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The Dark Horse (1932)

 -  Comedy  -  16 June 1932 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 504 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 5 critic

Zachary Hicks is nominated at the Progressive party's convention even though he has little chance of winning the governorship. Kay suggests the party bosses hire Hal Blake (whom she loves) ... See full summary »


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Title: The Dark Horse (1932)

The Dark Horse (1932) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Complete credited cast:
Warren William ...
Hal Samson Blake
Kay Russell
Guy Kibbee ...
Zachary Hicks
Vivienne Osborne ...
Maybelle Blake, Hal's ex-wife
Frank McHugh ...
Sam Hardy ...
Mr. Black
Harry Holman ...
Mr. Jones
Charles Sellon ...
Mr. Green
Robert Emmett O'Connor ...
Sheriff (as Robert E. O'Connor)
Berton Churchill ...
William A. Underwood
Robert Warwick ...
Mr. Clark


Zachary Hicks is nominated at the Progressive party's convention even though he has little chance of winning the governorship. Kay suggests the party bosses hire Hal Blake (whom she loves) as campaign manager. Hal is in jail for falling behind in his alimony payments to Maybelle, but Kay convinces the politicians to seem him in prison, Impressed with the speech they hear him deliver to a cellmate, the committee pays Hal's fine and back alimony payments. Hal takes on the campaign and several marital arrangements. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

16 June 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Dark Horse  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Hal Samson Blake: He's the dumbest human being I ever saw. Every time he opens his mouth he subtracts from the sum total of human knowledge.
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Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here
(1904) (uncredited)
Music by Theodore Morse and Arthur Sullivan
Played at the convention
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User Reviews

Provocative Premise That Fails to Follow Through
6 September 2008 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Despite obvious limitations, this 1932 programmer is as perceptive and provocative as many of the more modern-day political films. What this minor movie underlines so importantly is the ease and appeal of electing an intellectual simpleton (Guy Kibbee) to high office (governor) for partisan purposes. Just wrap him in the appropriate populist symbolism, and he's a shoo-in. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't show how much money can be made from having an unquestioning dolt in office.

What it does show is the ease with which clever manipulators can say the right words and pander to an uncritical electorate. Consider the irony of both party candidates (Progressive Kibbee and Conservative Churchill) speaking from the same plagiarized page of Lincoln's soaring campaign rhetoric. What then separates the two if the speeches themselves are indistinguishable. What this comically made point suggests is that it's rhetoric rather than policy that's uppermost in winning the electorate. Comic or not, the point is still worth pondering.

Here the master manipulator is Warren William in a bravura performance-- too bad this dynamic actor is almost totally forgotten. Unfortunately, Guy Kibbee goes over the top as the good-natured simpleton, while Bette Davis shows both fire and flair in a very early role as William's office girl-friend. And in an unheralded albeit sleeper role is Vivenne Osborne as William's shrewish ex-wife, who's every guy's nightmare and enough to undo the whole institution of marriage.

Reviewer Hausner is correct that the focus shifts half-way through from Kibbee as governor to William's marital woes. It's almost as if the writers didn't know where to go with Kibbee's character once he's in office. Too bad-- there's real potential for incisive comment there. Anyway, we know the film precedes the deadening Production Code of 1934 since violation of the Mann Act turns up as a prominent plot device, ie. transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes, intended to stop what was then known as "white slavery" or forced prostitution. I don't recall mention of this risqué law any time during the 30-year Code era.

All in all, the movie is fitfully funny and interesting, but unfortunately fails to follow through on a fascinating premise.

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