It's the 1870s in the small Russian town of Ryevsk. The lusty Fyodor Karamazov, a bit of a cad who has lived off the wealth of his long deceased first wife, has never loved any of his four now adult sons, including his illegitimate epileptic son, Pavel Smerdjakov, who he employs as his personal servant. The four brothers were largely raised apart. Alexi, the youngest, is the only one who loves his father, but does so as he loves all mankind in his piety. Second eldest Ivan, who lives most of the time in Moscow working in the newspaper business, is the emotionally troubled one. And the eldest Dmitri, an army lieutenant and the only offspring on Fyodor's first wife, knows that he is most like their father, and as such has the greatest animosity toward him in their mutual depravity. Dmitri has knowingly racked up gambling debts in waiting for what he considers his fair share of his mother's wealth, something that Fyodor will not willingly give to him but will loan on a request by request...Written by
When Captain Snegiryov discuses Dmitri Karamazov's debt situation he notes that Dmitri Karamazov could not even repay 2 cents for every ruble he owes (0:33:35). The Russian ruble is divided into 100 kopecks, not cents, although the word cent can be broadly defined as the hundredth part of almost any national currency. See more »
After watching this film for the first time I can see where Jerome Weideman got the inspiration for the novel that became the basis for the films House Of Strangers and Broken Lance. The Menottis of the first film and the Devereauxs of the second were definitely inspired by The Brothers Karamazov.
The feelings for the father are the only thing that unite these four distinctly different brothers. Lee J. Cobb is a hard drinking, hard wenching, two fisted patriarch who is determined to beat everyone else in the game of debauchery. He's getting good competition from son Yul Brynner and it arouses some jealousy even though Brynner is engaged to a nice girl in Claire Bloom who also has a father giving both of them a run at that game. Things do come to a head when Brynner takes an interest in another woman who Cobb is currently keeping company with. In fact Inger Stevens and Cobb have a complicated scheme to get Brynner under their thumb through his gambling debts so he's forced to marry Bloom and start living respectively.
The other brothers are unique individuals themselves. Richard Basehart is a reporter for a radical newspaper with budding revolutionary thoughts. William Shatner is a pious novice monk, he and Basehart are a study in contrasts. Finally there is Albert Salmi who claims Cobb as his father and who Cobb treats like a doormat. Not that this brutish sadistic thug is worthy of anything. All of the sons suffer from a lack of a strong father figure.
The climax is when Cobb is murdered and Brynner is arrested for the crime. Fyodor Doestoyevsky is not Agatha Christie, people who like murder mysteries will have that solution figured out. But Doestoyevsky was writing this novel as a character study. Each of these brothers represent an extreme in terms of a way of living be it radical politics, religion, debauchery, or even brutish strength. An amalgam character of all of them would be a well adjusted man.
The Brothers Karamazov got one Oscar nomination, Lee J. Cobb for Best Supporting Actor. Papa Karamazov is certainly the kind of role that one cannot possibly overact in and Cobb feasts on enough scenery for three films. He lost the Oscar sweepstakes to another patriarchal portrayal that which Burl Ives did in The Big Country.
After over 50 years The Brothers Karamazov holds up very well, it's a good film and a good introduction to the works of Doestoyevsky. Try and see it back to back to back with House Of Strangers and Broken Lance.
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