Nation Aflame


1h 14m 1937

Brief Synopsis

Frank Sandino (Noel Madison), a suave, smooth confidence man, and his henchies are about to be run out of town on a fake real estate scheme, but his oratory skills soon has the town rubes in a buying frenzy. Sandino and Roland Adams (Harry Holman), portly and trusty-looking front man for Sandino, form an Avenging Angels league to rid America of foreigners, and plan to make a fortune selling robes to the members. Sandino decides to adopt the name of Sands for this escapade. They return to a town in which Adams was once the mayor, and find that Adams' daughter, Wynne (Norma Trelvar), is busy entertaining a host of friends at a party she is giving for her fiancee District Attorney Bob Sherman (Arthur Singley.) Once installed in the town, with the aid of the trusted Adams, Sands soon has gathered a flock of potential members for the Avenging Angels. He initiates them by forcing them to kneel while he holds a revolver at their head and forces them to take the oath that carries death as the punishment for breaking it. He and Adams then sell them hoods, cloaks and revolvers at fabulously high prices. It is soon easy for Sands/Sandino to turn the hatred among the members against the city's foreign elements. The town citizens, foreign-born excepted, are easily swayed by Sands, with the exception of Sherman and newspaper editor Harry Warren (Allan Cavan.) With the money rolling in, Sands opens chapters in other parts of the state, and when Adams voices his resentment at Sands' courting of his daughter, who has split from Sherman, Sands caters to the old man's ambitions and has him elected governor of the state. Sherman, after the Avenging Angels strike at the aviation plant because of the many foreigners it employs, Sherman urges Warren to start a campaign to expose Sands. Sands sends some of his henchmen, led by Dave Burtis (Roger Williams), after the crusading newsman and he is whipped to death. Sherman redoubles his efforts and even Adams is offended by the flogging death of Warren, and other acts of bloodshed by the clansman. Sherman has Burtis arrested but Sands soon has him freed for lack of evidence. Burtis comes home and discovers his wife, Toots (Dorothy Kildare), has been accidently shot while resisting Sands' advances. Sands feels obligated by the threat that Burtis now holds over him, and determines to get rid of him. When Adams threatens to veto a relief bill, because the veto will add a half-million dollars to the coffers of the Sands' group, the citizens gather outside the governor's mansion and yell for him to explain the veto.

Film Details

Also Known As
Avenging Angels, My Life Is Yours
Release Date
Oct 16, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Treasure Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Television Pictures, Inc.; Treasure Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,945ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

Roland Adams, a crooked former mayor, and his fellow conmen, Frank Sandino, Wolfe, Wilson and Walker, are run out of a town by a mob upset at their phony land selling racket. After thinking about the mob, Sandino, the fast-talking hawker of the group, gets an idea to form a secret lodge, the Avenging Angels, based on intolerance of religion and prejudice against "foreigners." They hope to attract thousands of people they think of as "suckers," who are suffering from the Depression. Adams visits his daughter Wynne in Middleton, hoping that she will support them financially until they get members. During a party for Bob Sherman, the district attorney, Sandino, now calling himself "Sands," expounds on the way to save the country's youth through reverence to the flag and the constitution, protection of American unemployed, the security of the home and an absolute boycott against foreigners. Although Bob fears that Sands's inflamatory ideas will only lead to mob violence, Wynne, fascinated with Sands, gives money for the Angels. Soon many Middleton citizens have paid twenty-five dollars for the initiation fee, and in black cloaks and hoods, they swear allegiance to their superiors. Following an outbreak of violence, ruination of property and strikes, Bob argues with Wynne, who often dates Sands, and she walks out. In the next two years, Sands has Adams elected governor, and they infiltrate every public office with Avenging Angels. On the eve of Adams's re-election campaign, Sands calls upon his followers to eradicate newspaper publisher Harry Warren, who has published Bob's accusations that the leaders operate for personal gain. Sands has unemployed lodge member Dave Burtis, who is a friend of Warren's, bring Warren to a car filled with Angels. They drive Warren to a clearing in a wood and, in a ceremony, kill him. After Bob matches the type on an anonymous note to that of a job application, which Dave's wife Mona typed for him, Dave is arrested for murder. Mona pleads with Sands to save him, but Sands tries to kiss her. To protect herself, she pulls out a pistol, and in their struggle, she is killed. Dave, freed for lack of evidence, finds her, and her death is ruled a suicide. When hundreds of hungry men and women wait outside the governor's mansion for Adams to sign a relief bill, which Sands orders him to refuse, Adams, angry that Sands wants to marry Wynne, tells the crowd from his balcony that he will sign the bill. Dave, acting on Sands's orders, shoots Adams, and he is in turn killed by police. Wynne then offers to infiltrate the lodge. She forms a women's auxiliary, and with its success, Sands is encouraged to form a national movement. After she disrupts a meeting by coming out of Sands's bedroom in a robe, rumors spread about them. When Tommy Franklin, the head of the youth division, questions Wynne about the rumors, she does not deny them, and Tommy tells the other youth leaders that Bob's charges are true. Angel-bolters help Bob, who is running for governor against Wilson. To further ruin Sands, Wynne entices him to an evening of drinking. Early in the morning, they return to her home and continue drinking. When Sands sees the press arrive for a conference that Wynne earlier scheduled, he realizes it is a frame-up and pulls a gun. Police shoot Sands, and Bob, putting on an act, indignantly rebukes Wynne. The Avengers then burn effigies of Wynne and Sands. Bob proposes to Wynne, but she says that because the people have to believe in him, they can't reveal the frame-up. She tells him, however, that sometime they will be together. As the President of the United States rides with Bob, now governor, in his inaugural parade, he acknowledges that the nation owes Wynne a debt of gratitude that it can never publicly repay, and Wynne, in a veil, watches from the side. The president tips his hat to her, and she lifts her veil. Bob then removes his hat, and Wynne, teary-eyed, blows him a kiss, then moves back into the crowd as she breaks down and cries.

Film Details

Also Known As
Avenging Angels, My Life Is Yours
Release Date
Oct 16, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Treasure Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Television Pictures, Inc.; Treasure Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,945ft (8 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Avenging Angels and My Life Is Yours. After the opening credits, the following written quotation by Abraham Lincoln appears: "This nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth."
       Although onscreen credits for writer Thomas Dixon read, "Story by Thomas Dixon author of Birth of a Nation" and the film's reviews state that the film was based on a story by Dixon, a June 29, 1936 Hollywood Reporter news item claims that the story was an original written by Leon D'Usseau. Ethel Jackson is listed as a cast member in Hollywood Reporter production charts, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Reviews noted that the film was based in part on the activities of the Black Legion and the Ku Klux Klan. For information about the Black Legion, please see the entry above for 1937 film Black Legion.