Having Graham Greene's riveting and authentic novel about the leader of a Brighton based gang of hoods and ne'er do wells as source material was an obvious advantage, but the Boulting Brothers (John directed, brother Roy produced) still managed to conjure arguably the finest British thriller ever in what is a genuine and evocative film noir. Expressively shot by veteran cinematographer Harry Waxman (The Wicker Man), for many the film's most abiding quality is the outstanding, intense performance of a young Richard Attenborough as the emotionally and physically scarred gang leader Pinky Brown, who courts and marries a local waitress (Carol Marsh) he detests in order to stop her testifying against him. Beautifully scripted by Greene and Terence Rattigan (The Browning Version), whose eye for detail and atmosphere is astounding, Brighton Rock is utterly hard bitten in tone and abundant in cruel ironies, right up to its well-judged, refreshingly cynical ending.
Far superior to the 2010 remake
- Brighton Rock review by RP
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You rated this film: 4
I watched the 2010 remake of 'Brighton Rock' recently and ordered a copy of the original 1947 version so that I could re-watch a classic film starring a young Richard Attenborough - and to compare the two.
It probably goes without saying that the original is the better film - it has a far darker atmosphere, Pinky Brown is more naive yet far more menacing, and the understated violence seems far more shocking. It's set in the 1930s and the period detail (cobbles, short trousered boys, lack of telephones, gas lighting, uniformed waitresses in the cafe) is quite evocative - even the use of 'Kolley Kibber' as a technique to drum up business for the newspaper.
[Aside: As a boy, I remember 'Lobby Lud' from the 'News Chronicle' in the late 1950s- but by then the challenge was 'You are Lobby Lud and I claim my five pounds'. That's inflation for you - but I digress...]
The underlying theme of Graham Greene's novel is about faith, guilt, sin, good and evil, right and wrong, hatred, love, damnation, confession and redemption. Much of this is present in the film - mentions of Catholicism, the rosary, the dialogue with the nun at the end - but the significance is reduced compared to the novel. A major difference from the novel is the ending - the film has the climax on Brighton pier rather than the coast at Peacehaven and has the record jumping so that it cynically repeats 'I love you', rather than the novel's original ending where Rose will hear 'the greatest horror of all'.
4/5 stars - recommended. And it's definitely superior to the 2010 remake.
Although I admired the quality of the direction of this film and the beautiful photography, I did not really enjoy the film. It is about gangsters in Brighton, gang wars and brutal, sadistic and cold blooded murderers. The acting is patchy, Attenborough is unbelievably menacing and uncaring. He just does not look as bad as he should. I was expecting a film of a literary masterpiece. This was too ordinary and grim. On the positive side I agree with a previous reviewer about the accuracy of the period. Very nostalgic.