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Olivia de Havilland,
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 <email@example.com>
Worth renting or catching on late night TV, "Brother Orchid" is a 1940 hybrid, a film that uneasily coasts between comedy and drama. With both Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart capturing theater marquees with both violent crime and some serious drama roles this film is sort of a detour but it's a good one.
Robinson plays a gangster chief who quits the mob to undertake a long and financially ruinous Grand Tour of Europe. Returning to the U.S. he is astounded to discover that he can't pick up the reins he once held firmly and that his former underboss, Bogart, wants him out of the way - permanently. Bogart's talent is not very much on display in this movie.
Robinson winds up hiding in a friary populated by gentle souls and, of course, his condition is gentled under their patient ministration.
Ann Sothern is terrific as his "fiancee," a gang moll waiting long and patiently for the march to the altar. Ralph Bellamy is amusing as a Western rancher who exudes a patience and understanding more often associated with saints than cowboys.
For those who enjoy the pre-World War II Hollywood crime films this one is just different enough from the formula, and very violent, ones.
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