BLACK LEGION

(1937)
With Humphrey Bogart, Dick Foran, Erin O'Brien-Moore, Ann Sheridan
Directed by Archie Mayo
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

     Or: "Bogey Joins the Klan"!

    You gotta hand it to Warner Brothers in the 1930s.  While other studios specialized in comedy, drama, spectacle and music, Warners cornered the market on social problem pictures.  In BLACK LEGION, one of Bogey's more memorable starring vehicles before his career took off, he plays a machine worker who resents the loss of a foreman position to a "foreigner" and so joins the title organization, an offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan. Before long, this devoted father, husband and all around good guy finds himself involved in house burnings, late-night floggings and worse. It's slightly melodramatic and clichéd around the edges, but Bogart is, perhaps surprisingly to some, sympathetic and believable as the small town guy just trying to get by and live the American dream.  His methods are deplorable, of course, but like so many Warner dramas, BLACK LEGION is the story of an average Joe who seems to find the answers to his life in some dark aspect of society only to see everything spiral out of control by the end of the picture.

    One of those films populated by a bevy of terrific character actors including Paul Harvey, Charles Halton, Samuel S. Hines,  Henry Brandon, as well as criminally underused Ann Sheridan. 3½- JB

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