Brotherhood, Pre-Godfather Family

DATELINE: Mechanics Unionized 

Back in 1968, Lewis John Carlino wrote another in a bravura series of movie scripts. This time, after an intellectual horror thriller called Seconds,and a Lesbian love story called The Fox, he tackled an Organized crime story called The Brotherhood. 

It was years before Brando played Don Corleone, but many of the set-ups of the Godfather turned up before hand in a movie produced by Kirk Douglas—and he took the lead role as the Sicilian mobster.

He might seem to be miscast, but he was in charge: he also spoke perfect Italian in many scenes (and the film did not have subtitles to help audiences understand the dialogue).

Carlino’s mob features a theme he liked to explore: older gangster and younger acolyte. In this film, the older brother Frank (Douglas) has reluctantly taken his younger brother Vinnie, a war hero and college man, into the mob. If it sounds like Michael Corleone, it likely is.

Alex Cord (big things were expected) had the big role as the foil to Kirk Douglas. The film featured marriages and dancing to “Moon River” no less. There is a family compound too.

The faces of the old mob included Eduardo Cinannelli and Luther Adler, and new character stars like Murray Hamilton.

Douglas is a witty and violent man, and such men are dangerous. When they make him and offer he can’t refuse, he does—and violence follows.

With all location shots, there seem to be few studio scenes, if any. And, the streets of Palermo, Sicily, are exactly the atmosphere for your climax. One brother is sent after another. The infamous advertisement of the betrayal kiss is your pinnacle of drama.

We saw that too in the Godfather movies: mechanics sent to Sicily to dispatch people. And this movie features one of Carlino’s favorite devices: the abrupt violent end to the story and curtain black. They claimed this movie was a box-office failure—and almost caused the studios to decline Puzo’s Godfather. It certainly caused Kirk Douglas to decline an option on Carlino’s next gangster movie—The Mechanic, which eventually went to Charles Bronson.