Director(s): Paul Wendkos
IMDB Rating: 7.1
A successful professor has his life disrupted by a secret from his past - in his college days he became a member of a powerful secret society, and now the society has a job for him.
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We have taken some photos of "The Brotherhood of the Bell". They represent actual movie quality.
theowinthrop (20 May 2013)
Because my memories of this film are really fuzzy, and it is unlikelythat the movie will be shown again anytime soon, I will note that Ithought it a very good thriller, but am not sure if it was excellentenough to merit a 10. As the story was not resolved at the conclusion,I suspect THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BELL was meant to be a possibletelevision series (possibly to star Glenn Ford) and the movie was apossible pilot. The basic plot line is given. Glenn Ford is a professor whose father(Will Geer) is a prominent social figure. Ford is aware that his fatherbelongs to a group that is rather secret called "The Brotherhood of theBell", and it's activities incur Ford's curiosity. The Brotherhood is asecret group that rules the U.S., and that not only controls thegovernment but also the financial and industrial power of the state aswell. He decides he must expose it. As a result he is targeted by thegroup, loses his job, his public reputation, his home, his wife. Hisfather also dies of a heart attack brought on by his activities. Still,despite everything, Ford perseveres in trying to expose the group tothe skeptical nation. Without taking any sides in this type of question, I have to admit thatparanoia aimed at groups is very common. Mention the "Tri-LateralCommission", or the Freemasons, or (despite nearly ninety years ofdisproof by experts) "the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion", andyou may soon find people who are certain these groups (or similar ones)rule the Earth. A cultural social club in San Francisco, that wasfounded by the likes of Ambrose Bierce and Bret Harte and Mark Twain,still exists, but in it's present existence is considered a place whereU.S. Presidents and Cabinet Members, Congressmen, Governors, Heads ofthe Joint Chiefs of Staff, meet to decide what way they will rule theworld. I think paranoia is a awesome weapon - it is meant to give us an answerwhen nothing goes right for us - and an answer that allows our personalfailings to be dropped from our mind as we find that "they" were reallyresponsible, not "me". I recall the scene with William Conrad as the obnoxious talk-show host,who is willing to let Ford come on the show and give his fears publicattention. In 1970 it is likely that the script writers were thinkingof Joe Pyne or Alan Burke as the models of Conrad's character. Pyne andBurke had talk shows where they gave the "lunatic" fringe anopportunity to sound off (Burke with more polish than Pyne had). Butwhat is missed by most of the commentators on the Board regardingConrad's character is that he does sound like a figure of reason. Whenhe hears Ford's story (which the audience knows is true, but which thepublic in the movie does not know is true), Conrad actually analyzes it- unfairly (according to Ford). He says that "the Bell" may represent(in Ford's dementia) the Church Bell at St. Peter's of Rome. TheCatholic Church has been suspected of being a center of aninternational conspiracy for centuries (think of Eugene Sue's novel,THE WANDERING JEW, which is actually about a plot by an ambitiousmember of the Jesuits to take over a huge fortune (in the "name" ofthat order) and rule the world). Conrad suggests this anti-Catholictype of conspiracy is the germ of Ford's ravings. Ford starts sayingConrad is "one of them" (meaning the Brotherhood), and Conrad dismisseshim as a crank. But Ford's comments have stimulated the audience whoside with Ford, rather than Conrad (who turns on them as idiots). Whilethe viewers know Ford is right here, there is an uncomfortable sensethat we are actually agreeing with a point of view that a bunch ofYahoos are ready to swallow for no reason at all!I hope they show this again - just to see how it holds up after thirtysix years. When it came out, the critics in the newspapers and the T.V.Guide dismissed it as pretentious trash. A bit unfair I think...or werethey pressured to say that? What do you think?
swiss2nz (19 May 2013)
I saw this topnotch made-for-TV movie when it debuted in 1970, andagain several years later, and cannot understand why it is notavailable on video and DVD, and why, as another writer has pointed out,it does not even appear in Glenn Ford's filmography. The acting isexcellent throughout, and the suspense doesn't let up. Though I haven'tsee it in years, I think of it often; every time I see omnipotentinformational gatekeepers (NYT, WaPo, ABC, NBC, CBS) shamelesslyworking hand-in-hand with one of our major political parties to promotea common agenda. Everyone should see this movie. And everyone should bescared.
gerdeen-1 (12 May 2013)
It's fascinating that this film -- about a man disillusioned with hismembership in a powerful secret society -- has never inspired a cultfollowing of fans. But it has made a lot of viewers paranoid, for goodor ill. The plot is by turns frightening, funny and thoughtful, and theacting is superb. In my opinion, this is not so much a thriller as abrilliant satire. Its point is not that conspiracies are everywhere,but that many of us go through life never understanding the world welive in, or even the things that make us what we are. Glenn Ford,nearing the end of his career as a leading man, reminds us of why hewas such a star, and William Conrad as a Joe Pyne-type talk show hostis perfect in a small but essential role.
aarthur (12 May 2013)
I saw this only once -- when it came out when I was ten years old. And I'venever forgotten it. To this day I think this is probably the bestmade-for-TV movie ever.Being so young when I saw it I'm sure I missed some subtleties, butnevertheless I knew something really wrong and conspiratorial was going on-- it was my first major fictional encounter with overwhelming paranoia andgross injustice, and it has stayed with me my entire life. It may even havebeen a factor in shaping my detestation of unjustified authority and powerelites. I felt such profound, empathetic outrage at what was happening toGlenn Ford...I remember being transfixed the whole time, my bloodpercolating with anger and worry.The acting (Glenn Ford was remarkable -- thoroughly convincing), the mood,the story, the crushing anxiety all still resonate within me more thanthirty years later.This is a movie that should see the light of day again -- it really oughttobe available on DVD. [10/10]
David R. Schryer (25 April 2013)
The Brotherhood of the Bell is an elite fraternity whose memberseffectivelycontrol much of the government and non-government power in the U.S. GlennFord's character is a disillusioned member of the Brotherhood who attemptsto expose it following the suicide of a friend whom it has victimized.Ford's attempts to expose the Brotherhood bring its power to bear on him,resulting in the destruction of his reputation, his job, and even hismarriage. So convincing was this movie that I was left with the impressionthat much of the real power in this country could indeed be held by aneliteoligarchy of rich and powerful people without the awareness of the generalpopulace. See this one if you can.
kellyclan5 (25 April 2013)
Glen Ford is a successful professor -- an elite member of society. Littledoes he know that his membership in a fraternity known as the "Brotherhoodof the Bell" guaranteed him much of his success. It has been over 30 yearssince I saw this movie on TV and I still remember William Conrad (Bart)andhis ding-a-ling bell. What a pathetic excuse for a human being. GlenFord'stroubled character is also memorable, but this movie is not even listed inhis credits. What a "sleeper". I hope I can find a copy.
Roger Hamilton (23 April 2013)
I recall seeing this movie more years ago than I care to remember; itwas broadcast on British TV. At the time I was totally won over by theacting of Glen Ford and Dean Jagger. Glen Ford's depiction of growingfear and moral conflict carried the film perfectly, with Dean Jagger'ssinister accent and forceful character beautifully portrayed. I havenot seen this film since, and perhaps another viewing might lessen it'simpact. One thing I am sure of, and that is that many a modern movie"maker" would be better abandoning his/her prop-reliant histrionic"verismo" in favour of what made this film, and many another from thisera, impressive; namely, clarity of diction, non intrusive camera workand a storyline totally free from red herrings, false climaxes andbizarre stunts. To those movie lovers who have not seen this one, may Ihumbly recommend it.
irstaxea (22 April 2013)
I saw this movie when it was first released some 35 years ago. I reallywant to see it again but can't seem to find it anywhere. Is itavailable on VHS or DVD? I wrote to TCM and AMC as to when it might beon but did not receive an answer. As I recall, it reminded me of theorganization that existed at the time called WASP. It had much power ingetting things done. Another organization that I read about recently isone that President Bush and Clinton were part of. I don't recall thename but it is another secret society. It's always interesting to notethat many movies are based on fact and I believe the brotherhood is. Ifanyone knows where I can purchase this movie, I would appreciateletting me know. Thanks.
dreamt_learnt (18 April 2013)
The Brotherhood Of The Bell is one of the best made for televisionmovies ever to grace a television screen.Glenn Ford was awesome in hisrendition of the troubled man who was looking for a solution to a mostdifficult problem. The entire cast was excellent.Rosemary Forsythe wasvery compelling as the wife in this story. I loved Will Geer in hispart. It was so different from the role as Grandpa Walton!And let's notforget William Conrad as the television talk show host. It was amasterful performance to say the least!!I watched this movie just theother day, and I enjoyed it so much.This movie has stood up to the testof time. I recommend this to everyone.I have this movie on VHS tape.
Joe Shepard (17 April 2013)
Absolutely, the finest of all "secret society"plots, with the great Glenn Ford as protagonistpar excellance, and a wicked Dean Jagger -- Oh Boy,Oh Boy, Oh Boy! Why is this not in video?Probably not for some sinister reason -- but acrime nonetheless!!!
john whipple (09 April 2013)
I arrived at this Website because I am reading "NONE DARE CALL ITCONSPIRACY" by GARY ALLEN and LARRY ABRAHAM. The "FACTS" in that bookled me to recall seeing "BROTHERHOOD OF THE BELL" many years ago. (Mymemory was flawed because I searched for "Society of the Bell".) I amseverely disappointed to learn that the film is not available on DVD.Perhaps we can circulate an on-line petition asking that those who ownthe film might consider a remake or a release of the film on DVD. Afterreading "NONE DARE CALL IT CONSPIRACY" one could conclude that the DVDof "Brotherhood..." was never made because the "SECRET WORLDGOVERNMENT" does not want anyone who sees the movie to conclude thatthe story might be true.
(09 April 2013)
Brotherhood of the Bell, unlike it's progeny The Skulls (1-3 atpresent), deals with issues of conscience confronting moral adults. Mr.Ford's membership in a secret society (patterned after Yale's Skull andBones society) forces him into very difficult life choices. I can onlyimagine these are similar to those facing actual members of this secretelite organization. This film courageously and sensitively throws alight on what it means to follow truth. Both President Bush the Firstand Second and Mr. John Kerry, are actual members of the Yale secretfraternity. During this last election both were asked (separately atdifferent times and locations) to explain about this group. Bothreplied from the same script (paraphrasing) "I can't, it's secret!".Video tape available showing this from infowars.com. Isn't this aconflict of interest? An original draft of the 13th Amendment to our USConstitution would have prohibited office seekers from membership insecret organizations. But the strength of Yale College (as it was thencalled) and the elite "Bonesmen" could never have allowed such a law.Could this also explain why this film, which boldly exposes conspiracyand corrupt loyalties, is never shown on movie channels and rarely ifever found in a video rental store? Buy the video wherever you can findit (the internet has sites where you can find it), watch it and show itto friends. Spread the message. Remember, all that is needed for evilto win is for good men (and women) to do nothing.
DangerDiabolik (08 April 2013)
That recent wretched made-4-teens takeoff on the Skull and BonesSociety was a vapid and vacuous foray into...well, not too much.In marked contrast is "The Brotherhood of the Bell". If you believethat there are cabals of highly placed persons working together toachieve their ends through any means, particularly through coercionupon their own members, then this film will give you much pause forthought. I myself have not seen this film since it's original broadcaston television, but I recall it quite distinctly. I would give this filmhigh marks for direction, acting, storyline and (amazing for a filmover 35 years old)...topicality. Definitely among the top 5 made-fort.v. movies of all time.
Adananay (07 April 2013)
One of the best made-for-TV movies ever, Dean Jagger in a role that fithim to a "T". I agree that this movie has been suppressed, obviouslybecause it struck a nerve with the powers that be. Should be seen byevery American before it's too late. I saw this movie when I was 18 or19 and it has been on my mind ever since, largely because I had apolitical science professor (Dr. Steven Rosen) who introduced me to theconspiratorial view of history at about the same time. Many Americansremember President Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrialcomplex, but not one in a million recalls Jack Kennedy's warning aboutthe influence of secret societies in the U.S. "Brother- hood of theBell" put that warning in everyone's living room 37 years ago.
lordhack_99 (21 March 2013)
I saw this when I was sixteen, and was struck by howintelligentit was. Ford is superb: smart, baffled, hurt, edgy, terrified.Geeris wonderful. Much like life in a police state, you never knowifyour friends can be trusted; everytime I saw Smithers on screen,Iwas waiting for them to ruin it by making him the baddie, butno!I remember how disheartened I was to read a Harlan Ellisonessayin which he shrugged it off, and the "so-so" novel on which itwasbased. Well, I still think that this was one of the besttelevisionfilms ever made. Tnank you, Paul Wendkos!!
Michael J. O'Brien (21 March 2013)
I thought I was the only person who ever saw this film. I've been askingpeople for years about it and no one I asked had ever heard of it. Therecent film 'The Skulls' made me renew my search for some evidence of itsexistence. At last! It has been a long time since I've seen it but Iremember it really blew me away when I did. It was so believable it wasspookey. I wish it could be revived on tape or something. What happens togreat old TV movies?? If you ever see it listed on late nite TV / STAY UPand WATCH IT!!!!!!!!!
parkerr86302 (13 March 2013)
I agree with everyone who has posted here that the film is quiteexcellent, and it is a shame that it is so little seen today. I doremember when it was still in reruns occasionally, then it dropped fromview. This led to militia groups and other conspiracy theoristsclaiming that the real Powers That Be (Whether it's Skull and Bones orwhoever) had suppressed it. Militia groups have been selling bootlegsfor years.But let's not get overly paranoid. That fact is, quite a few TV moviesfrom that same era have disappeared from view. That BROTHERHOOD OF THEBELL is among them does not necessarily denote a conspiracy. Now, ifthis entire IMDb page on the film suddenly disappears, then I mightbecome a believer! But back to the original point, if you can find acopy of the film, I strongly recommend it as well. Don't waste yourtime with the more recent SKULLS series.
Ernest Holly, Jr. (13 March 2013)
I saw this movie about fifteen years ago. It is one of 1970'S betterproductions. The plot is most intriguing. It was written as fiction;however, because it next to impossible to obtain, I have my suspicionsthatit may be just a tad more than fictional. If anyone knows how i may orcanobtain a copy of this fine film, I ask that you contact me at my E-MAILADDRESS.Thank you
Roger Jolly (13 March 2013)
I saw this in 1970 when it was on TV and it was the beginning of a longfascination with movies of this ilk. The Brotherhood of the Bell pavedthe way for follow-up films like "The Star Chamber" and "Skulls". I'vealways wondered if there wasn't some hidden group that has this kind ofcontrol, but I know that I've never been recruited (darn it).Personally, I think Glenn Ford should have just carried out his taskand put it behind him - but then I guess if he had done that therewouldn't have been a movie. The fact that this theme has appeared inseveral films convinces me that there must be a "brotherhood" that runsgovernment and finance. But then I've always felt that there aresecrets lurking away from the public at Area 51 too.
SadTomato (12 March 2013)
"The Brotherhood of the Bell" is one of the most audacious, subversive,and thought provoking movies ever made for American television.Glenn Ford, as Prof. Andrew Patterson, goes through hell for spillingthe beans about the all seeing, all powerful Brotherhood of the Bell.But director Paul Wendkos and writer David Karp slyly ask us toconsider whether it is the Brotherhood that is responsible forPatterson's misery or--more boldly--Patterson himself.Wendkos does a superb job, through masterful camera-work, of keepingthe audience off guard. We are never quite sure whether the events weare witnessing are the results of the Brotherhood, coincidentaloccurrences, or merely paranoid delusions Patterson is having. The onlything we know for sure is the horrible psychic toll these events arehaving for Patterson. The film is about loss. And along with losing hishis best friend, his job, his father, and his wife, it is clear he isalso losing his mind. But, ironically, the more he loses the more Patterson seems to gain.And what he gains is a clearer grasp of "The American Dream." Like aBuddhist parable on hallucinogenics, the movie asks what real value area beautiful wife, luxurious home, well paying job, etc. if they can beso easily taken away? Even television, the very device people werewatching "Brotherhood" on in 1970, is savaged in the depiction of "TheBart Harris Show." The show, symbolic of an America out of control, isa festering cesspool of hate, paranoia and frustration with WilliamConrad's Harris as a man-in-charge who has nothing but contempt for hisaudience. For an American TV movie in the '70s to suggest that therewas more to life than a beautiful wife, beautiful home, a well-payingjob and that television was essentially a freak show aimed at thelowest common denominator was heretical indeed.In many ways, it is the precursor to a film that would come 37 yearslater, David Fincher's "The Game." What "Bell" and "The Game" have incommon is that both films use the otherwise hackneyed "conspiracy" filmplot as a kind of Trojan Horse to say some rather nasty and pointedthings about "The American Dream." "Brotherhood of the Bell" is an allegory and to only focus on its overtstoryline of secret society shenanigans is to miss the bigger picture.
Review total: 20, showing from 1 to 20