“Brother Orchid” is a crime film released in 1940 and it also has some comedic elements to it. The film was written by Richard Connell, Earl Baldwin, Jerry Wald, and Richard Macauley and directed by Lloyd Bacon. Edward G. Robinson is in the leading role with a cast that includes Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sothern, Donald Crisp, and Ralph Bellamy.
Robinson plays a crime boss who decides to leave his crew for a bit in a world-wide search for what he thinks his class. Little John Sarto leaves the gang in the hands of Bogart’s character, Jack Buck. Jack Buck….now that’s a great name! When Sarto returns from his travels after going broke, he finds that resuming his position as the boss is met with some surprising resistance. Surprising to him anyway. Sarto is able to raise another gang to rival the one now under the leadership of his former lieutenant. When Sarto is lured into a meeting that ends up becoming an ambush, he soon finds himself having to recover from gunshot wounds at a monastery. The time with the monks starts to awaken whatever sense of decency Sarto may have once had.
This is a mildly interesting movie. This is a pretty familiar performance from Robinson, so he does well with it unsurprisingly. Bogart is in more of a supporting role here, but he seems to make the most of it. I wouldn’t call it the most memorable of classic films in my eyes, but it was not one I minded taking the time to see. The monks did not come off as caricatures, which was a telling accomplishment. The gangsters were a little hammy, but that was typical for this era of filmmaking.
This movie is a bit flawed but there is some enjoyment to be found here.