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Brother Orchid
Brother Orchid
Actors: Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sothern, Donald Crisp, Ralph Bellamy
Director: Lloyd Bacon
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2008     1hr 28min

Racket Boss John Sarto, tired of gang violence, quits and goes to Europe for "culture." His fortune soon dissipated by European swindlers, he returns to the old mob; but new boss Jack Burns finds him strictly superfluous. ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sothern, Donald Crisp, Ralph Bellamy
Director: Lloyd Bacon
Creators: Tony Gaudio, Hal B. Wallis, Mark Hellinger, Earl Baldwin, Jerry Wald, Richard Connell, Richard Macaulay
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Romantic Comedies, Love & Romance, Classics, Family Life, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 03/25/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/1940
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1940
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 28min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Highly Unusual Blend of Gangster Tale and Sentiment
Simon Davis | 08/05/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Brother Orchid", has always been a film I have greatly enjoyed on a number of different levels. It is one of the few attempts by Warner Brothers, who made the Gangster genre their own in the 1930's, to show another side to such a story so here we get a most unusual combination of hard nosed story telling typical of Warners, alongside a sentimental and quite comical story detailing one conman's search for "class" and "style" in his world."Brother Orchid", provided Edward G. Robinson with one of his most appealing roles as Little Johnny Sarto a big time racketeer who grows tired of the gangland goings on he has presided over for too long, and tries to quit the scene to pursue his quest for real class and refinement in life. After an abortive trip to Europe Johnny finds his old haunts and collegues are no longer welcoming and soon he finds himself pursued by ruthless thug and former employee Jack Buck (Humphrey Bogart in one of his last bad guy supporting roles before his real stardom kicked in the next year). Supposedly set up with a reconciliation meeting with Jack by his kind hearted girlfriend "Flo" Adams (Ann Sothern in a delightful performance) Johnny finds himself a marked man and narrowly escapes being murdered after Jack's boys take him out into the woods to finish him off. Escaping wounded Johnny finds his way to a secluded Monastery where he is taken in by the kindly monks and brought back to health. Along the way Johnny learns a few things about life and what he regarded as initially an ideal hideout till he could plot his revenge against Jack turns into a life changing experience and the one time hood becomes the placid life appreciating "Brother Orchid". Despite the chance of reclaiming his turf Johnny sees that Flo really deserves better than what he can offer and steps aside so that she can marry the decent but dull farmer Clarence P. Fletcher who worships the ground Flo walks on. With that done Johnny returns to the monastery where he at last finds the real "class" in life, not in posessions or money but in the company of decent, honest men who have their own class simply by who and what they are not what they can get.A highly improbable story perhaps but done in such an expert way and delivered with such sincerity by the cast that one can't help but believe what is going on. What was originally viewed as merely a "fill in" project for Edward G. Robinson so that he could then move on to the lead role in "Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet" turned into a smashing success and his most successful film for a couple of years. The story really reveals Robinson's great abilities in both comedy and hard edged drama. His transformation from hard boiled racketeer to endearing orchid growing monk is a delight to behold and never once do we doubt the sincerity of his playing. It is very interesting to see Humphrey Bogart performing his small time hood role again which was a character that he had played countless times during his 1930's apprenticeship with Warner Brothers. He is in turn tough and mean and provides most of the dramatic side to this unusual tale. Veteran character actress Ann Sothern is terrific as the typical gangsters moll with the heart of gold and she proves once and for all what a fine actress she could be given a role with some dimension. Her drunk scene when she tries to get Johnny to come to "Fat Dutchy's" Tavern to meet Jack is priceless. Veteran character actor Donald Crisp has a superb role as Brother Superior who takes the wounded Johnny into his monastery and heals him physically and morally as well. Most of the beautiful sentiment in the story of "Brother Orchid" comes from Donald Crisp's playing of the patient, saintly, but still world wise head of the monastic order who points out the errors of Johnny's views on life and people. A superb actor in many fine films Crisp is in his element in this comical and heart warming tale of one man's redemption.It is really hard to place "Brother Orchid", is any one film category, part comedy, part redemption tale, part crime saga, it is an odd mixture of many different kinds of films we are used to seeing. I feel it is this odd mix which makes the film so appealing and all the very different types of acting styles and personas also make it a unique viewing experience. To see acting greats like Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sothern and Donald Crisp in the one film makes me lament the lack of this kind of star power in modern film stories. All had their own set screen personas which they lovingly spoofed in "Brother Orchid". For an uplifting viewing experience from Warner Brother's golden period of film making you are certain to enjoy Edward G. Robinson is one of his more off beat roles as "Brother Orchid"."
Tim Janson | Michigan | 04/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Edward G. Robinson is most well-known from his many crime dramas and playing gangsters but among his best roles were comedies where he often parodied his gangster roles and did so with incredible diversity and skill. He was vastly underrated as a comedic actor and unfortunately many of his films are not on DVD or even VHS. Brother orchid is and it's one of Robinson's best comedic performances and maybe one of his best performances period! This film combines so many genres typical of the late 30's and early 40's, with crime drama, film noir, and comedy elements.

Robinson is Little John Sarto a mobster who aspires to be a man of sophistication and elegance. He goes to Europe and takes part in things like polo and art collecting. While he's away Humphrey Bogart, as jack Buck, takes over running the 'protection' operation and doesn't want to give it up. Sarto recruits a new gang to try and muscle in on Buck's territory but his girlfriend Flo (Ann Southern) unwittingly sets Sarto up for a hit. Sarto survives the hit and eventually makes his way to a monastery where he is aided by the monks. Sarto soon finds himself enjoying the serene peace of the monastery and finds his mobster ways being stripped away by the pious monks who come to accept Sarto as one of their own. But when Buck tries to run the Monk's flower business under, it's time for him to settle the score.

Boy what a really enjoyable movie that his humorous and yet filled with hope and a moral, yet not overbearing message of peace. The film has an incredible supporting cast including Ann Southern, Ralph Bellamy and the aforementioned Bogart. Thankfully this one is on VHS and I can only hope someone will gives us a collection of Edward G. Robinson films in the very near future."
Fish Out Of Water
James L. | 06/30/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Edward G. Robinson stars as gangster Little John Sarto, a man fed up with the racket who travels across Europe in the hopes of finding class. When he returns, he finds his gang in the hands of Humphrey Bogart, his girlfriend Ann Sothern newly wealthy, and himself penniless and still without class. He tries to get back into his old life, but it proves to be harder than expected, and he ends up hiding out in a monastery of all places! Brother Orchid came at the end of the cycle of gangster films at Warner Brothers. It's a hard film to classify - it's part gangster film, part comedy, and also a character study of a man's moral awakening. Surprisingly, these diverse elements come together well in the film. The plot is unbelievable, but Robinson fits into the role well, bringing a history to the character through all of his other gangster performances, and also bringing his talent for broad comedy that was not seen often enough. Sothern is terrific as his patient fiancee, while Bogart doesn't register much as the cardboard bad guy. Allen Jenkins, one of Warner Brothers best character actors, has some funny moments as Robinson's loyal henchman. Director Lloyd Bacon keeps the film moving right along, and although this fish-out-of-water story may sound too farfetched, its heart is in the right place and it's fun to watch."
The Real Class
P. Goode | 02/28/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Edward G. Robinson's versatility is on full display in his memorable comic performance as a gangster in search of "class" who is forced to hide out in a monastery. Plenty of great lines and wonderful character actors abound. Ralph Bellamy's bird-calling scene is priceless."