Brother Orchid

BrotherOrchidSuggested by Brad Nelson • Gang boss Little John Sarto returns from Europe where he was looking for “class” to find his old mob taken over by Jack Burns. When he puts together a rival gang he gets wounded and seeks refuge in a monastery.
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One Response to Brother Orchid

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    These are the kind of black and white movies I live for. Not because this one is so good but because it’s something I haven’t seen before.

    This is somewhere between a comedy and a dark comedy. Despite the “Brother Orchid” aspect, most of the movie follows John Sarto (Edward G. Robinson) in his life and rivalry with fellow gangster, Jack Buck (Humphrey Bogart). Bogart is good (same-old, same-old in regards to his gangster persona, which is always a pleasure) but Robinson is something else. He’s a mix of the best of his criminal persona — that he is so well known for and that practically defined the genre — with, well…he eventually becomes a novice in a monastery.

    On the face of it, it seems a bit miscast to play Edward G. Robinson as the typical gangster who then eventually finds his way to a monastery. This is not so much fish-out-of-water stuff as it’s simply stretching what you’re used to seeing Robinson play. He doesn’t particularly go soft, per se. He hangs onto his persona for the most part. But he pulls if off even as some quite funny dialogue is dropped in what is otherwise a gangster film.

    Ann Sothern plays the somewhat ditzy love interest of John Sarto who, when asked if she smelled alfalfa, replied “Who makes it?” A rather young Ralph Bellamy plays her suitor from Texas. It’s quite a different role for him as well.

    The movie isn’t full of real laugh-out-loud moments but you’ll likely find yourself grinning as comedy noir combines with typical Bogie/Edward G. Robinson machine-gun-style gangster talk. Everything about this movie is an odd mix — including Robinson’s time in a monastery. But in it’s odd sort of way, it works. And more importantly, the movie entertains throughout.

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