7.6/10
3,183
26 user 22 critic

Brother's Keeper (1992)

This documentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky details the murder trial of Delbert Ward. Delbert's of a family of 4 brothers (the other 3 being Roscoe, Lyman and William - Bill, for ... See full summary »
Reviews

Watch Now

From $4.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
10 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Brother's Keeper I (2013)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

Identical twins Andy and Pete Goodwynn have always been there for each other. But in a cruel twist of fate-orchestrated by the town's most powerful family-their lives are forever altered. ... See full summary »

Directors: T.J. Amato, Josh Mills
Stars: Michael Rooker, Ray Wise, Travis Tritt
Documentary | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The case of the West Memphis Three, its questionable circumstances and the parties involved are followed up years later.

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Stars: Damien Wayne Echols, Melissa Byers, Norris Deajon
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.

Director: Andrew Jarecki
Stars: Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman
Documentary | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A horrific triple child murder leads to an indictment and trial of three nonconformist boys based on questionable evidence.

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Stars: Tony Brooks, Diana Davis, Terry Wood
Documentary | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A further followup of the case of the West Memphis Three and the decades long fight to exonerate them that finally gained traction with new DNA evidence.

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Stars: Gary Gitchell, Todd Moore, Dana Moore
Crazy Love I (2007)
Documentary | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The bizarre true story of Linda Riss and Burt Pugach.

Directors: Dan Klores, Fisher Stevens
Stars: Burt Pugach, Linda Pugach, Bob Janoff
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The accident made national headlines: a suburban mother drove the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway in upstate New York and crashed head-on into an SUV, killing herself and seven others. In ... See full summary »

Director: Liz Garbus
Stars: Jesse Temple, Brad Katinas, Diane Schuler
Documentary | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

"The Trials of Darryl Hunt" is a feature documentary about a brutal rape/murder case and a wrongly convicted man, Darryl Hunt, who spent nearly twenty years in prison for a crime he did not... See full summary »

Directors: Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg
Stars: Evelyn Jefferson, Fred Flagler, John Reeves
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A chilling exploration of the tragic history of the Suh family and the murder that shocked America - when the picture perfect son, Andrew, shot and killed his sister's fiancé at her bidding.

Director: Iris K. Shim
Stars: Bob J. Berlin, Myung Han, Carol Hogan
Documentary | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Randall Adams, David Harris, Gus Rose
Gray Matter (TV Movie 2004)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In the spring of 2002, filmmaker Joe Berlinger traveled to Vienna to witness the burial of the preserved brains of over 700 children killed at a Nazi "euthanasia" clinic. GRAY MATTER ... See full summary »

Director: Joe Berlinger
The Staircase (TV Mini-Series 2004)
Documentary | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, presents a gripping courtroom thriller, offering a rare and revealing inside look at a high-profile murder trial. In ... See full summary »

Stars: Michael Peterson, David Rudolf, Ron Guerette
Edit

Cast

Cast overview:
Delbert Ward ...
Himself
Roscoe Ward ...
Himself
Lyman Ward ...
Himself
Walt Geisler ...
Himself - Ward Supporter
Ken Elmer ...
Himself - Neighbor
John Teeple ...
Himself - Neighbor
Dave Goff ...
Himself - Cousin
Joseph F. Loszynski ...
Himself - Bureau of Criminal Investigation, New York State Police (as Captain Joseph F. Loszynski)
Harry Thurston ...
Himself - Friend
Ralph A. Cognetti ...
Himself - Defense Attorney
Maynard A. Cosnett ...
Himself - Bureau of Criminal Investigation, New York State Police (as Investigator Maynard A. Cosnett)
John W. Graham ...
Himself - Bureau of Criminal Investigation, New York State Police (as Investigator John W. Graham)
Robert J. Killough ...
Himself - Bureau of Criminal Investigation, New York State Police (as Investigator Robert J. Killough)
Donald F. Cerio ...
Himself - Madison County District Attorney
Edit

Storyline

This documentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky details the murder trial of Delbert Ward. Delbert's of a family of 4 brothers (the other 3 being Roscoe, Lyman and William - Bill, for short), working as semi-literate farmers, and living together in isolation in a ramshackle shack, until William's death. The subsequent police investigation and medical examiner's autopsy suggested Bill may not have died from natural causes, and Delbert was arrested on charges of second-degree murder. Under questioning by police, Delbert appears to have waived his rights and signed a confession, but, it seems he might not have been competent, and was coerced into doing so. The film explores possible motives for the crime, from mercy-killing (Bill was ill at the time), to progressively more outré hypotheses. It also shows how residents of the rural community of Munnsville, NY rallied to the support of one of their own (residents previously considered the Wards as social outcasts), against what they ... Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence. | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 September 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fylakas tou adelfou mou  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$1,305,915 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Picked by Entertainment Weekly magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Independent Films" in a special supplement devoted to independent films that was only distributed to subscribers in October 1997. See more »

Crazy Credits

Dedicated to the memory of William J. Ward (1925-1990) May you rest in peace See more »

Connections

References Jeopardy! (1984) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
10/10
22 October 2004 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

In a simple way this is just an "us and them" story, with the hardworking small town folk being treated like buffoons by the big, mean, well-groomed city justice people. But Berlinger and Sinofsky are far more talented than that, and their film ends up being one of the most human films I've ever seen in terms of their generosity to their subjects. It's generous because they don't put their views into the film, they don't decide how we should view the allegations, but at the same time don't restrict themselves from becoming somewhat involved in these brothers' lives.

At first we're inclined to look down on these brothers -- they rarely bathe, they're not educated, they can hardly hear what the documentarians say to them. They're completely unselfconscious. Our natural reaction is to place ourselves above them. But the filmmakers' greatness is in how within about half an hour we find ourselves connected to them as equals. In fact, we notice how philosophical they can be, maybe without realizing it -- without being treated like simpleminded saints. The directors give us a view of the townspeople, too, the Ward brother supporters, many of which are quite articulate themselves. (One elderly gentleman, a hard man from the outside, is surprisingly forward-thinking, when it's speculated that the brothers may have had an incestuous relationship, and he uses the word "gay" rather than the expected offensive term, and refers to the justice people as "narrow minded," and how whatever kind of relationship the bothers had, sexual or not, it should not have any bearing on the case.) There's one startling description of the brothers' love for one another, that if indeed one of the brothers did kill the other, it was in the same way he would have killed a sick and dying cow, paralyzed after giving birth. (There's one horrifying scene where a pig is killed that isn't quite as lovely.)

The communal, familial way in which the filmmakers interact with the brothers is exactly the same way these townspeople interact with one another. The construction of the film is just perfect for the entire film. It's uncomfortable without being cruel, it's friendly without being cloying, it's dark and disturbing without seeming phony. When joyful fiddle music plays after a scene, it's never mocking the way it would be in another film. (And one of the greatest scenes in the film is an image of a ragged man with his cows, and some very, very haunting violin music by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, whose entire score is outstanding, and anticipates "Fargo.") When the trial takes place, we're implicated because we don't know the truth. By this point we're so invested in these brothers that when one of them is on the bench, shaking and terrified from nervousness -- these brothers just don't have this kind of human contact -- the filmmakers have completely earned our tears. It's not a sentimental moment, it's as horrifying as the scene of the pig being killed. You feel as if the judicial system is raping this man of his dignity. This is a masterpiece. 10/10


28 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page