Brotherly Love


1h 52m 1970

Brief Synopsis

A woman's marriage is destroyed by her incestuous relationship with her brother.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
Country Dance
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Apr 1970
Production Company
Keep Films; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures; Windward Films
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Country Dance by James Kennaway (London, 27 Jun 1967) and his novel Household Guests (London, 1961).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Synopsis

Sir Charles (Pink) and his sister Hilary, who is separated from her husband, live on a farm in Scotland. One day at a sheep auction, Hilary runs into Douglas, her husband, and discovers that they are still in love, and she asks him to meet her at a country dance that night. Pink learns of his sister's plan and plots to prevent their reconciliation; at the dance, he constantly interposes himself between Hilary and Douglas. When Rosie, a former maid on Pink's farm, arrives and asks Hilary the whereabouts of Douglas, Hilary comes to the conclusion that Douglas is the father of Rosie's illegitimate child. She confronts Douglas with this information, but before he can deny the accusation, Hilary goes on a spree and first propositions the band leader, but settles for Jock, the local constable who is the real father of Rosie's child. On his way to a duck hunt the next day, Pink discovers Hilary sleeping in his car, and she confesses her actions of the previous night. Pink, realizing that he is about to lose her, shoots his ear off at the hunt in an attempt to elicit sympathy from her. Reduced to alcoholic desperation, Pink confesses his incestuous love for Hilary. Douglas and Hilary, who have agreed to a reconciliation, decide that they have no choice but to commit Pink to a mental institution.

Film Details

Also Known As
Country Dance
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Apr 1970
Production Company
Keep Films; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures; Windward Films
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Country Dance by James Kennaway (London, 27 Jun 1967) and his novel Household Guests (London, 1961).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Articles

Brotherly Love


Brotherly Love has carried several titles over the years. First it was a 1961 novel called Household Ghosts, penned by James Kennaway, a British author and playwright. He changed the title to Country Dance when he adapted it for the stage, but somehow it became The Same Skin during production of the film version, then changed to Brotherly Love in time for the picture's 1970 premiere.

For some, the uncertainty over what to call the picture foreshadowed the uncertainty of its story and style. The movie tries to perform a delicate balancing act, poised between the comedy generated by its unorthodox main characters and the tragedy that grows out of their psychological instability. Neither the film as a whole, directed by J. Lee Thompson, nor many of its individual scenes, despite energetic work by Peter O'Toole and Susannah York, consistently rise to the challenge. But watching them try can be very interesting.

The character played by O'Toole has a daunting name of his own: Sir Charles Henry Arbuthnot Pinkerton Ferguson, known as Pink to his friends. Although he comes from upper-crust Scottish stock, mental and emotional problems have reduced him to living in a ramshackle house on a dairy farm owned by his family. York plays his sister Hilary, who's come to stay with him after a serious quarrel with Douglas, her handsome husband.

At the beginning of the film, Hilary travels from the farm to a sheep auction that her estranged husband is also attending. Realizing she's still strongly attracted to him, she agrees to meet him at a country dance for a rendezvous and maybe a reconciliation. But she doesn't reckon on the full force of Pink's attachment to her. Showing up at the dance in a semi-drunken daze, he finds one dizzy way after another to keep Hilary and Douglas apart. Finally he convinces Hilary that her seemingly proper husband has slept with a lowly maid, fathering a child by her. Hilary takes revenge on Douglas by spending the night with a man who happens to be the illegitimate kid's actual dad. Hearing about this tryst from Hilary the next morning, Pink fears she's leaving his life for good. The shock is so profound that it knocks his precarious mental equilibrium for a loop, sending him into what could be a fatal emotional tailspin.

Even a brief synopsis indicates the many divergent moods that Brotherly Love has to put across. The shenanigans of Pink and Hilary aim for laughs in some scenes while conveying pathos and even danger in others. There's nothing funny about their secret past, and there's even less amusement in the dark cloud it casts over their adult lives; yet their hidden love clearly grew from the same irreverent personality traits that make them endearing at times. The film's most moving and surprising scene is the uncompromising conclusion, but for all its power, its despairing tone conflicts with much of the material preceding it. Added up, this is a lot for actors to cope with.

O'Toole and York certainly give it their all. O'Toole built an important part of his reputation playing characters who take a long, broad view of life, most famously in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and in two pictures-Becket (1964) and The Lion in Winter (1968)--where he played King Henry II, earning two Academy Award nominations in the process. Pink is more a weirdo than a philosopher, but he does see the world in terms very different from the ones most of us subscribe to, and O'Toole makes no effort to dilute or soften his ornery nature.

As a one-time student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and a veteran of the Bristol Old Vic theater company, O'Toole also had good credentials for handling the stagy elements running through the film, left over from its previous incarnation as a play. He plays Pink with an over-the-top gusto that would surely look great from the second balcony, even if it seems a tad hammy on the screen. York, also a RADA grad with impressive stage experience, started her movie career in the excellent 1960 military drama Tunes of Glory, also adapted by Kennaway from one of his novels. She gives Brotherly Love a psychological center of gravity that helps unify its contradictory ingredients.

Thompson was a versatile director, with credits ranging from The Guns of Navarone (1961) and the original Cape Fear (1962) in the early 1960s to a pair of Planet of the Apes sequels and various low-budget quickies in the later stage of his career. Widely respected for his skill at working with actors, he was a solid craftsman able to combine movie realism with a sense of theatricality and a commitment to clear-cut storytelling. Brotherly Love ranks with his more ambitious assignments, and he handles it in a workmanlike way.

Brotherly Love wasn't well received when it was new. In one perceptive review, New York Times critic Vincent Canby noted that we never see the outside of the farmhouse where much of the action takes place, and conversely, we never get a convincing glimpse of what's happening inside the main characters' minds. Time magazine was less gentle. O'Toole always starts twitching when he's exasperated with a project, the reviewer claimed, and this picture is so awful that he "appears to be in almost continual spasm from beginning to end."

Writing years later, however, critic Stanley Kauffman named Brotherly Love, along with Lawrence of Arabia and The Ruling Class (1972), as movies that revealed O'Toole's potential to become "one of the great actors in history." Seen alongside his more recent work, most notably in the poignant Venus (2006), this much earlier performance offers rich material to compare and contrast.

Producer: Robert Emmett Ginna
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Screenplay: James Kennaway, based on his novel Household Ghosts and his play Country Dance
Cinematographer: Ted Moore
Film Editing: Willy Kemplen
Art Direction: Maurice Fowler
Music: John Addison
With: Peter O'Toole (Sir Charles Ferguson), Susannah York (Hilary Dow), Michael Craig (Douglas Dow), Harry Andrews (Brigadier Crieff), Cyril Cusack (Dr. Maitland), Judy Cornwell (Rosie), Brian Blessed (Jock Baird), Robert Urquhart (auctioneer), Mark Malicz (Benny-the-Pole), Lennox Milne (Miss Mailer), Jean Anderson (matron), Rona Newton-John (Miss Scott), Marjorie Christie (Bun Mackenzie), Marjorie Dalziel (Bank Lizzie), Helena Gloag (Auntie Belle), Roy Boutcher (James McLachlan Forbes), Ewan Roberts (committee member), Peter Reeves (Smart Alec), Paul Farrell (Alec-the-Gillie), Alex McAvoy (Andrew).
C-112m.

by David Sterritt
Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love has carried several titles over the years. First it was a 1961 novel called Household Ghosts, penned by James Kennaway, a British author and playwright. He changed the title to Country Dance when he adapted it for the stage, but somehow it became The Same Skin during production of the film version, then changed to Brotherly Love in time for the picture's 1970 premiere. For some, the uncertainty over what to call the picture foreshadowed the uncertainty of its story and style. The movie tries to perform a delicate balancing act, poised between the comedy generated by its unorthodox main characters and the tragedy that grows out of their psychological instability. Neither the film as a whole, directed by J. Lee Thompson, nor many of its individual scenes, despite energetic work by Peter O'Toole and Susannah York, consistently rise to the challenge. But watching them try can be very interesting. The character played by O'Toole has a daunting name of his own: Sir Charles Henry Arbuthnot Pinkerton Ferguson, known as Pink to his friends. Although he comes from upper-crust Scottish stock, mental and emotional problems have reduced him to living in a ramshackle house on a dairy farm owned by his family. York plays his sister Hilary, who's come to stay with him after a serious quarrel with Douglas, her handsome husband.

TCM Remembers - J. Lee Thompson


TCM REMEMBERS J. LEE THOMPSON, 1914 - 2002

Oscar-nominated director J. Lee Thompson died August 30th at the age of 88. Though he worked in several genres, Thompson was best-known for his action films. Thompson was born in Bristol England on August 1, 1914. After graduating from college he became a playwright and it was the appearance of one of his plays on London's famous West End that got him noticed by the British film studio, Elstree. His first filmed script was The Pride of Folly in 1937 and others appeared sporadically until his career was side-tracked during the war when Thompson served in the RAF as a B-29 tail gunner. (He also reportedly worked as a dialogue coach on Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn, 1939.) Thompson's directorial debut came in 1950 when he adapted his own play Double Error to the screen as Murder Without Crime. Throughout the decade he directed a variety of dramas and comedies until hitting it big in 1958 with Ice Cold in Alex (released in the US minus 50 minutes under the title Desert Attack). It was nominated for three BAFTAs and was enough of a commercial success that Thompson landed the film that made his career: The Guns of Navarone (1961). This enormous international hit snagged Thompson an Oscar nomination for Best Director. He immediately followed that with the original Cape Fear (1962) and his reputation was set. Though Thompson remained active almost three more decades he didn't reach that level again. He worked on Westerns (Mackenna's Gold, 1969), horror films (Eye of the Devil, 1967), literary adaptations (Huckleberry Finn, 1974) and others. During this time, Thompson directed two Planet of the Apes sequels but was kept most busy working with Charles Bronson, for whom he directed nine films. Thompson's last film was in 1989.

KATRIN CARTLIDGE, 1961 - 2002

The news of actress Katrin Cartlidge's death at the age of 41 has come as a shock. It's not just the age but the thought that even though Cartlidge was already a major actress--despite a slender filmography--she held out the promise of even greater work, a promise that so few artists of any type can make. "Fearless" is perhaps the word most often used to describe Cartlidge but emotions are never enough for an actor; much more is required. Director Mike Leigh said she had "the objective eye of an artist" while remarking on her "her deep-seated suspicion of all forms of woolly thinking and received ideas."

Cartlidge was born in London on May 15, 1961. Her first acting work was on the stage, in tiny independent theatres before she was selected by Peter Gill for the National Theatre. Cartlidge also worked as a dresser at the Royal Court where she later made one of her final stage appearances. She began appearing in the popular British TV series Brookside before making her first film in 1985, Sacred Hearts. A small role in the Robbie Coltrane-Rik Mayall vehicle Eat the Rich (1987) followed before Cartlidge had her first leading role in Mike Leigh's scathing Naked (1993).

Cartlidge never took a safe approach in her films. She told The Guardian that "I try to work with film-makers who I feel will produce something original, revealing and provoking. If something provokes a reaction, it's well worth doing." You can see this in her choice of projects. Before the Rain (1994) dramatized violence in Macedonia in the wake of the Yugoslavian break-up and made Cartlidge something of a star in the area. She appeared in Lars Von Trier's controversial look at redemption, Breaking the Waves (1996), Leigh's sharply detailed story of aging friends Career Girls (1997), as one of Jack the Ripper's victims in From Hell (2001), as a call girl trying to leave the business in Clair Dolan (1998) and in the Oscar-winning film about Bosnia-Herzegovina, No Man's Land (2001). Her last work included a BBC adaptation of Crime and Punishment (2002), playing Salvador Dali's wife Gala in the BBC comedy-drama Surrealissimo (2002) and an appearance in Rosanna Arquette's directorial debut, Searching for Debra Winger (also 2002), a documentary about women in the film industry.

Cartlidge died September 7th from septicaemia brought on by pneumonia.

TCM REMEMBERS LEO MCKERN, 1920-2002

The recent death of Leo McKern, 82, marked the passing of one of Britain's finest and most respected character actors. He was suffering from ill health in recent years and was moved to a nursing home a few weeks before his death on July 23 2002 in Bath, England. An actor of commanding presence with a deep-throated voice, the portly, bulbous-nosed McKern had a long, distinguished career spanning more than half a century, earning numerous plaudits along the way in all major mediums: theatre, film and television.

Born Reginald McKern on March 16, 1920 in Sydney, Australia; he served with the Australian Army during World War II and worked in regional theatre in his native Sydney before immigrating to England in 1946. It was a slow start, but after a three-year apprenticeship of painting scenery, stage-managing and acting, McKern eventually joined the celebrated Old Vic theatrical company in 1949 and proved one of the more versatile actors in the troupe tackling diverse roles in comedy, the classics and serious contemporary parts.

His film debut came in Murder in the Cathedral (1952) but it took a few years before he made his mark in cinema. Some of his best film work included roles as Peter Sellers' comic henchman in the classic satire The Mouse That Roared (1959); a bungling train robber in the charming Disney film The Horse Without a Head (1963); a nefarious professor who kills off his colleagues for amusement in the brilliant black comedy A Jolly Bad Fellow (1964); Clang, a cartoonish villain in the Beatles' pop film Help! (1965); Cromwell, the persecutor of Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons (1966) and as Thomas Ryan in the David Lean drama, Ryan's Daughter (1970).

Yet despite all the accolades McKern earned in theatre and films, it was television where he foundinternational fame as the wily, irascible barrister Horace P. Rumpole in John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey in 1975. Infusing the character with beguiling skill and energy, McKern made the acerbic, wine swilling, Tennyson-quoting Rumpole a much loved figure that was adored by critics, audiences and even its creator Mortimer. Perhaps Mortimer offered the most fitting tribute when he once referred to McKern - "His acting exists where I always hope my writing will be: about two feet above the ground, a little larger than life, but always taking off from reality." Enough said.

By Michael T. Toole

TCM Remembers - J. Lee Thompson

TCM REMEMBERS J. LEE THOMPSON, 1914 - 2002 Oscar-nominated director J. Lee Thompson died August 30th at the age of 88. Though he worked in several genres, Thompson was best-known for his action films. Thompson was born in Bristol England on August 1, 1914. After graduating from college he became a playwright and it was the appearance of one of his plays on London's famous West End that got him noticed by the British film studio, Elstree. His first filmed script was The Pride of Folly in 1937 and others appeared sporadically until his career was side-tracked during the war when Thompson served in the RAF as a B-29 tail gunner. (He also reportedly worked as a dialogue coach on Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn, 1939.) Thompson's directorial debut came in 1950 when he adapted his own play Double Error to the screen as Murder Without Crime. Throughout the decade he directed a variety of dramas and comedies until hitting it big in 1958 with Ice Cold in Alex (released in the US minus 50 minutes under the title Desert Attack). It was nominated for three BAFTAs and was enough of a commercial success that Thompson landed the film that made his career: The Guns of Navarone (1961). This enormous international hit snagged Thompson an Oscar nomination for Best Director. He immediately followed that with the original Cape Fear (1962) and his reputation was set. Though Thompson remained active almost three more decades he didn't reach that level again. He worked on Westerns (Mackenna's Gold, 1969), horror films (Eye of the Devil, 1967), literary adaptations (Huckleberry Finn, 1974) and others. During this time, Thompson directed two Planet of the Apes sequels but was kept most busy working with Charles Bronson, for whom he directed nine films. Thompson's last film was in 1989. KATRIN CARTLIDGE, 1961 - 2002 The news of actress Katrin Cartlidge's death at the age of 41 has come as a shock. It's not just the age but the thought that even though Cartlidge was already a major actress--despite a slender filmography--she held out the promise of even greater work, a promise that so few artists of any type can make. "Fearless" is perhaps the word most often used to describe Cartlidge but emotions are never enough for an actor; much more is required. Director Mike Leigh said she had "the objective eye of an artist" while remarking on her "her deep-seated suspicion of all forms of woolly thinking and received ideas." Cartlidge was born in London on May 15, 1961. Her first acting work was on the stage, in tiny independent theatres before she was selected by Peter Gill for the National Theatre. Cartlidge also worked as a dresser at the Royal Court where she later made one of her final stage appearances. She began appearing in the popular British TV series Brookside before making her first film in 1985, Sacred Hearts. A small role in the Robbie Coltrane-Rik Mayall vehicle Eat the Rich (1987) followed before Cartlidge had her first leading role in Mike Leigh's scathing Naked (1993). Cartlidge never took a safe approach in her films. She told The Guardian that "I try to work with film-makers who I feel will produce something original, revealing and provoking. If something provokes a reaction, it's well worth doing." You can see this in her choice of projects. Before the Rain (1994) dramatized violence in Macedonia in the wake of the Yugoslavian break-up and made Cartlidge something of a star in the area. She appeared in Lars Von Trier's controversial look at redemption, Breaking the Waves (1996), Leigh's sharply detailed story of aging friends Career Girls (1997), as one of Jack the Ripper's victims in From Hell (2001), as a call girl trying to leave the business in Clair Dolan (1998) and in the Oscar-winning film about Bosnia-Herzegovina, No Man's Land (2001). Her last work included a BBC adaptation of Crime and Punishment (2002), playing Salvador Dali's wife Gala in the BBC comedy-drama Surrealissimo (2002) and an appearance in Rosanna Arquette's directorial debut, Searching for Debra Winger (also 2002), a documentary about women in the film industry. Cartlidge died September 7th from septicaemia brought on by pneumonia. TCM REMEMBERS LEO MCKERN, 1920-2002 The recent death of Leo McKern, 82, marked the passing of one of Britain's finest and most respected character actors. He was suffering from ill health in recent years and was moved to a nursing home a few weeks before his death on July 23 2002 in Bath, England. An actor of commanding presence with a deep-throated voice, the portly, bulbous-nosed McKern had a long, distinguished career spanning more than half a century, earning numerous plaudits along the way in all major mediums: theatre, film and television. Born Reginald McKern on March 16, 1920 in Sydney, Australia; he served with the Australian Army during World War II and worked in regional theatre in his native Sydney before immigrating to England in 1946. It was a slow start, but after a three-year apprenticeship of painting scenery, stage-managing and acting, McKern eventually joined the celebrated Old Vic theatrical company in 1949 and proved one of the more versatile actors in the troupe tackling diverse roles in comedy, the classics and serious contemporary parts. His film debut came in Murder in the Cathedral (1952) but it took a few years before he made his mark in cinema. Some of his best film work included roles as Peter Sellers' comic henchman in the classic satire The Mouse That Roared (1959); a bungling train robber in the charming Disney film The Horse Without a Head (1963); a nefarious professor who kills off his colleagues for amusement in the brilliant black comedy A Jolly Bad Fellow (1964); Clang, a cartoonish villain in the Beatles' pop film Help! (1965); Cromwell, the persecutor of Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons (1966) and as Thomas Ryan in the David Lean drama, Ryan's Daughter (1970). Yet despite all the accolades McKern earned in theatre and films, it was television where he foundinternational fame as the wily, irascible barrister Horace P. Rumpole in John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey in 1975. Infusing the character with beguiling skill and energy, McKern made the acerbic, wine swilling, Tennyson-quoting Rumpole a much loved figure that was adored by critics, audiences and even its creator Mortimer. Perhaps Mortimer offered the most fitting tribute when he once referred to McKern - "His acting exists where I always hope my writing will be: about two feet above the ground, a little larger than life, but always taking off from reality." Enough said. By Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Location scenes filmed in Wicklow County (Ireland) and Perthshire (Scotland). Opened in London in March 1971 as Country Dance.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1970

Released in United States 1970