Another Classic I Haven't Seen Yet #19 - Black Legion (1937)

“I’m sorry buddy, I can’t take you seriously with those robes on…”

This is hardly a classic. It’s pretty much a forgotten 30s social commentary “scare” film in the vein of Tell Your Children, but with a few key differences:
1) It starred Humphrey Bogart in an early role
2) Some scenes were shadow directed by Michael Curtiz
3) It was based off of real events which somehow are very topical nowadays – white nationalism and how it’s bad.

I found this because I’m a Bogart fan and Criterion Channel has a collection of early Bogart films. I’m glad I did. It was definitely trying to scare the daylights out of it’s viewers about how white nationalism is bad, and if America 82 years later didn’t have the same issues, I could see how this was a widely forgotten film.

Bogart is a factory worker who gets overlooked for a promotion, going to a Polish immigrant’s son instead. This leads Bogart’s character to join the Black Legion, an offshoot of the KKK, and thus down a path of destruction that leaves him with an estranged wife, a murdered best friend, and a life sentence.
It was disappointing that it wouldn’t tackle actual race relation issues of the time, instead making the targets of violence European immigrants, but the idea is still the same and unfortunately topical nowadays.


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