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Black Legion (1937)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 30 January 1937 (USA)
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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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Erin O'Brien-Moore ...
Ruth Taylor
...
Betty Grogan
Helen Flint ...
Pearl Danvers
Joe Sawyer ...
Cliff Moore (as Joseph Sawyer)
Clifford Soubier ...
Mike Grogan
Alonzo Price ...
Alf Hargrave
Paul Harvey ...
Billings
...
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 »
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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

The film was inspired by a real case involving a racist/nativist organization called The Black Legion in Michigan, in which a WPA worker was murdered. See more »

Goofs

The movie end credits list the name of the character played by Helen Flint as "Pearl Davis" but throughout the movie - particularly during her courtroom testimony - her character is referred to as "Pearl Danvers." 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 »


Soundtracks

Fair and Warmer
(1934) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played when Frank turns on the radio at home
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A good one
30 March 2002 | by (California) – See all my reviews

Humphrey Bogart is first-rate in this thinly disguised story of the Ku Klux Klan and how it plays on the fears and prejudices of the poor and uneducated (and how it's run by the well-to-do and educated, a point often missed by reviewers). Bogart plays a factory worker who was expecting a promotion, only to see it go to a "foreigner" (in this case, a Pole--and, by implication, a Jew, which is where the Klan gets involved). Angry, resentful and worried about his future, Bogart gets caught up in a racist, Klan-like group called the Black Legion, which, in the manner of all fundamentalist right-wing terrorist groups, proclaims its patriotism and its "defense of God and country" against "dirty foreigners." The interesting thing about this film is that it really doesn't blame Bogart's character for what eventually happens; he's just a pawn in the political agenda of the right-wing business and political interests who actually control the group. Warner Bros. was known for its muckraking films, and this is one of its better ones. It took guts for Warners to make this type of picture during this particular period in American history; there was a strong resurgence of Ku Klux Klan activity all over the country--there was even a Klan parade, with thousands of hooded marchers, that passed directly in front of the White House in Washington, DC--and lynchings and racial murders were skyrocketing, especially in the South. While maybe not as strong as some would have liked, the picture still radiates the Warner Bros. passion for the underdog, and they did a good job here. Strong performances by the principals, tight direction by Archie Mayo and the usual Warner Bros. grit make for a first-rate film. Highly recommended.


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