Black Legion is a 1937 American crime drama #film, directed by Archie Mayo, with a script by Abem Finkel and William Wister Haines based on an original story by producer Robert Lord. The film stars Humphrey Bogart, Dick Foran, Erin O’Brien-Moore and Ann Sheridan.
The Infamous historic Black Legion of the 1930s in Michigan, a white vigilante group. A third of its members lived in Detroit, which had also been a center of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s.
The plot is based on the May 1935 kidnapping and murder in Detroit of Charles A. Poole, a Works Progress Administration organizer. Twelve men were tried, 11 convicted of his murder; all were sentenced to life. Authorities prosecuted another 37 men for related crimes; they were also convicted and sentenced to prison, breaking up the Legion. Columbia Pictures had made Legion of Terror (1936) based on the same case.
Black Legion was praised by critics for its dramatization of a dark social phenomenon. It was one of several films of this period in opposition to fascist & racist organizations.
Having followed Bogart’s breakthrough in The Petrified Forest (1936), a number of reviewers commented that Bogart’s performance should lead to his becoming a major star. Warner Bros. did not give the film any special treatment, however, promoting it and Bogart in their standard fashion. Stardom did come with High Sierra in 1941.
Frank Taylor works in a Midwestern factory and expects to receive a job promotion that has become available. When he is passed over in favor of hard-working Polish immigrant Joe Dombrowski, Taylor joins the Black Legion, a secret organization that drives away immigrants & racial minorities through violent means. Dressed in black robes, Taylor and the Black Legion go on a torchlight raid, driving Dombrowski and his family from their home.
With Dombrowski gone, Taylor receives the promotion, but when the Black Legion leadership forces him to spend time recruiting new members, Taylor is demoted in favor of his Irish neighbor, Mike Grogan. That night, the Black Legion attacks Grogan.
Taylor’s co-worker and friend, Ed Jackson, who is married to Grogan’s daughter, suspects Taylor is connected to the attacks on immigrants.
Jackson mentions his concerns to Taylor’s wife, Ruth, When he responds to her with violence, Ruth leaves him. As his Black Legion activities and drinking increases, Taylor loses his job & begins a relationship with Pearl Danvers, a woman of ill repute.
Jackson goes to see Taylor to express concern. A drunken Taylor tells Jackson about his secret life with the violent Black Legion.
Afraid that his slip-of-the-tongue might prompt Jackson to go to the police, Taylor tells the Black Legion leadership what happened. The leadership orders Taylor to capture and execute Jackson.
Unlike the Black Legion’s other victims, Jackson is unafraid and threatens to go to the police. When Jackson tries to escape, Taylor panics and shoots him. Taylor is arrested for Jackson’s murder. Ruth returns for Taylor’s trial to support him.
The lawyer for the Black Legion threatens Taylor’s wife and son to stop him from implicating the hate organization, but filled with self-loathing, Taylor tells the truth in court. All of the members of the Black Legion are sentenced to life in prison for Jackson’s murder.
Black Legion went into production in late August 1936. Many of the details about the Legion portrayed in the film, such as the initiation oath and the confessions in the trial scenes, were based on known facts about the historic organization. Because United States libel laws had recently been broadened in scope by court rulings, Warner Bros. underplayed some aspects of the group’s political activities to avoid legal repercussion.
The Ku Klux Klan sued Warner Bros. for patent infringement for the film’s use of a patented Klan insignia: a white cross on a red background with a black square. A judge threw out the case.
TV Guide gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, calling it “A grim, often brutal film”, while criticizing Bogart’s performance as being unsympathetic and Sheridan’s role as “thankless”.
It was one of a series of anti-fascist films in this period that addressed the dangers to society from groups that opposed immigrants (especially Catholics and Jews), Asians, and blacks, showing that fascism and racism resulted in similar “crimes against humanity.”
The Black Legion: Where Vets And The Klan Met…
Legion of Terror 1936 film by (Charles C. Coleman)
Black Legion (1937) Trailer:
Three The Hard Way (1974) – Trailer HD 1080p… via #blaxploit_site #Blaxploitation #Movie #Flint #Detroit #Water #Crisis #WAROnWater