Brothers Rico, The (1957)

Brothers Rico, The (1957)

“We’re all brothers, aren’t we? Did that ever stop anything?”

A former accountant (Richard Conte) for the mafia finds his happy life with his wife (Dianne Foster) disrupted when he learns that his mob-involved brothers, Johnny (James Darren) and Gino (Paul Picerni), have disappeared, and he must help locate them.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Mafia
  • Phil Karlson Films
  • Richard Conte Films
  • Siblings

Phil Karlson directed numerous effective noir thrillers — including Kansas City Confidential (1952), The Phenix City Story (1955), and this fast-paced flick about the near-impossibility of extricating oneself from the mob. Working with a script by Lewis Meltzer and Ben Perry (based on a story by Georges Simenon), Karlson opens the film by showing us the disruption of marital near-bliss between Conte and Foster, who is appropriately wary when a phone call from mob boss Sid Kubik (Larry Gates) wakes them up at night.

Conte tries to reassure Foster that she comes first in his life, to which she responds, “I know what I am to you: I’m your wife, twice almost the mother of your children.”

This pointed statement swiftly sets up the primary narrative tension for this couple: that is, their inability to have biological kids of their own and their desire to adopt, which may be in jeopardy if Conte doesn’t keep his nose completely clean. Unfortunately, he’s unable to stay away when he learns his brothers are in trouble (this is at heart a movie about the bonds of family):

… and we sympathize with Foster as she watches her husband slip ever deeper back into old, unwanted obligations.

The storyline takes us on a tense ride from Conte being told he needs to accommodate a hitman (William Phipps) lying low:

… to Conte’s brother Gino (Picerni) finding him and pleading for help in getting him out of the country:

… to Conte meeting with “Uncle Sid” Kubik and falsely believing Kubik has his family’s best interests at heart:

… to Conte visiting his religious mother (Argentina Brunetti) and dying grandma (Mimi Aguglia) and finally learning where his brother Johnny is hiding out.

Conte’s trip out to California to visit Johnny (Darren) and his pregnant wife Norah (Kathryn Grant) represents a significant turning point in events:

… and I won’t share more at risk of spoiling. Suffice it to say this film merits a look — and perhaps another one — to enjoy its well-plotted narrative.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Richard Conte as Eddie Rico
  • Burnett Guffey’s cinematography

Must See?
Yes, as a taut thriller.


  • Good Show
  • Important Director


One thought on “Brothers Rico, The (1957)

  1. (Rewatch 2/16/22.) Must-see, as a representative ’50s thriller. As posted in ‘The ’40s-’50s in Film’ (fb):

    “Eddie… don’t trust nobody and – and take care of your brother.”

    ‘The Brothers Rico’ (1957): Any number of times, I have sat through films that were about 90 minutes long yet felt like 3 hours. That’s never good. A movie that’s about an hour and a half should be like… well, like a top-class hooker: you’re in, you have a really great time, and then you’re out! It should be over before you know it. And it should be a memorable experience – like the very best *are*.

    That’s what ‘TBR’ is like. It’s a simple but sharp, organized-crime thriller that knows its business and knows how to tell its tale lickety-split. From the first scene, there is a feeling of dread – one that builds progressively with almost pressure-cooker urgency.

    Adapted from a story by suspense master Georges Simenon, the film is directed by Phil Karlson – who always seemed to be at his best with this kind of edgy material (as witness ‘Kansas City Confidential’, ’99 River Street’, ‘Five Against the House’, etc.). An added plus here is the cinematography by Burnett Guffey* – a real pro with noir films; he shot 20 of them (including ‘In a Lonely Place’).

    ‘TBR’ stars Richard Conte as one of 3 brothers involved with The Mob. Conte makes the mistake of thinking his own involvement is a matter of back-burner responsibility; none of ‘the rough stuff’. He soon learns that, once you’re in for a penny and in for a pound, it’s *all* rough stuff.

    *Guffey won Oscars for ‘From Here to Eternity’ and ‘Bonnie and Clyde’.

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