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Brother Orchid (1940)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Drama | 8 June 1940 (USA)
When retired racket boss John Sarto tries to reclaim his place and former friends try to kill him, he finds solace in a monastery and reinvents himself as a pious monk.



(screen play), (based on the story by: Collier's Magazine)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Flo Addams
Jack Buck
Brother Superior
Clarence Fletcher
Willie The Knife
Charles D. Brown ...
Brother Wren
Brother Goodwin
Philadelphia Powell
Richard Lane ...
Mugsy O'Day
Red Martin
John Ridgely ...
Texas Pearson
Brother MacEwen
Brother MacDonald
Curley Matthews


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. He is gradually transformed by the simple, sincere brothers and, after one last gangland appearance, decides he has found class at last in the monastery. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


We'd like youse to meet Brother Orchid!


Comedy | Crime | Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

8 June 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Orchid, der Gangsterbruder  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on February 16, 1941 with Donald Crisp reprising his film role. See more »


Possibly deliberate mistake by the film makers, when John Sarto goes to get Willie the Knife (Allen Jenkins) released from the SanatoRium, the sign of the institution is misspelt "Pattonsville Private Sanitarium" See more »


Flo Addams: Johnny, wait a minute. I want you to carry this with you.
Little Johnny Sarto: What is it?
Flo Addams: It's a rabbit's foot. A lucky charm. My uncle wore it for 32 years.
Little Johnny Sarto: A lucky charm, eh? Where'd you get it?
Flo Addams: From my mother. With her own hand she took it off of my uncle after they hung him.
See more »


Referenced in Footsteps in the Dark (1941) See more »


Devil May Care
(1940) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played during scene at Fat Dutchy's Tavern
See more »

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User Reviews

A mobster hides out in an unlikely place
17 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Edward G. Robinson becomes "Brother Orchid" in this 1940 film directed by Lloyd Bacon and also starring Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sothern, Ralph Bellamy, and Allen Jenkins. Robinson plays a mobster, Johnny Sarto, who works protection. He quits the business, turning it over to his right hand man, Jack Buck (Bogart) and spends five years touring the world in search of class. He comes back home broke from bad investments (the Borgia's bed was made in Grand Rapids) and wants back in.

Jack Buck, however, doesn't want to give up his position. When Johnny's airhead girlfriend Flo (Sothern) speaks with Jack about reconciling with Johnny, she reminds him that Johnny witnessed Jack murder someone. Jack pretends to go along with the reconciliation, but in reality, he plans on killing Johnny. Johnny escapes the hit men and, believing Flo set him up, realizes he has no one to turn to. He passes out in front of a monastery and winds up donning the monastic robe and raising flowers.

Very funny and warm film with wonderful performances. Robinson always played comedy very seriously, making his sinister gangster seem even funnier here. Beautiful Ann Sothern is great as the ditsy girlfriend who loves Johnny but can't get a commitment out of him. Bogart is still portraying crooks at this point, and he does an excellent job as the dangerous Johnny Buck. Donald Woods and Cecil Kellaway are two of the monks Johnny encounters.

Director Bacon did a lot of gangster films at Warners, and he really knew how to pace them.

Very enjoyable.

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