After the non-release of the 1926 "A Woman of the Sea," it took a while before Josef von Sternberg had another chance with a film project. In 1927, "Underworld" became that breakout film, but it had to make it off the shelf first.
Paramount thought the film would be a 'flop' and only released it at one New York theater, after cooling in the film vault for a while. The film's "expressionistic" style was just too modern for the times, but that one showing in that New York theater give the film its chance, as it found its audience and became a hit. It won Ben Hecht his first Oscar for original screen story.
In this article about the film it says: "Sternberg's obsession with love triangles (reaching apotheosis in his later pix with Marlene Dietrich) manifests itself here first."
If Chaplin released "A Woman of the Sea," von Sternberg's "obsession with love triangles" would have been seen in this picture. While there were four people involved in the main story, there was a love triangle formed around the two sisters and the rich writer from the city.
In studying this film, "A Woman of the Sea" was not the best title, since the story is more about two sisters wanting a life other than being a fisherman's wife.
"Underworld" has been given a new live musical score. Check film festival listings for future showings. Link to a November 4th showing.