Rick Leland makes no secret of the fact he has no loyalty to his home country after he is court-marshaled out of the army and boards a Japanese ship for the Orient in late 1941. But has ... See full summary »
Struggling artist Geoffrey Carroll meets Sally whilst on holiday in the country. A romance develops but he doesn't tell her he's already married. Suffering from mental illness, Geoffreyy ... See full summary »
Ex-convict Danny Kean decides to become honest as a photographer for a paper. He falls in love with Patricia, the daughter of the policeman who arrested him. Mr Nolan, her father, doesn't ... See full summary »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Frank lights a cigarette outside the pharmacy after his wife and child leave, an advertisement for Pabst Beer is visible behind him, but the "P" and the "T" have clearly been covered with white-out. See more »
A newspaper clipping names Clifford Soubier's character as Michael F. Grogan. However the letter earlier refers to him as Michael P. Grogan. See more »
Well, what's the matter? You afraid?
So, you're afraid! Maybe they better change the name of your outfit from the Black Legion to the Yellow Legion.
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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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