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Black Legion (1937)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 30 January 1937 (USA)
Trailer
1:42 | Trailer
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:

Archie Mayo (as Archie L. Mayo), Michael Curtiz (uncredited)

Writers:

Abem Finkel (screen play), William Wister Haines (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Humphrey Bogart ... Frank Taylor
Dick Foran ... Ed Jackson
Erin O'Brien-Moore ... Ruth Taylor
Ann Sheridan ... Betty Grogan
Helen Flint ... Pearl Danvers
Joe Sawyer ... Cliff Moore (as Joseph Sawyer)
Clifford Soubier 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
John Litel ... 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

Taglines:

BROTHERS OF BUTCHERY! Their insignia...a cowardly hood! Their sign...a torturing lash! Their pass-word... a foul curse! Their grip...the clasp of death! (Print Ad- Fort Dodge Messenger-Chronicle, ((Fort Dodge, Iowa)) 9 July 1937)

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie that Betty and Ed go to see early in the film, "All For Love", is not an actual movie. However, the posters for other films outside the theater are for actual Warner Brothers pictures: Bengal Tiger (1936), Jailbreak (1936), Public Enemy's Wife (1936), and The Big Noise (1936). See more »

Goofs

After Bogie is served more beer and before he drinks any of it, the level in the mug rises. See more »

Quotes

Frank Taylor: How yuh doin', Ed?
Ed Jackson: Oh, terrible! I feel like a drill was driving right through the top of my head.
Frank Taylor: It might be a good idea to let out some of dat beer you slopped up last night.
Ed Jackson: Aw, quit riding me, will yuh?
Frank Taylor: Oh, I ain't even started on you yet. C'mon, let's eat.
Ed Jackson: No, Frank, I couldn't.
Frank Taylor: Oh, come on. Do you good. You gotta eat.
[He snaps his finger]
Frank Taylor: I got just the thing to straighten you out.
Ed Jackson: Yeah? What is it?
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The names of all characters -- the characters themselves-- the story-- all incidents and institutions portrayed in this production are fictitious-- and no identification with actual persons, living or deceased, is intended or should be inferred. See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Star Is Born (1954) See more »

Soundtracks

Fancy Meeting You
(1936) (uncredited)
Music by Harold Arlen
Played on the radio at Jim's Place
See more »

User Reviews

 
Based on rarely discussed history
28 June 2017 | by amy-lesemannSee all my reviews

Most of the previous reviews get it right about Black Legion; it's not Bogart's best by a long shot. But here's the catch: it's not a "thinly veiled" swipe at the KKK. It's about the actual, real-life Black Legion. I know; you've never heard of it. Neither did I, until I was cleaning out the stack of magazines in our Indiana farmhouse. Let's hear it for hoarding, because there it was, as large as one of those Life Magazines - a profile on ...the Black Legion.

I was horrified, but it did exist:

"The Black Legion was a secret vigilante terrorist group and a white supremacist organization in the Midwestern United States that splintered from the Ku Klux Klan and operated during the Great Depression of the 1930s. According to historian Rick Perlstein, the FBI estimated its membership "at 135,000, including a large number of public officials, possibly including Detroit's police chief." In 1936 the group was suspected of assassinating as many as 50 people according to the Associated Press.[1]

The white paramilitary group was founded in the 1920s by William Shepard in east central Ohio in the Appalachian region, as a security force named the Black Guard in order to protect Ku Klux Klan officers.[2][3] The Legion became active in chapters throughout Ohio. One of its self-described leaders, Virgil "Bert" Effinger, lived and worked in Lima, Ohio."

So why is there so little in our history books about it? It was a relatively short lived hate group, but it showed up in other places: "Hollywood, radio and the press responded to the lurid nature of the Legion with works that referred to it. Legion of Terror (1936) starred Ward Bond and Bruce Cabot, and was based on this group. Black Legion (1937), a feature film, starred Humphrey Bogart. True Detective Mysteries, a radio show based on the magazine of the same title, broadcast an episode on April 1, 1937 that referred directly to the Black Legion and Poole's murder. The radio show The Shadow, with Orson Welles in the title role, broadcast an episode on March 20, 1938, entitled "The White Legion"; it was based loosely on the Black Legion. Malcolm X and Alex Haley collaborated on the leader's The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965); he noted the Legion as being active in Lansing, Michigan where his family lived. Malcolm X was six when his father died in 1931; he believed the father was killed by the Black Legion. The TV series History's Mysteries presented an episode about the group entitled "Terror in the Heartland: The Black Legion" (1998).

I realize I haven't written much about the movie; others have done that well. But we need to accept that this... is based on real life.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 January 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Black Legion See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$235,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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