The Brothers Karamazov (1958)

146 or 149 mins | Drama | February 1958

Director:

Richard Brooks

Writer:

Richard Brooks

Producer:

Pandro S. Berman

Cinematographer:

John Alton

Editor:

John Dunning

Production Designers:

William A. Horning, Paul Groesse

Production Company:

Avon Productions, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

The onscreen credit for Richard Brooks reads: "Screenplay and Direction by Richard Brooks." The onscreen literary source credit reads: "From the novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky In its English Translation by Constance Garnett." A HR Jan 1955 news item noted that German producer Eugen Frenke was in negotiations with Constantin Films to simultaneously make both an English and German version of The Brothers Karamazov . The article indicated that Niven Busch had already completed a treatment, Philip Yordan would be writing the screenplay and Joan Collins was in consideration for the female lead.
       Frenke had attempted to make the film in 1937 and again in 1942 using Busch's treatment and starring Anna Sten, who had appeared in a version of the Dostoyevsky's novel in 1931 for Germany's Terra Films. A Mar 1947 LAEx news item indicated that M-G-M had purchased the novel rights and Robert Taylor and Van Heflin were to be cast in the film. A Sep 1956 HR item noted that Millard Kaufman was to write the screenplay. According to a 1957 LAT article, Marilyn Monroe was in negotiations with M-G-M for the role of “Grushenka.” Brooks indicated that negotiations with Monroe fell through due to “her contractual demands and personal troubles.” The same article noted that Carroll Baker was also in contention for the role, but could not secure a release from Warner Bros. According to a Jun 1957 HR news item, Yul Brynner suffered a fractured back while practicing strenuous trick riding for the picture. Brooks shot around Brynner for two days, after which the actor insisted on returning to ... More Less

The onscreen credit for Richard Brooks reads: "Screenplay and Direction by Richard Brooks." The onscreen literary source credit reads: "From the novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky In its English Translation by Constance Garnett." A HR Jan 1955 news item noted that German producer Eugen Frenke was in negotiations with Constantin Films to simultaneously make both an English and German version of The Brothers Karamazov . The article indicated that Niven Busch had already completed a treatment, Philip Yordan would be writing the screenplay and Joan Collins was in consideration for the female lead.
       Frenke had attempted to make the film in 1937 and again in 1942 using Busch's treatment and starring Anna Sten, who had appeared in a version of the Dostoyevsky's novel in 1931 for Germany's Terra Films. A Mar 1947 LAEx news item indicated that M-G-M had purchased the novel rights and Robert Taylor and Van Heflin were to be cast in the film. A Sep 1956 HR item noted that Millard Kaufman was to write the screenplay. According to a 1957 LAT article, Marilyn Monroe was in negotiations with M-G-M for the role of “Grushenka.” Brooks indicated that negotiations with Monroe fell through due to “her contractual demands and personal troubles.” The same article noted that Carroll Baker was also in contention for the role, but could not secure a release from Warner Bros. According to a Jun 1957 HR news item, Yul Brynner suffered a fractured back while practicing strenuous trick riding for the picture. Brooks shot around Brynner for two days, after which the actor insisted on returning to the production.
       Several major differences occur between the film and the book. In both, “Dmitri” returns to his hometown for his inheritance, but in the film Dmitri already owes his father a debt, which becomes central to the plot, while in the novel Dmitri owes money to “Katerina.” The novel’s central character is Dmitri’s brother, the apprentice monk “Aloysha,” who questions his own convictions and develops a strong relationship with his mentor Zosima and neighborhood children, while in the film this character, known as “Alexey,” has a smaller role. At the end of the film, “Katya” submits evidence against Dmitri, thus securing his conviction, and his brothers arrange for his escape and reunion with Grushenka, while in the novel this character, known as “Katerina,” assists Dmitri in his escape and reunion.
       In an article he wrote for the NYT in Sep 1957, Brooks discussed the difficulties of condensing the massive novel into script form. Brooks explained that he decided to change the central character from Alyosha to Dmitri because the latter was a more action-oriented character and thus provided the motivating force behind the complex tale. Brooks also felt Dostoyevsky's constant use of flashback was not well suited for the film as a direct story line.
       The Brothers Karamazov was shot on location in London and Paris. The film marked the American film debut for Austrian-Swiss actress Maria Schell (1926--2005), who previously had worked primarily in West German and British productions. The film also marked the feature debut of young Miko Oscard. Lee J. Cobb received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as “Fyodor.” Two German adaptations of The Brothers Karamazov have been made for the screen, one in 1918, and the other, noted above, made in 1931. In 1947 an Italian production was released, directed by Giacomo Gentilomo. In 1968 a Soviet version was produced, co-directed by Mikhail Ulyanov, who also starred in the film. This latter version was distributed in the United States in 1980 by Columbia Pictures.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
24 Feb 58
p. 22.
Box Office
3 Mar 1958.
---
Daily Variety
19 Feb 58
p. 3.
Film Daily
19 Feb 58
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 1956.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1957
p. 2, 5.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 1957
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1957
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1957
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 1957
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 1957
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Feb 58
p. 3.
Life
10 Mar 1958.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
22 Mar 1947.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Jun 1957.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Feb 58
p. 724.
New York Times
29 Sep 1957.
---
New York Times
21 Feb 58
p. 18.
Variety
19 Feb 58
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hair styles
Makeup created by
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Casting
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Bratya Karamazovi (The Brothers Karamazov) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Moscow, 1880), from the English translation by Constance Garnett (New York, 1912).
DETAILS
Release Date:
February 1958
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 20 February 1958
Production Date:
early June--late August 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc. & Avon Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
31 December 1957
Copyright Number:
LP9788
Physical Properties:
Sound
Perspecta Sound and Westrex Recording System
Color
Metrocolor
Duration(in mins):
146 or 149
Length(in feet):
13,105
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18715
SYNOPSIS

In the small Russian town of Ryevsk in 1870, young monk Alexey Karamazov visits his decadent father Fyodor to request money on behalf of his older half-brother Dmitri, an officer in the army. Although Dmitri claims that he inherited the money from his deceased mother, Fyodor denies the assertion, forcing Dmitri to sign loan notes. Maintaining that Dmitri already owes him too much, Fyodor gives Alexey half of the amount that Dmitri has requested. After Alexey delivers the money, Dmitri wrecks a tavern in a brawl, when he is accused of thievery. Back at his apartment, Dmitri is visited by Katya, the daughter of a respected military commander who is liable for five thousand rubles recently stolen from his company headquarters. Having secretly arranged with Dimitri to loan her father money in exchange for sexual favors, Katya prepares to remain the night. Dmitri playfully proposes to Katya, but when she declares that would only further her degradation, Dmitri gives Katya the money and sends her away. Several weeks later, Katya visits Dmitri, who has been arrested for the tavern incident, in a military prison in Moscow to thank him for saving her father from scandal. Despite Dmitri’s confession that he always intended to give her the money, Katya belatedly accepts his earlier proposal and declares her devotion to him. After she reveals that her grandmother has given her a generous dowry on which they can live, Dmitri uncertainly agrees to their betrothal. Katya then asks Dmitri to leave the army, but when she suggests that she can settle his debts with Fyodor, Dmitri refuses. ... +


In the small Russian town of Ryevsk in 1870, young monk Alexey Karamazov visits his decadent father Fyodor to request money on behalf of his older half-brother Dmitri, an officer in the army. Although Dmitri claims that he inherited the money from his deceased mother, Fyodor denies the assertion, forcing Dmitri to sign loan notes. Maintaining that Dmitri already owes him too much, Fyodor gives Alexey half of the amount that Dmitri has requested. After Alexey delivers the money, Dmitri wrecks a tavern in a brawl, when he is accused of thievery. Back at his apartment, Dmitri is visited by Katya, the daughter of a respected military commander who is liable for five thousand rubles recently stolen from his company headquarters. Having secretly arranged with Dimitri to loan her father money in exchange for sexual favors, Katya prepares to remain the night. Dmitri playfully proposes to Katya, but when she declares that would only further her degradation, Dmitri gives Katya the money and sends her away. Several weeks later, Katya visits Dmitri, who has been arrested for the tavern incident, in a military prison in Moscow to thank him for saving her father from scandal. Despite Dmitri’s confession that he always intended to give her the money, Katya belatedly accepts his earlier proposal and declares her devotion to him. After she reveals that her grandmother has given her a generous dowry on which they can live, Dmitri uncertainly agrees to their betrothal. Katya then asks Dmitri to leave the army, but when she suggests that she can settle his debts with Fyodor, Dmitri refuses. Katya bails Dmitri out of prison, and the couple return to Ryevsk where they are welcomed at the train station by Alexey, and his full brother, writer Ivan, and Fyodor and his bastard son Smerdyakov. Later, when Katya presses Ivan for details of Dmitri’s youth, Ivan finds himself attracted to her. Angered by Fyodor’s expectation that he will pay off his notes upon marrying, Dmitri leaves town for several months. During that time, Ivan visits Katya daily, while Fyodor takes up with young, enchanting tavern owner Grushenka. When Dmitri returns to demand his inheritance, Fyodor challenges his son to sue him, knowing that a court scandal would taint Katya. Fyodor then urges Dmitri to marry in order to repay his debts. Exasperated, Dmitri agrees to present his grievances against Fyodor to Father Zossima. Later that evening, Fyodor tells Grushenka of Dmitri’s return and impulsively proposes, reminding her that he thought so much of her that he gave her Dmitri’s notes to collect for herself. Grushenka refuses the proposal, then suggests that she have one of her employees, former army captain Snegiryov, buy all of Dmitri’s debts at half value and demand repayment. As Dmitri will be unable to pay, he will be put in debtor’s prison, leaving Fyodor to legally keep Dmitri’s inheritance. Later, upon learning that Snegiryov has purchased his debts, Dmitri confronts him in the street, humiliating the frail, older man in front of his young son Illusha. Snegiryov confesses to acting on behalf of Grushenka, who is league with Fyodor. Dmitri angrily tells Katya of his father’s latest ploy and she again offers to pay off the loans. When Dmitri refuses, she asks him to mail a letter to her father that contains three thousand rubles, knowing that Dimitri will keep the money for himself. Dmitri sets off to confront Grushenka, but is unexpectedly captivated by her radiant charm. The two ride to an out-of-town tavern where Dmitri spends Katya’s money. When Dmitri tells Grushenka that he will never marry Katya, Grushenka forgives him the debts she holds. Over the next several weeks the two embark on a passionate affair. When Dmitri meets with Fyodor and Father Zossima, Fyodor berates him for the false inheritance claim and for his flagrant romance with Grushenka. Dmitri surprises Fyodor, Ivan and Alexey by stating that he wishes to drop his claim, settle one particular debt and leave Ryevsk. Fyodor attempts to provoke Dmitri, compelling Father Zossima to declare that he is helpless in settling the matter. After several weeks, Dmitri’s obsession with Grushenka turns into possessive jealousy and she chafes under his suspicions. Dmitri then asks Alexey to speak to Katya about breaking their engagement. When Dmitri laments that he is unable to pay back the money that he took from Katya, Alexey offers to ask Fyodor to loan Dimitri the money. A few days later during a discussion at Fyodor’s home, Smerdyakov and Ivan agree that if there is no God, all behavior is permissible. Dmitri then bursts in looking for Grushenka and when Fyodor taunts him, Dmitri attacks his father. Threatening to kill Fyodor if he tries to see Grushenka, Dmitri departs. The next evening, Alexey goes to see Katya and is surprised to find her with Grushenka. Katya assures Alexey that Dmitri will never marry Grushenka, who has told Katya of Dmitri’s jealousy and her desire to return to her first lover, a Polish officer. Angered by Katya’s confidence, Grushenka ridicules Katya’s manipulative insincerity and class prejudice, and insists that she has not given her word to leave Dmitri. As Grushenka departs, Ivan arrives to inform Katya that he is leaving for Moscow. When Katya pleads for him to stay, Ivan derides her for using him while caring only for Dmitri. Meanwhile, Dmitri pawns his pistols for two hundred rubles, which he asks Alexey to give to Snegiryov as an apology for his insulting behavior. Dmitri confesses to his younger brother that he has realized that only by taking responsibility for all his actions will he be able to move forward with life. While Dmitri departs to collect debts owed him by army colleagues, Alexey takes the money to Snegiryov, who is overwhelmed. Illusha, made ill by the shame of his father’s insult, pleads with him not to accept the apology, forcing Snegiryov to refuse the money. Later, Smerdyakov tells Ivan that he believes that Dmitri will murder Fyodor out of jealousy. When Ivan expresses doubt, Smerdyakov divulges that he is planning to arrange a confrontation between Fyodor and Dmitri. After Ivan departs for Moscow, Smerdyakov puts his plot into action, arranging for a rendezvous between Grushenka and the Polish officer. When Dmitri returns and finds Grushenka gone, he hastens to Fyodor’s. Although convinced of Grushenka’s infidelity, Dmitri is unable to attack his father, even when Fyodor beats him. Drawn by the commotion, caretaker Grigory attempts to prevent Dmitri’s escape and is struck down. Learning of Grushenka’s whereabouts from her maid Marya, Dmitri confronts her and the Polish officer, only to find that the officer has been gambling all evening. After the officer proposes to Grushenka, she realizes that he only wants her for her money. Grushenka rejects the officer, then apologizes to Dmitri and pledges herself to him. As Dmitri is about to confess the assault on Grigory, the police arrive and Dmitri is stunned to learn that while Grigory will recover, Fyodor has been murdered. At his trial, Dmitri pleads guilty to a life of debauchery and debt, but insists he did not murder Fyodor. The prosecutor reveals that three thousand rubles were stolen from Fyodor the night of his murder and Katya testifies that Dmitri had taken the same amount from her, but insists that she did not expect reimbursement. Later in private, Ivan, who has returned for the funeral, laments to Katya that Dmitri will be found guilty, then reveals that he has a plan to smuggle Dmitri out of the country. Later, Ivan confronts Smerdyakov at home and is angered to find him wearing Fyodor’s clothes and drinking his liquor. Smerdyakov confesses to killing Fyodor, but insists that Ivan was complicit when he confirmed Smerdyakov’s belief in a godless world. When Smerdyakov shows Ivan the money that he stole from Fyodor to implicate Dmitri and reveals that he murdered Fyodor to gain respect, Ivan demands that Smerdyakov go to the police. Dismayed, Smerdyakov accuses Ivan of hypocrisy, but Ivan departs for the police. Later that evening, Alexey and Grushenka arrive at Fyodor’s seeking Ivan and find Smerdyakov has hanged himself. The following day in court, Ivan desperately repeats Smerdyakov’s confession and implicates himself as well. After Ivan, Dmitri and Alexey reconcile, Katya submits a letter into evidence in which Dmitri claims that he will get the money owed her from Fyodor even if forced to kill him. Before being found guilty, Dmitri declares that only through punishment will he find salvation and regeneration. The next day, Katya watches the train taking newly sentenced prisoners to prison camp and is stunned to realize that Dmitri is not among them. Ivan and Alexey have arranged to transport Dmitri and Grushenka out of Russia. Before departing, Dmitri insists on stopping at Snegiryov’s, where, in front of Illusha, Dmitri offers his sincere apology and pleads for forgiveness. Illusha accepts his apology and Snegiryov forgives Dmitri, freeing him to start a new life. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.