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The Brothers (1947 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Brothers
"The Brothers" (1947).jpg
Original British 1-sheet poster
Directed byDavid MacDonald
Produced bySydney Box
Written byMuriel Box
Sydney Box
Paul Vincent Carroll
David MacDonald
LAG Strong
Based onnovel by LAG Strong
StarringPatricia Roc
Will Fyffe
Maxwell Reed
Finlay Currie
John Laurie
Music byCedric Thorpe Davie
CinematographyStephen Dade
Edited byVladimir Sagovsky
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors (UK)
Universal Pictures (USA)
Release date
7 July 1947
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£110,000 (by July 1953)[1]

The Brothers is a British film melodrama of 1947, starring Patricia Roc and John Laurie, from a novel of the same name by L. A. G. Strong.[2]


It is set in the Western Isles of Scotland, and the long and murderous grudge between two clans there, the Macraes and McFarishes. Patricia Roc plays a serving girl, whose arrival to work for the Macraes reinflames the conflict and causes an internal power-struggle between two brothers in the Macrae clan (played by Maxwell Reed and Duncan Macrae).




L. A. G. Strong's novel was published in 1932.[3] Strong was friends with David MacDonald and in 1936 they agreed to make a film of the novel together. Plans were delayed a number of years until after the war, during which time MacDonald established himself as a leading documentarian. MacDonald took the project to Sydney Box who was enthusiastic about making it.

Box wanted Ann Todd, star of The Seventh Veil, to play the lead, as the second part of the two-picture million dollar contract she signed in the wake of the success of The Seventh Veil. Daybreak was to be the first and in March 1946 Box said he hoped to star Todd in The Brothers after that film.[4]

Box wanted Emlyn Williams to play John and Michael Redgrave to play Fergus. Emlyn Williams dropped out and was replaced by Eric Porter. Porter refused to make a film with Todd and was replaced by Duncan Macrae. Redgrave dropped out to make Fame is the Spur and was replaced by Maxwell Reed.[5] Todd did not want to work with Reed as she had not enjoyed working with him on Daybreak[6] Patricia Roc played the role instead.[7] Roc was reluctant to take a role refused by Todd but eventually agreed. Her fee was £5,000.[6] (Roc had reportedly been kicked off Diggers Republic – which became Diamond City – because of her involvement in a divorce scandal. She made the film after shooting Canyon Passage in Hollywood.[8])

MacDonald knew the film would be troublesome censorwise because of the material. "We hope to get by in the French way", said MacDonald. "Rape, murder and nature, that's about all."[9]


The unit moved to the Isle of Skye in July 1947. Roc ended up enjoying working on the film and said the role was her favourite, in part because of an eight-week location shoot on the Isle of Skye.[6][10] Studio work took place at Shepherds Bush in September 1946.[11]

US Version

The film encountered censorship challenges for its release in the US, in part because of its depiction of illicit whisky manufacturing.[12] However Sydney Box managed to get the film passed by the US censors by adding some shots where detectives arrived on the island to break the operation, and filming an ending where the hero and heroine – the "good" characters – survived instead of being murdered.[13]

There were three main changes:[14]

  • removal of a seduction scene on a beach
  • changing the original tragic ending (Patricia Roc is killed by her lover) to a happier one (she survives)
  • addition of a scene where John Laurie admits the collective guilt of the fisherman in the death of a man
  • Duncan Macrae is no longer executed by fishermen - it is implied he will be punished legally

Critical reception

Variety said called it "Starkly uncompromising... No attempt has been made to win favor of those who cannot stomach a grim story, and even the contemplated happy ending (not in the book) has been discarded in favor of one more logical, It will not be everybody's entertainment, and will do best with discriminating au-diences here and in the U. S. Drawing cards are a fine cast, good story, grand direction and splendid camera work and music score. Patricia Roc contributes her best performance to date, and newcomer Maxwell Reed, establishes himself in a part that would have been a natural for James Mason."[15]

The Radio Times wrote, "while Stephen Dade's images of Skye are highly evocative, precious little passion is generated by orphaned Patricia Roc and Andrew Crawford, even though she's the housekeeper of his deadliest rival (Finlay Currie). Part of the problem is the straightlaced nature of postwar British cinema, which kept emotions firmly in check.;[16] while The New York Times wrote, "Patricia Roc is lovely in form and grace, but her hair-dos, her dresses and her expressions smack more of Elstree than of the Hebrides";[17] and TV Guide called the film a "fair effort with technical talent outweighing the performers";[18] but Eye for Film found the film "startlingly bold and suggestive for its time...surprisingly gripping."[19]

Box office

The film incurred an estimated loss of £55,700.[1]

Reputation Today

The film's reputation has risen in recent years. An article in The Scotsman praised the film saying:

There is sex, there is violence, there is nudity and there is one of the most shocking killings ever portrayed in a mainstream movie. An informer, who has reported illicit whisky trafficking, is bound hand and foot, with cork floats under his armpits and a fish tied to his cap. He is then sent bobbing out to sea, to await a passing seabird that will spot the fish and dive hundreds of feet to pierce fish, cap and skull in a single fatal movement....The Brothers is... the skeleton in the cupboard no-one talks about. It bears more resemblance to a Quentin Tarantino film than one by Powell and Pressburger.[20]

Producer Christopher Young said "It's slightly bizarre, some very good performances, fantastic cinematography, but quite a strange script, really quite dark."[20]

External links


  1. ^ a b c Andrew Spicer, Sydney Box Manchester Uni Press 2006 p 210
  2. ^ "The Brothers". BFI. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012.
  3. ^ ""THE BROTHERS:" A STRIKING NOVEL BY L. A. G. STRONG". The Sydney Morning Herald (29, 368). New South Wales, Australia. 19 February 1932. p. 5. Retrieved 11 October 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ NOTED IN THE LONDON STUDIOS: Scenes From Recent Film Arrivals in First-Run Houses By C.A. LEJEUNE. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]17 Mar 1946: X3.
  5. ^ "Film Stars In The News--A "Sun" Thursday Feature". The Sun (11, 395) (LATE FINAL EXTRA ed.). Sydney. 1 August 1946. p. 15. Retrieved 7 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ a b c Hodgson, Michael (2013). Patricia Roc. Author House. pp. 104–105. ISBN 9781481769402.
  7. ^ "Hollywood Fanfare by Pa[?]cia Clarey". Northern Star. New South Wales, Australia. 17 September 1946. p. 8. Retrieved 7 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ "STUDIO COMEBACK". The Daily News. LXIV (22, 294) (FIRST ed.). Western Australia. 21 September 1946. p. 23. Retrieved 7 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ C.A. LEJEUNE. (25 August 1946). "BUSY DAYS IN LONDON: Film Studios Move Into High Gear, With Full Schedule of Pictures Under Way Films Coming Up In Father's Footsteps Notes in Brief". New York Times. p. 51.
  10. ^ "British Films Booming". The Daily News. LXIV (22, 348) (HOME ed.). Western Australia. 23 November 1946. p. 10. Retrieved 7 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ FILM NOTES FROM LONDON: Epic of Resistance Busy Mr. Box Safari By C.A. LEJEUNE. New York Times 29 Sep 1946: 68.
  12. ^ THOMAS F. BRADY (25 August 1947). "TOUCH OF VENUS' READY FOR FILMS: Artists Alliance to Produce Musical at the U-I Studios -- Star Not Yet Named". New York Times. p. 13.
  13. ^ THOMAS F. BRADY. (31 August 1947). "RANDOM NOTES ON ACTIVITIES IN HOLLYWOOD: Capra Alters 'State of the Union' -- The Censors Satisfied -- Actors to Vote". New York Times. p. X3.
  14. ^ THE BROTHERS Anonymous. Film History; Sydney Vol. 15, Iss. 3, (2003): 285-286.
  15. ^ Review of film at Variety
  16. ^ David Parkinson. "The Brothers". RadioTimes.
  17. ^ "Movie Review – The Brothers – ON THE SCREEN; 'The Brothers,' New British Film Starring Patricia Roc, Has Its Premiere at Sutton". NY Times.
  18. ^ "The Brothers". TV Guide.
  19. ^ "The Brothers".
  20. ^ a b "A history of violence". The Scotsman. 27 December 2007.
This page was last edited on 16 June 2021, at 23:04
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