I promise to finish what I started and this Bogie marathon will have 24 posts! Since I didn't have either Kid Galahad (1937) or Black Legion (1937) in my Bogie boxed set (due to a technical error) I had to wait for these to come from Netflix. Black Legion (1937) is quite a depressing film but I think it's an important role for Bogie and it's important for the time period. In a pre-High Sierra role, Bogie stars (yes stars!) in Black Legion (1937), a typical exposee fare from the 1930s. The film exposes underground white supremacist groups who find "justice" in bullying and causing harm to people who they see as different and dangerous. Bogie plays Frank Taylor, a machinist at a factory who feels he is this close to getting a promotion. He's so close he can already taste the money he'll earn and is planning on how he can spend the money on his wife and young son. However, when Joe Dombrowski, a hardworking mechanist who attended night school while all the others spent their evenings drinking, gets the promotion, Frank tastes blood. It doesn't help that Joe happens to be a Jew. Frank's anger and envy drive him to join the secret society of the Black Legion and it all goes downhill from there.
This film depressed me greatly. I'm the daughter of two immigrants who worked really hard to give me opportunities that they didn't have themselves in their respective countries. Because of their hard work and the work ethic they instilled in me, I was able to earn my high school diploma, my Bachelor's degree and my Master's degree and to develop a career of my own chosing. I'm forever grateful to them for that.
I place myself in the position of Joe Dombrowski, who works all day as a mechanist, studies at night and helps his family out at their chicken farm. America is a land of opportunity. Frank Taylor thinks those opportunities are only for his notion of who is an "American". Jews, the Irish and foreigners don't count. I'm sure if African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans were involved in the story, he'd discount them too. Unless you are 100% Native American you can't claim yourself as coming from a non-immigrant family. So while I felt bad for Frank Taylor and all the trouble he got himself in, I despise the notion that America is a land of opportunity for some and not for all. And I hope the audiences in 1937 who watched this film felt the same way.