The Black Legion

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Bogie is a shop foreman who is passed over for promotion and in a fit of pique joins a SECRET ORGANIZATION to get even with all them furriners comin’ in and takin’ ‘Murican jobs.

And of course it’s a thinly veiled Ku Klux Klan group that he’s joining.

This awareness-raising movie was made in 1937; KKK members had been leaving in droves for about 10 years by then, after its heyday in the late teens and early 20s, but the group was still powerful enough that the publicity for the movie claimed that there were repeated threats against the cast and the production company to stop making the film.

And how does it measure up, seventy years later?

Pretty darn well, actually. There is still the same kind of feeling in many parts of this country, that people who are different are not as good as ‘Americans’ and should not be allowed to work/succeed/have the benefits reserved for others. Still the same need for consciousness-raising, although this movie is old enough that probably only film buffs will see it, and of course our consciousnesses are right up there in the high places already…

The writing is good, as are the actors, and this is one of the best things I’ve seen Bogart in; his whole manner, from nice guy to disgruntled worker to gang member full of bravado to his horrified realization of what is happening, his part in it and the impossibility of getting out without danger to himself or his family, is amazing to watch.

Rent it or buy it, this one is worth your time.

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