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Black Legion (1937)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  30 January 1937 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,657 users  
Reviews: 35 user | 16 critic

When a hard-working machinist loses a promotion to a Polish-born worker, he is seduced into joining the secretive Black Legion, which intimidates foreigners through violence.

Directors:

(as Archie L. Mayo) , (uncredited)

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Title: Black Legion (1937)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Dick Foran ...
Erin O'Brien-Moore ...
Ruth Taylor
...
Betty Grogan
Helen Flint ...
Pearl Davis
Joe Sawyer ...
Cliff Moore (as Joseph Sawyer)
Clifford Soubier ...
Mike Grogan
Alonzo Price ...
Alf Hargrave
Paul Harvey ...
Billings
Dickie Jones ...
Buddy Taylor
Samuel S. Hinds ...
Judge (as Samuel Hinds)
Addison Richards ...
Prosecuting Attorney
Eddie Acuff ...
Metcalf
Dorothy Vaughan ...
Mrs. Grogan
...
Tommy Smith
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Storyline

Frank Taylor joins the "pro-American" Black Legion when he loses his chance at foremanship to a foreign-born man. The organization is a sort of Ku Klux Klan in the industrial sphere. Frank has troubles with his wife over this and causes serious trouble when he tells all to his best friend Ed Jackson. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 January 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La legión negra  »

Box Office

Budget:

$235,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Frank Nelson. See more »

Goofs

When the Legion trusses Mike Grogan to the tree branch before flogging him, in the shot from the front both of his arms are fully extended from the branch. However, in the shot from behind, his right wrist is strapped to the branch with his arm bent at the crook of the elbow. See more »

Quotes

Cliff Moore: Read!
Frank Taylor: [reading the Black Legion oath] In the name of God and the Devil, one to reward and the other to punish, and by the powers of light and darkness, good and evil, here under the black arch of Heaven's avenging symbol, I pledge and consecrate my heart, my brain, my body, and my limbs and swear by all the powers of Heaven and Hell to devote my life to the obedience of my superiors and that no danger or peril shall deter me from executin' dere orders. That I will exert every possible means in ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

References Jailbreak (1936) See more »

Soundtracks

I've Been Working on the Railroad
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung a cappella by Helen Flint and Humphrey Bogart
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A film with a mission
1 January 2007 | by (England) – See all my reviews

I'm not sure "The Black Legion" is quite the searing issue movie it probably wanted to be; it bears more of a relationship to the post-war Ministry of Information documentaries in Britain (which were often very good). But considered purely as popular entertainment, it's pretty striking, with Bogart's performance hovering just this side of 'over the top' -- an amazingly youthful-looking Bogart, in comparison to his later starring roles...

The issue of anti-immigrant prejudice has of course taken on new life of late -- if ever it really left -- and Bogart portrays convincingly how the man on the street can become sucked into an otherwise preposterous world of blood-curdling oaths and death's-head regalia, at first through petty personal grudge and then through the surge of power that comes with group action. He depicts with equal conviction the disintegration of the man who finds himself pinned between that same power and what really matters in his life, and Erin O'Brien-Moore is excellent in the role of the wife whom another actress might have represented as too perfect to be true.

And the anti-feelgood ending still comes as a shock, after all these years. Justice is even-handed but implacable.

The message isn't always terribly subtle, the music likewise, and the acting occasionally veers a little too far into bravura territory, vindicated by a reassuring speech to the effect that actually, no matter what you may have seen in this movie, Americans are inherently nice, tolerant people (just in case the audience might feel bad about themselves, presumably) -- but it's a brave attempt at covering contemporary events, despite the standard disclaimer, and still stands up pretty well as a film in its own right seventy years later. To a modern viewer, the real period piece is the fascinating depiction of a live radio news broadcast, complete with a large cast of supporting actors voicing all reported dialogue with split-second teamwork, and a conductor and full instrumental section behind the microphones to provide the swell of background music as required!


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