The Cinema Cafe

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Exploring the Artefacts #10: Main Title Inspirations No. 1 The Brotherhood

Exploring The Artefacts is a series in which I examine some unique and significant components, or by-products, of cinema storytelling that are often under-appreciated. 


This is the first in a series celebrating the creative artists who contribute to a work's formal introduction. Occasionally this display of inspirational energy can be sustained throughout a film's running time. Often it can't, but this shouldn't diminish one's appreciation for the tremendous talent behind some wildly captivating title credits that could have otherwise been a dull, distracting way of simply identifying those responsible for what we are experiencing.


The Brotherhood (1968)

Director: Martin Ritt

Old school Mafioso Frank Ginetta (effectively played by Kirk Douglas) finds out that someone has arrived at the airport in Palermo, Sicily to kill him. He doesn't yet know that it's his younger brother Vince (blandly portrayed by Alex Cord). The pizzazz of these opening credits is due primarily to Lalo Schifrin's score: uniquely inspired orchestrations, rhythmically driving, thematically intricate and engaging. The music is perfectly matched to Frank Bracht's editing of some exciting on location second-unit photography by Francesco Cinieri. Unfortunately, the film's spirited opening isn't fully sustained over the rest of the picture despite some fine performances especially from Luther Adler, an intense execution scene including its prelude, plus other intriguing and authentic dramatic conflicts. The main weakness here is the under-developed character of Cord's Vince Ginetta, a crucial narrative figure which leaves the film's climactic resolution dramatically underwhelming. This perhaps accounted for The Brotherhood's box office failure, and subsequent to that, Paramount's strong reticence to make another film about organised crime, The Godfather (1972). 


Here is the spirited main titles sequence from The Brotherhood



Next Time: In Main Title Inspirations No. 2, another opening titles sequence ironically not intended as such by Orson Welles, the film's primary author, Touch of Evil.