Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the crime noir The Brothers Rico.
The Brothers Rico, starring Richard Conte, from a novel by Georges Simenon, Columbia Pictures, 1957
No question crime doesn’t pay, doesn’t pay on the hard mean Italian back streets of New York City, the hard back streets of Irish North Adamsville, or the hard back streets of French-Canadian Olde Saco. Still guys, solid guys too, will take a leap of fate and try to defy the odds. Why? Well, it beats, shoveling burgers off the rack in some hash joint. It beats getting your hands (and hair) all messed up and smelly in some grease pit gas jockey job. And it sure as hell beats stocking some shelves in some grocery store trying to figure out how high to put the cans of tuna fish. And most of all it beats small dreams, real small dreams of cold water flats, a bunch of kids to feed (or not, when times are tough), and waiting in the cold for the city bus to come by. Ya, take the leap, no questions asked.
Of course the above is quite a mouthful just to introduce a second tier 1950s (1957 to be exact) crime noir, The Brothers Rico, even if it was an adaptation from one of the great crime novel writers, Georges Simenon.
I will get to the reason for the big built up in a moment after I give you the “skinny” on the plot line. See, back in the bad back streets New York City day, Mama Rico stopped a bullet, and has the limp to prove it, to save one king hell king crime boss, thereafter known as Uncle Sid. In appreciation, no questions asked, as each of her three sons came of age he employed them in one or another of his “businesses,” starting with Eddie. Eddie did his time and got out of the rackets somehow. The other two boys were still plugging away for Uncle Sid.
And therein lays the crux of the problem. As the younger boys stepped up they got involved in gangland executions and something went awry. Very awry (sic, maybe). The youngest brother flew the coop and had not been heard from since. And the middle son will not squeal. This action makes crime bosses, especially middle level crime bosses like Uncle Sid, very nervous. Reason? The old time “stoolie” factor. So Uncle Sid enlisted comfortably retired Eddie to bring younger brother back. Of course times had changed for the Ricos and Sid simply used Eddie as a bloodhound to get that damn younger brother. Well he does. And in the end the earth is short two formerly high-flying Rico Brothers. Also, after Eddie wised up to Sid’s role, one less middle level crime boss.
Now to the cautionary tale that I have drawn, and maybe only me alone have drawn, out of this crime noir. Hard back alley New York Rico Brothers streets produced only one survivor. Hard back alley North Adamsville (that’s in Massachusetts, okay) streets produced only one survivor out of three brothers (my old friend Peter Paul Markin), the other two fell to some low-rent criminal stuff. And hard back alley Olde Saco (that’ s up in Maine) produced only one survivor out of three brothers (me), the other two fell to high end criminal stuff. I could probably give other examples from other back alleys as well. Real or fiction that is a hell of a price for society to impose just for being born on the wrong side of the tracks, or wrong something. End of sermon,