|BLACK LEGION (director: Archie Mayo; screenwriters: story by Robert Lord, Abem Finkel, William Wister Haines; cinematographer: George Barnes; editor: Owen Marks; music: Bernhard Kaun; cast: Humphrey Bogart (Frank Taylor), Dick Foran (Ed Jackson), Erin O'Brien-Moore (Ruth Taylor), Ann Sheridan (Betty Grogan), Robert Barrat (Brown), Helen Flint (Pearl Davis), Joe Sawyer (Cliff Moore), Henry Brandon (Joe Dombrowski), Dickie Jones (Buddy Taylor), Charles Halton (Osgood); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Lord; Warner Bros.; 1937)|
|"A gripping social drama based on
the newspaper headlines of the day."
by Dennis Schwartz
gripping social drama based on the newspaper headlines
of the day. Director Archie Mayo ("Angel on my
Shoulder"/"A Night in Casablanca"/"Moontide") does a
nice job keeping things real. The story is
by Robert Lord. The taut screenplay is by Abem
Finkel and William Wister Haines.
Taylor (Humphrey Bogart) is a
hard-working and popular drill press operator in a
Midwestern factory, who loves his wife (Erin
O'Brien-Moore) and cheerful young boy (Dickie
Jones). When he doesn't get a promotion to foreman, as
expected, Frank becomes irritated. When the person
promoted is a deserving industrious Polish
immigrant, Joe Dombrowski (Henry
Brandon), it brings out Frank's dark side and he
questions why foreigners get jobs over so-called pure
white Americans. His bigotry connects him with fellow
unhappy worker Cliff (Joe Sawyer), who thinks likewise
about foreigners. Cliff introduces the disgruntled
worker to a secret hate group, the Black Legion,
wearing black robes as uniforms instead of the KKK's
white robes. Filled with hatred, Frank joins the
Legion and turns from a regular happy-go-lucky guy
into a monster attacking immigrants and burning down
their homes. His wife can't tolerate this and moves
out with the kid to her father's place. Things get
even more sticky when Frank goes on trial for killing
his best friend (Dick Foran), after fearing he will
inform on him, and when he sobers up it finally dawns
on him that he took a wrong turn with an evil group
and must find a way to redeem himself.
Sheridan has a thankless part of being Foran's wife,
where she is given no chance to develop her character.
This is an early starring role for the young Bogie,
where he makes the most of his unsympathetic part.
leaves the viewer with an earnest moral message about
intolerance. The B film was well-acted and its grim
message is still relevant today.
REVIEWED ON 2/16/2016 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ