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THE BROTHERHOOD

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Kirk Douglas, Alex Cord, Irene Papas, Luther Adler
Director: Martin Ritt
Audio: English Mono, French Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: None
Length: 96 Minutes
Release Date: May 14, 2002

ďFrank, Iím in. Iíve always been in, havenít I?Ē

ďYou donít know how long Iíve been waiting to hear you say that.Ē

Film ***

In light of the The Godfather and the sequels that would come later, The Brotherhood has a certain interest for the plot elements that are similar, not to mention one brief reference to the Corleone family. Some of these elements include: a younger brother who is educated with the intention of keeping him clear of the family business but gets involved of his own volition; a family head who resists new business lines; and a killing that forces a family member to retreat to Sicily -- not to mention the usual intrigue, backstabbing, and intergenerational conflict. The difference is in the scope. The Brotherhood is a smaller-scale film that focuses on the internal workings of the Mafia as well as the home family relationships of its members. By focusing on the latter, the film also seems to be romanticizing what it implies to be the more admirable older, personal but more overtly violent ways as opposed to the newer, more insidious and impersonal methods.

Direction is by Martin Ritt who, during a feature film directing career that spanned 34 years from 1957 to 1990, made a number of interesting films including Hud, Hombre, and Sounder, The Brotherhood is an efficiently directed exercise that not only displays some nice location shooting in both New York and Sicily, but also does so with interesting camera placement and movement. One shot of Douglas approaching on foot along a long, deserted walkway by the water is effectively used to emphasize how isolated his character has become in the film, for example.

Before Coppolaís Godfather Trilogy, there werenít many films made which delved into the personal lives of those employed in the mafia, and Martin Rittís The Brotherhood is perhaps the finest pre-Godfather entry Iíve thus far come across. Terrific performances, led by another memorable one from Kirk Douglas, help enhance the emotional center of the story to a high level.

Released in 1968, the film was originally not given an actual movie rating. Thirty years after its release, Paramount has rightfully applied a PG-13 rating for some brief moments of harsh violence. Itís a rare type of ratings move that I can certainly say is much appropriate.

Video **

Paramount has become one of the top-quality DVD producers in the last couple of years, but the hardest part for any studio, I suppose, is making light of their aged classics. The Brotherhood is nicely anamorphically enhanced, but the image itself comes off as a bit more than dated, with noticeable grain, and instances of image softness. Overall itís not all that bad, but the on and off picture flaws were somewhat distracting at times.

Audio **

A 2.0 Mono track is all that is supplied here, and thus cannot really deliver in any other area except that of dialogue delivery. In short, just your basic mono track turnout.

Features (Zero Stars)

Nothing.

Summary:

The Brotherhood is top notch Mafioso entertainment which contains a much emotionally involving story at its core, making it a must see for fans of the genre, as well as those of the great Douglas.