The Brotherhood of the Bell

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The Brotherhood of the Bell
Directed by Paul Wendkos
Produced by David Karp
Written by David Karp
Starring Glenn Ford
Dean Jagger
Rosemary Forsyth
Maurice Evans
Will Geer
Robert Pine
Dabney Coleman
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Robert B. Hauser
Edited by Carroll Sax
Distributed by CBS Television
Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • September 17, 1970 (1970-09-17) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Brotherhood of the Bell is a 1970 made-for-television movie produced by Cinema Center 100 Productions and starring Glenn Ford. The director Paul Wendkos was nominated in 1971 by the Directors Guild of America for "outstanding directorial achievement in television". David Karp wrote the screenplay based on his novel that had been previously filmed as a Studio One episode in 1958.[1]

The film depicts a successful economics professor, Dr. Andrew Patterson, who discovers that an elite fraternity he joined as an undergraduate is really a callous banking and business cabal that obtains wealth and power for its members through nefarious practices.


A professor, Dr. Andrew (Andy) Patterson (Glenn Ford), is called back to his alma mater, the College of St. George in San Francisco, for the initiation of a new member into a secret society known as the "Brotherhood of the Bell." The man who initiated him 22 years earlier, financier Chad Harmon (Dean Jagger), presiding at the initiation, gives him an address to go to in order to receive an assignment that the society wants him to fulfill: to see to it that his colleague, Dr. Konstantin Horvathy (Eduard Franz) declines to accept a deanship at a college of linguistics. The "Bell" wants this post for one of their own. Accompanying the assignment are documents that are to assist Patterson: dossiers of people who helped Dr. Horvathy defect to the United States years earlier. He is to warn Horvathy that if he accepts the appointment, these dossiers will be sent to the hostile government, bringing about the eventual torture and death of these people. Disregarding the policies of the brotherhood, Patterson hurriedly consults his "senior" Chad Harmon about the illegality and nefariousness of his assignment. Harmon tells Patterson to do it and be grateful that more is not asked of him.

Dr. Patterson gets home to Los Angeles in the evening and immediately contacts Dr. Horvathy. Unable to persuade him to decline the position that he was offered, he presents him with the photostats of the dossiers. Horvathy, who is a lifelong refugee from Fascism and Communism, flees to his home, and commits suicide, concluding in his suicide note that he has no other place to go. In remorse for his blackmail Patterson comes forward to his wife, Vivian (Rosemary Forsyth), his father-in-law Harry Masters (Maurice Evans), and to the public about the brotherhood and his actions with respect to Dr. Horvathy.

The incriminating documents remain in Dr. Patterson's possession when he seeks advice from his father-in-law, who takes him to a Thaddeus Burns, who Masters says is an agent of the Federal Security Services (the film's fictional version of the FBI). Masters is in collusion with "the Bell" in the recovery of these documents from Patterson. Later Masters denies ever taking Patterson to see Burns. This alienates Patterson from his wife and her family. His wife then leaves him.

Patterson is awakened to the fact that both he and his father, Mike Patterson (Will Geer), received their success in life gratuitously as privileges of his membership in the brotherhood—he had never asked anything of them. After Patterson goes public with his exposé, his father, now the CEO of the multimillion dollar Patterson Engineering Enterprises, is singled out by the IRS for fraud. When the older Patterson lashes out against Harry Masters in response, he suffers a stroke and dies soon after. Patterson himself is relieved of his professorship at the behest of the Brotherhood of the Bell.

Patterson finds himself increasingly isolated, and reaches rock bottom when he appears on a local television talk show whose host Bart Harris (William Conrad) conducts an on-air forum that humiliates him to the point that he lashes out at Harris. Patterson is arrested, but is bailed out of jail by his former boss, Dr. Jerry Fielder (William Smithers), who becomes the first person to believe Patterson's story. He urges Patterson to find another brother of the Bell to stand with him against it. This ends up being Philip Dunning (Robert Pine), whose initiation into the Brotherhood of the Bell began the story.



An earlier dramatic adaption of the novel was made for the Studio One anthology series, and aired January 6, 1958.

Scenes at the fictional College of St. George were filmed at Pomona College.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Brotherhood of the Bell at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ Balchunas, Michael. Pomona College Magazine, "The Duke on the Quad and other Hollywood tales on the Pomona College campus," Spring 2005.

External links[edit]