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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:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 January 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La legión negra See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$235,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

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 »

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

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

 
Graphic Study of Nativist Violence
13 October 2005 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

At the time it came out Black Legion came from the B Picture Unit at Warner Brothers. Some of the players in it became A list stars later on. Nevertheless this was playing the second half of double features when first released. But it made a tremendous impact and viewing it almost 70 years later, still makes an impact.

Warner Brothers as the working class studio was the only one who could have made a film like Black Legion. Working class stiff Humphrey Bogart gets passed over for a promotion at a job, losing it to Polish American Henry Brandon. This makes him ripe for the propaganda of a nativist crew of nightriders who call themselves The Black Legion.

Another co-worker Joe Sawyer gets Bogart to join with a whole lot of bad consequences for just about every principal player in the cast.

Since this film was about ordinary people it had a great message to tell. We've had nativist outbreaks in America through out our history. The Twenties and Thirties with groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Black Legion were particularly bad. Bad economic times usually bring out either the best or the worst in people.

Humphrey Bogart is joined by a whole bunch of people from his film debut in The Petrified Forest. Joe Sawyer, Dick Foran, Paul Harvey, Eddie Acuff, it must have seemed like a reunion film. For me this has always been Joe Sawyer's career role for the screen. In The Petrified Forest he was one of Bogey's gang. Here he's the evil influence on Bogart, a nice reversal. He had a similar part in San Quentin.

Dick Foran is the Mercutio/Benvolio part here, the good friend to Bogart. He was actually a bigger name than Bogey at the time this was made, as he was starring in a bunch singing cowboy films for Warner Brothers. This was one of the few times he was show he could do more than he was usually given.

Films back then had a whole lot of stern father figures like Lionel Barrymore and Lewis Stone who could deliver lectures like no other. Capping this film is Samuel S. Hinds as a trial judge telling the Black Legion defendants what Americanism and the Bill of Rights is all about. Words to live by still.


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