Two men were kicked and beaten unconscious at a Howard County movie theater late Wednesday by five to 10 men after one of the two repeatedly asked another patron to be quiet, police said.

None of the other estimated 40 people watching "The Untouchables" came to the men's aid, even after the wife of one of the two men screamed for help, according to police.

Brothers William A. Murphy, 24, of Laurel and Robert W. Murphy, 27, of Columbia were taken by ambulance to Howard County General Hospital, where they were treated for facial and head injuries before being released early yesterday. Police have made no arrests.

The fight started when William Murphy asked a man seated near him at the Columbia Cinema to lower his voice, said Howard County police spokesman Angus Park.

After Murphy had made his request a third time, the man reportedly stood and challenged him to a fight, Park said. When Murphy responded by pushing the man, the man attacked him, and a group of young men in the next row joined in.

Park said police didn't know if the disruptive patron was acquainted with the other assailants.

The group carried the Murphys to the front of the theater, where the assailants continued to kick and punch them until they were unconscious, Park said.

Reached at home yesterday, William Murphy said he had been advised by his attorney not to discuss the incident. "Naturally, we're very sore," he said.

Randy Dunbar, an assistant manager who was on duty at the theater Wednesday night, also refused to discuss the attack. Asked if he had seen or heard anything unusual, Dunbar said, "It's a movie theater -- it's dark . . . . When you're in the lobby, can you hear a movie playing inside?"

The Murphys' attorney, Paul Nussbaum, wouldn't comment on the case, saying, "I won't even consider what legal action to take until my clients are fully recovered. Hopefully, their injuries won't be permanent or leave any scars."

Park said he didn't know why the audience did not help the Murphys. Police attempted to interview witnesses, but only two patrons said they saw anything happen, he said.

"It's just one of those horrible things you hope don't happen to you or anyone you know," Park said.