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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)

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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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


[repeated line]
Zachary Hicks: Yes...and, then again, no.
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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

"He's got both the wets and the drys behind him…"
7 January 2012 | by (Minnesota) – See all my reviews

The progressive party convention has been deadlocked for four days. Then a delegate has an idea: Why don't we nominate a dark horse to split our rival's votes and then squeeze our candidate in? Thus is born the gubernatorial candidacy of Zachary Hicks (Guy Kibbee), a sleepy and footsore conventioneer who soon inspires one of his own supporters to argue in his support, "Now there's no use to quarrel, gentlemen….It isn't the first time a fool was nominated to a political office."

The cast is excellent in this political satire that makes no pretense at being a tale of redemption or morality. Bette Davis is sharp as a party secretary and operative who is, as much as anyone, the brains behind the party's workings. Warren William is the political king-maker for hire who promotes Kibbee ruthlessly and brilliantly—and yet can't seem to quite escape from his own ex-wife, played saucily by Vivienne Osborne. Frank McHugh is William's loyal assistant, steady as always. Kibbee is possibly a little dumber than necessary, but very entertaining.

The weak spot in the story is the romantic subplot between the two leads—Warren William is impressive but he's all talk; Bette Davis appreciates his talent for glibness but has to keep walking out on him, for good reasons. Will he eventually convince her of his sincerity? Well, not really. Will he instead wear down her resistance? Well…. When this kind of plot is done best, we in the audience are won over by the wooer along with the object of his affections. In this case, I'm afraid I was rooting for Bette to run fast. –In other words, the romantic subplot isn't quite convincing, and is thus somewhat distracting. But oh well—both Bette and Warren talk fast and shoot penetrating glances all over the place.

Among a full cast of schemers and liars, Vivienne Osborne as William's wicked ex-wife perhaps comes off best: she at least is honest about what she wants, and almost becomes a likable character at one point. Frank McHugh, too, is very good in a role where he's constantly squeezed in uncomfortably among other people's problems and survives by his wits and dexterity.

All of the politicians in the film are atrocious hacks--schemers and backstabbers without exception. Politics has certainly come a long way over the decades!

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