BROTHER ORCHID 1940

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A cute comedy with Edward G.Robinson in fine form as gangster John Sarto who decides to retire and enjoy the good life – and find ‘class.’

He calls a meeting of his gang and tells them he’s going after good taste and refinement.

His second in command,Jack Buck (Humphrey Bogart) is ready and willing to take over. Sarto’s long time girlfriend is Flo (Ann Sothern).He says they’ll have a church wedding after he gets back from his solo trip to Europe.. Flo says, “I aint been in a church since the night your brother got bumped off.”

Ann Sothern,Edward G Robinson

Ann Sothern,Edward G Robinson

Flo wants to be in show business,so to keep her happy, John arranges for her to get a job in a nightclub – as a hat check girl – Flo is happy.

There’s a montage of John in Paris,Rome and Monte Carlo – he’s away 5 years (though it’s more like 5 minutes). He loses all his money trying to find class and blithely returns to the States thinking he can take over where he left off – after all, it’s only been 5 years.

Of course, Jack Buck disagrees and John says he’ll form a new mob.

He also seems to think good old Flo will still be waiting for him. But Flo has gone from being a hat check girl to owning a club and living in a fancy apartment – with the help of rich rancher Ralph Bellamy who wants to marry her.

However, she hasn’t changed and drops everything for John. She even innocently arranges a meeting with Buck and John so they can stop fighting. Two of Buck’s hoods kidnap John and he is wounded before escaping and taking refuge in a monastery run by Donald Crisp.

 

The monks raise flowers and sell them in the city.. John takes to the quiet life and calls himself ‘Brother Orchid’ – “That’ll be my new tag.”

The monks run into trouble with Buck’s Protective association, but Brother Orchid sorts it out.

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He goes from thinking of the monastery as a ‘swell hideout’, and Crisp as ‘the biggest chump in the world’, to deciding to stay in the monastery and telling Bellamy that he’s the right man for Flo.

He’s found’ Class’ at last.

Edward G. and Ann Sothern head a good cast, though it was just another supporting role for Bogart – Maltese Falcon and High Sierra were just around the corner. The supporting cast are the usual stalwarts –  Allen Jenkins,Cecil Kellaway,Richard Lane and Paul Guilfoyle.

 

 

 

 

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4 responses »

  1. I remember enjoying this one a lot and being impressed by Robinson in it, but, to my shame, I’d all but forgotten that Bogie was in it! I think you are right that this was just another one of those tough guy roles for him, but for Robinson it gave the chance to show different sides of his character, and as usual he was fantastic.

  2. I’m afraid Bogie’s part is very weak in this. Such a waste . No wonder he was angry with Warners for the lack of good roles.

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