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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.

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Writers:

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

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

We'd like youse to meet Brother Orchid!

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 June 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Orchid, der Gangsterbruder  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"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 »

Goofs

At 1:04:25 Brother Superior's right arm is in his lap. When it cuts to the reverse angle, his right hand is placed on Brother Orchid's shoulder. See more »

Quotes

Little Johnny Sarto: [riding with Flo in Clarence's back seat] What's that whistlin' I hear?
Flo Addams: That's Clarence makin' birdcalls. He's awful good.
Clarence P. Fletcher: [makes a hooting sound]
Flo Addams: Want him to impersonate a robin?
Little Johnny Sarto: What'll he do? Eat a worm?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Bullets Over Hollywood (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Oddball half gangster half sentimental idealist, Robinson terrific, Bogart barely present
17 August 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Brother Orchid (1940)

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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