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Edward G. Robinson,
Gang boss Little John Sarto returns from Europe where he was looking for "class" to find the new gang leader Jack Burns unwilling to relinquish his control. When Sarto 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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.
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