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Brother John (1970)

Sidney Poitier , Will Geer , James Goldstone  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Brother John + The Last Brickmaker in America + The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn
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Product Details

  • Actors: Sidney Poitier, Will Geer, Bradford Dillman, Beverly Todd, Ramon Bieri
  • Directors: James Goldstone
  • Writers: Ernest Kinoy
  • Producers: Sidney Poitier, Joel Glickman
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: January 7, 2003
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007CVRT
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,070 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Brother John" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Brother John is a fascinating example of the social-issue cinema that flourished in the early 1970s. This subtly engrossing drama posits the second coming of Christ as an Alabama-born black man named John Kane (Sidney Poitier)--a prodigal son, savior, and quiet peacemaker who can still kick ass when he needs to. Screenwriter Ernest Kinoy's clever strategy is to embrace near-total ambiguity, injecting just a hint of divinity into Kane's personal belongings. Director James Goldstone (a veteran, along with cinematographer Gerry Finnerman, of TV's original Star Trek) maintains a crucial balance of faith and uncertainty that inspires one of Poitier's most underrated performances; at times he really seems to be carrying the burdens of humankind in his weary, compassionate heart. Is he God, bidding farewell on the verge of doomsday? Only the doctor who birthed him (Will Geer, at his best) surmises the truth. A fine score by Quincy Jones with then-trendy harmonica soloist Toots Thielemans makes this a '70s gem to savor. --Jeff Shannon

From the Back Cover

He left home as a child. He traveled the world and visited places few men have seen. There is no way to contact him. Yet, whenever a death occurs in the family, he knows to return home. He just knows. Academy Award winner Sidney Poitier (1964, best actor in a leading role, Lilies of the Field) is Brother John in this compelling film about the mysteries and prejudices of a small Alabama town on the brink of upheaval.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Something to really think about." April 3, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This movie really makes you stop and think, about how you live your life and how others live theirs. Every person's life has a purpose. Each of us has to find out what that purpose is. Many don't know it, but you can live out your purpose and still enjoy life at the same time, affecting other people in the positive. This movie almost seemed to be from the mind of a pessimist, but some may say a realist. I think it reflects the moral conscious of that day. I have seen a good number of Sidney Poitier movies, and it amazes me how he can always keep that poker face in every tough seen (one calling for little to no expression when giving someone critical information). He ranks right up there with all of the leading men of Hollywood of old, great actors of back in the day.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep...Deep...Deeep October 14, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is filled with a since of righteousness and the importance of human respect. Although it is set in the termoil of the late 60's early 70's the story line is timeless. The film brings into focus, through the life of John (Sydney Poitier), a since of destiny for the human race. Truly an excellent work.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Inspiration November 30, 2002
By Michael
Format:VHS Tape
This is simply the greatest film work ever done and greatly overlooked. It is the inspiration for one of my books and is a timeless masterpiece.
It's unbelievable how much this story is overlooked.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John, the Extra-Terrestial February 23, 2008
Format:VHS Tape
After a two-minute introduction of credits accompanied by a nice winds score, an aging family doctor (played by Will Geer) in a small Southern town sets the plot in motion when he calls the Reverend Mac and his son, the prosecutor, to his home for a meeting concerning Brother John. Earlier that day, the Doc had examined Brother John's sister and found her to be suffering from an advanced stage of cancer, with only a few days to live at most.

But the story begins thirty years before, with the breach birth delivery of Brother John. The lights had gone out when an unexpected windstorm popped up out of nowhere. John grew up like any other boy but at the age of 16, he left town. He came back to his mother's death bed, then his father's death bed, and "sure as I'm standin' here, I know that boy, wonderin' God knows where, will show up at his sister's death bed".

John does show up at this sister's death bed, but this all takes place during a mass demonstration to organize a union at a factory in town, and the Doc's son and the sheriff are worried about outside agitators. And they suspect John. They slip into his motel room and rummage through his things, noting a passport that says he been all over the world including Cuba and Communist China (this was before Nixon opened Pandora's Box). When they later question him, he admits than he can speak Arabic, Russian, Swahili and a score of other languages. When they asked him how? he replied by saying he listened. How did you pay for the airfare? I worked, John said. In short, they suspect him of being a spy.

Only the Doc has figured out that Brother John is indeed a spy, but one from another planet. Brother John is an extra-terrestial.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a hidden gem November 22, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Like Fragment of Fear (which was also released in 1970)I happened upon this movie while channel surfing back in the 1980's. From beginning to end, I was taken in by the mystery shrouding the main character John Kane. Who, or what Brother John is, remains a bit of a mystery. There are, however, some pretty strong (yet subtle) implications regarding the nature of the man in question. There is also quite a bit of sociopolitical and racial commentary, which is not unusual for a Vietnam era film. Furthermore, the film touches on philosophical and moral issues that give it a depth beyond the deceptively simple plot. There is, in fact, a thought provoking question about the nature of humanity, and the moral implications of its actions towards members of its own species, as well as those of others throughout its brief history on the planet.
The script is superb conceptually, and implies (without actually stating) that other-worldly beings are responsible for the creation, or at least the evolution, of Man as a so-called rational animal. Furthermore, there is also the insinuation that a member of that race (in human form) once checked on our progress, and gave an unfavorable report to say the least. Now almost 2000 years later, another observer (or perhaps the same one in a different human form) has been sent to make a record of current (circa 1970) activity all over the globe. The purpose of this is to decide whether the human experiment was a failure or a success, and whether or not it should be shut down. In short, the question simply put is: Does humanity as a species deserve to survive, or are its sins too great? Deep questions indeed, which might make the viewers of this film question their own moral standing.
That aside, however, the acting of Sidney Poitier and company is superb, and I can't help but marvel at the fact that such a hidden gem has practically been forgotten over the decades.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch this movie before you read these reviews.... March 7, 2010
This is a great movie, but one I'd recommend watching before you read these reviews which give our explanation of what we think it means. Poitier gives a very fine performance, as does Gerr and the rest of the cast. The cinematography (note creative use of light and grainy closeups) and soundtrack (hip Quincy Jones) is excellent (if a bit early 70's dated). Brother John may be an enigmatic character, but the plot is not so subtle in it's look at racism, war, worker and big industry relations, modern humanity and a wide range of human relationships.

In many ways this plays as an allegory of Jesus Christ's life, but it is also more. By the end I thought he was more John The Revelator than Christ. But he is also more wise, restrained and dispassionate than those traditional Christian characters. He is more like Christ as the Taoist sage witnessing and absorbing the world without resistance or judgment.

While the plot is clearly allegorical, with an axe to grind about social injustices, the beauty is that it makes you want to think and examine on your own. And simply live in the moment.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystical and foreboding!
Mystical and foreboding!
Published 24 days ago by Dr. DIAS
5.0 out of 5 stars Who is brother John Kane?
Recently I consolidated a huge DVD collection and in doing so encountered several films I had forgotten completely about. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bowman
5.0 out of 5 stars The Movie Brother John
Sidney Poitier is one of the world's greatest actor. I haven't seen this movie since I was a child. Thanks Amazon for bringing back some wonderful memories of what great movies... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Walter L Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusul story played by an unusual cast.
The story goes, apparently, that a veteran Hollywood screenwriter who was into science fiction and history had an idea for kind of a creepy story involving a black man who was... Read more
Published 4 months ago by amateur_botanist
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Love it .... A Baby Boomer. Can't believe I have never seen it. Plan to watch again, again & again.
Published 4 months ago by Leathia L Williams
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost there
Any movie with Sidney Poitier in it is a good movie. This story however has missed the mark. It tries too hard to force you to use your imagination of what's going on. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Thomas H. Kunich
4.0 out of 5 stars If you like Sidney Poiter
You will like this movie, Sidney is great and this is a very emotional movie that everyone will love! Its a must see if you like older movies and Sidney Poitier.
Published 6 months ago by Monique Clavelle Coleman
5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas
My sister asked me to send her this movie.She enjoyed it very much.I sent her a DVD player and I sent about 30 tapes.She has MS and is confined to a wheelchair.
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this movie!
This is one of the Poitier films I don't get to see often, so I bought it! If you have never seen it, you should.
Published 7 months ago by Jane D. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Who is Brother John?
Sidney Poitier is a great actor. This movie shows the excellence of his talent. The issues of the story required strength of character, which he displayed.
Published 9 months ago by Rosella L. Limon
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