe ... Julien Alexander
Arte Johnson ... Arial Lavalerra
Ruth Storey Ruth Storey ... Analyst
Bert Freed ... Bartender
Gerry Mulligan Gerry Mulligan ... Reverend Joshua Hoskins
Carmen McRae ... Herself
André Previn ... Himself
Shelly Manne ... Himself
Red Mitchell ... Himself


Leo is a 28 year old writer who doesn't have any friends because he finds normal people too shallow and so he hasn't found love. After an arguing with his mother he leaves into the night where he accidentally meets a group of poets, artists and philosophers who drag him to a subterranean bar where Yuri, a vagabond poet, introduces him to Mardou a beautiful blonde girl. Leo goes with the young beatnik group to every subterranean bar in San Francisco. Immediately Leo and Mardou fall in love with each other and he promises her a life together forever but their love starts to strangle Leo's ability to write. One night, out of rage, Leo snaps and has an affair with Roxanne. Mardou disappears for four days because she thinks Leo is very childish, which takes Leo to heavy drinking until she re-appears with the news that she's pregnant and they declare their love with each other by leaving the new bohemian group to be alone and start a normal life together. Written by Rodrigo Borges

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »


Filmed where it happened amid the sights and sounds of San Francisco. Told to the rhythm of modern jazz. See more »




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Release Date:

23 June 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A földalattiak See more »

Filming Locations:

San Francisco, California, USA


Box Office


$931,724 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Dorothy Dandridge and Diahann Carroll were considered for the role of Mardou. See more »


Charlotte Percepied: You don't look well for a famous athlete.
Leo Percepied: I'm not a famous athlete either, Mother!
Charlotte Percepied: You won a medal in the Olympics, didn't you?
Leo Percepied: That was 8 years ago, and 4 years ago I hocked it!
See more »


Coffee Time
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Arthur Freed
Performed by Carmen McRae
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User Reviews

Great music but a one-dimensional caricature of the Beats
4 April 2006 | by JAtheDJSee all my reviews

I just viewed this film for the first time. Janice Rule and Leslie Caron are excellent given the superfluous material; George Peppard is stiff and unconvincing.

If you take this film literally, the Beats represented party-loving, self-serving hedonists, rebelling against society with no particular purpose. In fact, the Beats and their literature provided a needed counterpoint to the conformity and staid complacency of American life in the 1950s. They were the forerunners of the Hippies, for sure.

Despite a shallow story line, the film is of historical interest as to how Hollywood (and maybe mainstream America) viewed the Beat generation in 1960, when the film was released.

The music is absolutely marvelous - it's great to see and hear jazz giants like Gerry Mulligan (also in an acting role), Art Pepper, Art Farmer and Shelly Manne.

A true period piece, worth seeing - once.

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