The Brothers Karamazov is a 1958 film made by MGM, based on Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov. It was directed by Richard Brooks and produced by Pandro S. Berman. The screenplay was by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Richard Brooks. It was entered into the 1958 Cannes Film Festival. The brothers are played by Yul Brynner, Richard Basehart and William Shatner in his film debut.
|The Brothers Karamazov|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Brooks|
|Produced by||Pandro S. Berman|
|Screenplay by||Julius J. Epstein|
Philip G. Epstein
|Based on||The Brothers Karamazov|
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Lee J. Cobb
|Music by||Bronislau Kaper|
|Edited by||John D. Dunning|
The story follows Fyodor, the patriarch of the Karamazov family, and his sons. When he tries to decide on an heir, the tensions between the brothers run high, leading to infighting and murder.
Marilyn Monroe was rumored to be in negotiations to play the role of Grushenka, but several conflicting accounts arose around the time the film entered production. An MGM executive said she'd turned down the role in part because she was expecting a baby, but Monroe's agent denied this and claimed that the studio had never even made her an offer. Richard Brooks said that Monroe would have made a "fine" Grushenka, but claimed that negotiations fell through "because of her contractual demands and personal troubles." Carroll Baker was the next choice for the role, but Warner Bros. put her on suspension and would not loan her out after she refused to play Diana Barrymore in Too Much, Too Soon. Maria Schell stepped in instead, making her American film debut.
Contemporary reviews were mixed to positive. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote, "Except for a halfway happy ending that blunts the drama's irony, [Brooks] has done a good job of compressing the substance of the book ... But most of all, Mr. Brooks and Mr. Berman have put upon the screen a large splash of vigorous drama and passion involving interesting, robust characters." Variety declared, "Sumptuous and sensitive MGM production by Pandro S. Berman doesn't sacrifice art to entertainment nor lose entertainment in a false conception of what constitutes art. 'The Brothers Karamazov' should be one of the year's commercial successes." Harrison's Reports wrote: ""Excellent is the word for this absorbing and vigorous screen version of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's epic novel ... The acting is superb, with brilliant performances turned in by Lee J. Cobb, as the lecherous and crafty father, and by Yul Brynner, as his fiery, quick-tempered eldest son." In a generally positive review for the Los Angeles Times, Philip K. Scheuer called Brynner's performance "impressive" and wrote that Lee J. Cobb as Fyodor "succeeds in striking a recognizable and responsive chord with an audience," but found that Maria Schell's Grushenka was played "with a persisting Mona Lisa smile that I felt was not only foreign to the role of the materialistic, venal harlot but was also incomprehensibly at variance with her changing moods." John McCarten of The New Yorker declared that the film "goes on for about two and a half hours, most of which you'd be better off spending at some more rewarding pursuit ... I think that Mr. Brooks, in addition to being saddled with actors who just can't stand up to the obligations they've assumed, never quite grapples with the ideas that Dostoevski was trying to propound." The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote, "There is none of Dostoievsky's profundity or exciting exploration of motive. All the brothers emerge as quite inexplicable people. It is hard to be sympathetic to Dmitri, and not to be embarrassed by Alyosha or scornful of Ivan. The performances throughout suggest that the cast never really knew what it was all about."
According to MGM records the film made $2,390,000 in the US and Canada and $3,050,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $441,000.