Eddie Rico has been the book-keeper of an important Mafia boss but now he is an honest merchant and lives with his family in Florida. Everything changes when the police starts to search for his brothers. Now Eddie sees himself forced to get in touch with the Mafia again. Written by
Darling, I'm not blaming you. You had no choice.
Oh, but I did have a choice twenty years ago. When Kubik offered me that job, I should have thrown it in is face. He showed me a plush-lined rat hole, and I crawled in it and made it my home!
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But Eddie you got even bigger troubles. You going to live.
The Brothers Rico is directed by Phil Karlson and adapted to screenplay by Lewis Meltzer, Ben Perry and Dalton Trumbo from a story written by Georges Simenon. It stars Richard Conte, Dianne Foster, Kathryn Crosby, Larry Gates and James Darren. Music is scored by George Duning and cinematography by Burnett Guffey.
Retired from the mob and happy in his new found family life, Eddie Rico (Conte) is pulled back into the underworld when word comes that his two brothers, who are still working for the syndicate, are wanted men.
Coming at the end of the film noir cycle, The Brothers Rico sits somewhere in between noir and pure crime drama. Conte's character is a classic noir protagonist, a man who is unable to shake of his past and gets drawn into the dark underworld by family ties. Waiting there for him is a surprise, and not a good one at that. The script is very well written, which in Karlson's hands paints a sinister mob underworld operating right under the noses of everyday folk. There's much talking and very little action for most of the running time, but the dialogue is strong, always imbuing the narrative with a sense of menace, background characters are always a threat and violence implied looms over proceedings.
However, in spite of it being well written and acted with great skill by Conte, Gates and the support cast, it's a dull visual experience and crowned off by a ridiculous "aint life grand epilogue". Top cinematographer Burnett Guffey is wasted here, the film is very minimalist in production, with the film often feeling like an episode of some TV cop show. There's a brief glimpse in the last five minutes of what Guffey could do, but that's it. Conte's character provides the ticket to the noir universe, but ultimately this represents the changing of the guard, a winding down of true film noir. From a viewpoint of the film being a crime drama that provides an observation of a crime syndicate as a real presence, Karlson's movie scores a more than safe 7/10. As a film noir, though, it barely registers and noir fans should expect a flat 5/10 movie. Rounded out I make it 6/10.
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