Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Misleading poster for "Brotherhood"
THE BROTHERHOOD (1968). Director: Martin Ritt. Produced by Kirk Douglas.

Frank Ginetta (Kirk Douglas of Seven Days in May) is overjoyed that his younger brother Vincent (Alex Cord of The Dead Are Alive) wants to join him in the "family" business, but Vince's new wife, Emma (Susan Strasberg) isn't so sure. Her own father, Dominick Bertolo (Luthor Adler of House of Strangers) is in the business and warns Vinnie that Frank is too old-fashioned and objecting to one good deal after another -- this could have serious repercussions not only for Frank but for Vincent. Then Frank discovers that Bertolo was the man who betrayed his father and many other mafioso years ago, and sets out to get revenge, setting in motion events that will have violent consequences ... The Brotherhood pre-dates The Godfather by several years, and while it is not as good, it is not a bad picture, with some effective performances. It's hard to figure out if Frank is supposed to have an accent or not because it comes and goes, but Douglas is good in the role. Cord is not an especially dynamic performer, but he has several effective moments. The film was a box office loser, probably because the studio used a poster showing Douglas and Cord kissing on the mouth. [Not even The Boys in the Band used such an image.] In the movie the kiss, which is shown from a different angle, is one of several affectionate good-bye kisses Frank gives his brother, and is not indicative of homoerotic incest. At least France retitled the film "The Sicilian Brothers" to make it more clear what was going on. Murray Hamilton and Eduardo Ciannelli make a good impression as fellow members of the brotherhood; Strasberg is given little to do. One of the best, most chilling scenes in the movie has Frank relating to Bertolo how he befriended a man he intended to kill and having absolutely no clue as to the complete immorality of what he's describing.

Verdict: Creditable mafia drama. ***.


angelman66 said...

Happy New Year William.
Very surprising that the male-on-male kiss was used in a poster from this era, with he-man Kirk Douglas, no less. On the other hand, I do remember vividly the trailers for The Godfather, and the Al Pacino kiss was just as startling. But the Italian men in my own family always kissed on the lips, too, I guess we used to have a lot more hangups in this country!

William said...

Yes, I can't imagine what Douglas must have thought of the poster! Then again, he and son Michael did flirt with the idea of playing the gay lovers in Ira Levin's "Death trap" -- now that would have been weird!

angelman66 said...

Wow, fascinating, I never heard that! Yes, would have been too kinky for most to stomach!! LOL