Edward G. Robinson plays orchid-loving gangster Little John Sarto, who aspires to "real class." During a power struggle with usurping mobster Jack Buck (Humphrey Bogart), Sarto is taken for a one-way ride, but he escapes his would-be assassins and hides out in a monastery overseen by Brother Superior (Donald Crisp). Sarto insists that he'd like to become a monk himself, but in fact he's using the monastery as a hideout, the better to mount his counterattack against Buck. Eventually Sarto's resolve is weakened by the kindness of the monks, and he decides to turn over a new leaf. He sees to it that Buck is brought to justice, and also fixes up his true-blue "moll," Flo Addams (Ann Sothern), with good-hearted Texas rancher Clarence Fletcher (Ralph Bellamy). (News flash! Bellamy gets the girl for once!) Sarto, now known as "Brother Orchid," returns to the monastery for good, declaring that he's finally found the real class. Though Edward G. Robinson didn't want to play another gangster, he agreed to star in Brother Orchid in exchange for being allowed to essay the lead in Warner Bros.' historical drama A Dispatch From Reuter's (1940).
by Hal Erickson synopsis