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  Brothers Rico, The Every Time He Tries To Get Out, They Pull Him Back In!
Year: 1957
Director: Phil Karlson
Stars: Richard Conte, Dianne Foster, Kathryn Grant, Larry Gates, James Darren, Argentina Brunetti, Lamont Johnson, Harry Belaver, Paul Picerni, Paul Dubov, Rudy Bond, Richard Bakalyan, William Phipps
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Eddie Rico (Richard Conte) runs his own laundry business down in Florida, but it was laundering of a different kind that was part of his former life as an accountant for the Mob, under his uncle Sid Kubik (Larry Gates). He is glad to have put all that behind him and is planning to adopt a child with his loving wife Alice (Dianne Foster), though he is haunted by the thought that past may come back to bite him, and sure enough, the day before they are due to hear from the authorities about the adoption, he receives an early morning telephone call. It seems his old associates want a favour from him, nothing major, simply find a job for one of their men - but there's more to it.

Isn't there always? This was a film noir that happened along late in the original cycle, where the style was giving way to more realistic thrillers, but had not quite abandoned the doomed man format of what had been popular until recently. There were more happy endings occurring in these, however contrived, to assure audiences that if you did the right thing, originally or eventually, you would receive your just rewards, yet when you looked at an item like The Brothers Rico it was apparent that paranoia marking some of the finest noirs and indeed the anti-Communist climate in the United States was bound to creep into the entertainment of the day, subtly or overtly.

Here the paranoia was so deeply entrenched that Eddie's journey through an underworld so insidious it looks like it will never release its claws from his neck came across as if it was now woven into the fabric of America's life, and scratching the surface would reveal a host of criminal types all ready to take advantage of you, be you innocent or otherwise. Eddie we can tell by Conte's everyman approach is not deserving of being hounded by the gangsters he had desperately hoped were no longer a part of his days, though the fact he has a misdemeanour in that past of his means he is fair game for anyone seeking to not allow him to forget it, and exploit him to the hilt.

The message was that no matter how respectably you tried to present yourself there would always be something waiting from before to trip you up, and Eddie is an awful warning to anyone who thinks they can get away with criminal activity. But more than that, he was a warning to anyone who believed they could be law-abiding citizens when there are decidedly corrupt citizens sharing the world with you, able to entice you into their web of evil no matter how innocent you wished to present yourself. Under Phil Karlson's direction, this tale (interestingly adapted from a Georges Simenon story) turns positively Kafkaesque from the moment the telephone is heard to ring, that tolling chime portending a dramatic change in the couple's lifestyles and there's no way they can ignore it.

What has happened is that while Eddie has, he thinks, escaped the clutches of organised crime, his two brothers have not been so lucky and after arranging a Mob hit, they are now on a hitlist of their own. Early on there's a scene in our harassed hero's office where he meets the man the gangsters want him to hire, and he's a cheap, leering hood, a nasty example of how his bosses are willing to drag everything decent down to a very unpleasant level, and all for the control and power they are unwilling to relinquish even from a relatively minor character such as Eddie. As he has to meet with Kubik and given a mission to track down his youngest brother to persuade him to give himself up, the fear only tightens its grip and it becomes obvious the bad guys have eyes everywhere. Considering this was essentially a lot of people discussing a problem in various setbound rooms for the most part, it was surprising how tense The Brothers Rico managed to be, testament to the talent behind it. Not first rate, but very accomplished for what it was. Music by George Duning.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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