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Brother Orchid (1940)

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.

Director:

Lloyd Bacon

Writers:

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

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward G. Robinson ... Little John Sarto
Ann Sothern ... Flo Addams
Humphrey Bogart ... Jack Buck
Donald Crisp ... Brother Superior
Ralph Bellamy ... Clarence Fletcher
Allen Jenkins ... Willie The Knife
Charles D. Brown Charles D. Brown ... Brother Wren
Cecil Kellaway ... Brother Goodwin
Morgan Conway ... Philadelphia Powell
Richard Lane ... Mugsy O'Day
Paul Guilfoyle ... Red Martin
John Ridgely ... Texas Pearson
Joseph Crehan ... Brother MacEwen
Wilfred Lucas ... Brother MacDonald
Tom Tyler ... Curley Matthews
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Storyline

Gang boss Little John Sarto returns from Europe where he was looking for "class" to find the new gang leader Jack Burns unwilling to relinquish his control. When Sarto 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:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 June 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Orchid, der Gangsterbruder See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Both Charles De Ravenne (Stable Boy) and John Qualen (Mr. Pigeon) are in studio records for their roles in this film, "Brother Orchid (1940)," but neither were seen in the movie. 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: [proposing to go to Willie at a mental institution in Jersey] Oh, I'll get him all right. This is Little John Sarto. How long will it take us to drive over to where Willie's at?
Flo Addams: Forty minutes the way you drive.
Little Johnny Sarto: Oh, good, I'll tell him we'll pick him up.
Flo Addams: Well, maybe he won't wanna leave. He told me on a postcard he's in a grand hideout and having a swell time with his mental disorder.
Little Johnny Sarto: If he ever told you that on a postcard, maybe they ought to keep him in there.
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 secondtakeSee 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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