Movie Mirrors Index

The Dark Horse

(1932 b 75')

En: 6 Ed: 6

A surprise candidate for governor gets a slick campaign manager with alimony problems.

The Progressive Party convention is deadlocked for governor, and so both sides nominate the dark horse Zachary Hicks (Guy Kibbee). Kay Russell (Bette Davis) suggests they hire Hal Blake as campaign manager; but first they have to get him out of jail for not paying alimony. Blake (Warren William) organizes the office and coaches Hicks to answer every question by pausing and then saying, "Well yes, but then again no." Blake will sell Hicks as dumb but honest. Russell refuses to marry Blake, while Joe (Frank McHugh) keeps people away from Blake's office. Blake teaches Hicks a speech by Lincoln. At the debate when the conservative candidate Underwood recites the same speech, Blake exposes him as a plagiarist. Hicks is presented for photo opportunities and gives his yes-and-no answer to any question, including whether he expects to win.

Joe puts off Blake's ex-wife Maybelle (Vivienne Osborne) by saying he inherited a farm and asking her to wait a week; but Hicks makes eyes at her and takes her into Blake. She demands money or will send Blake back to jail. Blake asks Kay for $400 and pays Maybelle. Discovering its purpose, Kay grabs the money but gives it back after receiving a necklace from Blake. Underwood's manager Black meets with Maybelle, who has been seeing Hicks. Blake is expecting a $50,000 bonus for winning the election and gets Kay to agree to marry.

Hicks tells Maybelle how he got away from Joe to go with her to a cabin. Black brings the sheriff; but Blake and Joe get there first to remove Hicks, who has been playing strip poker with Maybelle. The sheriff tries to arrest Blake for crossing a state line for immoral purposes. Blake tries to say they are married but has to wed Maybelle again to prove it. Kay walks out on Blake; but after Hicks wins the election, Blake gets Kay arrested for abandoning a child, him. They decide to head for Nevada to manage another campaign, while arranging another divorce and marriage.

This political satire is still true enough to be funny as well as a sad comment on modern democracy. The manipulators of the voters are shady characters even if they are more intelligent than the candidates. Behind the manipulating man is often found a manipulating woman.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index