Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On Screen -- Black Legion (1937)

Bogart and Helen Flint
"Black Legion" is a very powerful film with a topic that's as sensitive today as it was during production of the film over 70 years ago.  The story begins in a machine shop in a typical American town in that era.  A promotion leaves a position open for a plant foreman and one of the workers "Frank Taylor" thinks he'll get the job due to his seniority.  Frank goes home and plans a big celebration with his wife "Ruth" and his son "Buddy".  But when the position goes to "Joe Dombrowski" who developed a device for the company, and who also happens to be an immigrant, Frank becomes very displeased. 

When "Cliff" one of Frank's coworkers notices how upset he is, he asks Frank if he would like to join the "Black Legion", a Klan type organization whose purpose is to rid the country of immigrants.  The gang, with Frank as a member, burns down the Dombrowski home and run Joe and his father out of town.  The thugs all celebrate and Frank gets his foreman position, but then loses it due to the time he wastes on the job recruiting for the organization.  The gang then systematically disposes of anyone who crosses their path.  When one confrontation leads to Frank panicking and killing one of his coworkers "Ed Jackson" because he knew too much, things get serious for Frank in a hurry.

Humphrey Bogart stars as "Frank Taylor", B movie idol and crooner Dick Foran as "Ed Jackson", Erin O'Brien-Moore as Frank's wife "Ruth", and Dickie Jones as Frank's son "Buddy".  Ann Sheridan also costars as "Betty Grogan" and Joseph Sawyer as "Cliff".

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