After Police Captain Dan McLaren becomes police commissioner former detective Johnny Blake knocks him down convincing rackets boss Al Kruger that Blake is sincere in his effort to join the ... See full summary »
Edward G. Robinson,
An American tanker is sunk by a German U-boat and the survivors spend eleven days at sea on a raft. They're next assigned to the liberty ship "Sea Witch" bound for Murmansk through the sub-stalked North Atlantic.
McCord's gang robs the stage carrying money to pay Indians for their land, and the notorious outlaw "The Oklahoma Kid" Jim Kincaid takes the money from McCord. McCord stakes a "sooner" ... See full summary »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Edward G. Robinson plays first fiddle here, a mob boss jaded with the business and leaving it in Humphrey Bogart's hands while he goes to Europe. For five years. He comes back broke, and he's surprised he isn't boss anymore. Ha. That's just the first twenty minutes. There are more mob doings, and then it takes an odd couple of twists that give the movie its distinction.
"Brother Orchid" is fast, it's classic mobster stuff, and yet it's never hard edged and mean, as if it knows by 1940 the genre is old and people watching it have a bit of of nostalgia for it. (This isn't really true, however, as Cagney's most polished and possibly best gangster movie was White Heat in 1949. By the way, Cagney was originally slated for Robinson's role.) It is a light comedy around the edges, and Ralph Bellamy is the one truly comic character. But Ann Southern as the lead girl plays a lighthearted moll.
The mood here is to entertain. The title is odd from outside the theater but it makes sense after seeing it, and it's this second half of the movie that makes it all a little too starry eyed, even if it's also tongue-in-cheek. But most of all, it's totally enjoyable. Bogart, who appears really for just a couple minutes of screen time total, is restrained and not the classic Bogart just emerging ("The Maltese Falcon" and "High Sierra" are both 1941). But Robinson is in usual top form, subtle, peculiar, convincing, sympathetic. He even delivers some very sentimental lines with such earthy conviction you can believe him. Almost.
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