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Rating: PG-13 (For Some Violence)
Running Time: 96 minutes
Starring: Kirk Douglas, Alex Cord, Irene Papas, Luther Alder
Written by: Lewis John Carlino
Directed by: Martin Ritt
Retail Price: $24.99
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Mono, French Mono, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (16 Scenes)
Released: May 14h, 2002
Just a few years before one of the greatest movie epics of all time (and arguably the best mob movie out there), "The Godfather," which seems to be the bar set for crime dramas (and a fantastic film in its own right as mentioned), Paramount released "The Brotherhood." The film was initially panned for the most part, but I can't see why. It's no "Godfather," but is a lot stronger than I initally expected before sitting down to watch it. This is a solid film from the 1960s, and if you like interesting characters and the whole deals what the mafia can bring as well as conflicts of loyalty, respect and all sorts of honor, then "The Brotherhood" is for you. I'd even call it sort of an "indie Godfather." The scope of the film isn't as complex and is a bit smaller, but it shares very similar themes and parallels to that certain mob saga.
The film follows two brothers. Frank Ginetta (Kirk Douglas) is a hardcore maifoso who is of the old school of things and hopes to keep it that way and not get into the branching out that the syndicate he's involved in has been doing. His younger brother, Vince (Alex Cord), wants to make his mark in the business. Vince is dashing, college educated, married and seems to have a lot going for him. But he will be forced to put up with his brother, as Vince favors the syndicate... and is ordered to take a hit on him, all while Frank plots revenge against a syndicate associate who killed his father and other associates. And so, a duel pitting each brother against one another (hehe that rhymes) begins...
Maybe a better way to characterize "The Brotherhood" is as "Godfather Lite," though it is still rather rich and enjoyable, and can be complex if not a tad bit predictable. I really enjoyed this movie. It has a lot going for it, thanks to a strong script from Lewis John Carlino. His script captures the whole ideals of organized crime, its members and how it can make key relationships crumble. With that said, there is a certain irony within the title of the movie, the characters and their motives. He makes every part of the film crucial, and has crafted many great scenes that really bind the great relationships and conflicts. His dialogue is sharp and works wonderfully too.
The late Martin Ritt, who probably is most notable for directing 1979's "Norma Rae," is solid in the director's chair. The movie went really fast for me and is tailored rather nicely at a little over an hour and a half. Ritt gets Carlino's words and themes across very well. The photography and shots throughout are pretty cool, and the editing style is very nice. You get this nice, enclosed feeling as if you're watching all of this in front of you. There's great cinematics to the film.
What I also really enjoyed about "The Brotherhood" was its incredibly strong and charismatic performances throughout.Some characters are here to only serve some key purposes and those actors shine in their respective roles, but others, with more complex and depth to them, are wonderful too. Kirk Douglas as Frank is a perfect fit. He's truly one of the greatest actors of all time (as time does prove) and could (and probably still can) morph himself into any role. Douglas captures the charm and ways of Frank quite easily, and shares great chemistry with Alex Cord who plays Vince. Vince does counteract Frank in the right manners and Cross is just as charming and charismatic as Douglas, their buildsup are quite nice. The ensemble here all fits rather beautifully if you ask me.
In all, this is a solid flick about family values (both kinds), the mob and is really well made. Kirk Douglas produced the film himself actually, and though his passion on screen is thick, I'm sure it was just the same behind the scenes. If you like some fine drama or mob films in general, "The Brotherhood" is a great watch and one of the best mafia-themed flicks I've seen.
Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, "The Brotherhood" sure looks its age. The image quality has some nice touches, but sadly the many flaws overtake the good. The picture can be incredibly grainy at times, but at other moments it's pretty sharp actually. There are some halo edges, shimmering and noise throughout, which isn't too bad because there's never too much. Detail is decent and black levels are fine. But the film, as I said, the film does look its age. But the most annoying thing about the transfer is that all throughout there are plenty of scratches, pieces of dirt, marks and loads of blemishes. This gets in the way of things. Still, it's an overall decent image with fine fleshtones and bold color saturation.
There really isn't much to say here. French and English mono tracks are included. This being a classic film, I'm sure not all the sound elements were kept intact for this one, so I doubt a remix could have been created. No matter though, the mono works and is a solid experience for the film. While it's coming out of many speakers, much of the stuff sounds good. Be it cars roaring, foots scraping against the ground and other such sounds, there is a classic sense that this track sounds right and hasn't been touched. The music sounds good and has nice rings to it, while the dialogue is pretty clear, though sometimes it's overpowered by the background sounds. The fidelity is surprisingly high as well. Still, for a mono mix, it works well. English subtitles and English closed captions are also included.
An interesting take in 1960s cinema, "The Brotherhood" is a nice "Godfather"-like film and is very entertaining thanks to its strong directing, sharp script and great performances. The DVD picture and audio is a little above decent at best, and there are no supplements to speak of. This is one entertaining movie and is worth a rental, and a good purchase if you're a fan of the flick.