Brighton Rock (1947)

“You asked me to make a record of me voice. Well, here it is. What you want me to say is ‘I love you.’ Here’s the truth. I hate you, you little slut. You make me sick.”

‘Brighton Rock’, directed by John Boulting in 1947, is a British adaptation of Graham Greene’s crime thriller. Richard Attenborough plays Pinkie Brown, a gangster in Brighton who murders a journalist who he blames for the death of the former gang leader. The police believe the death is a natural causes, but a local woman, Ida, is unconvinced and begins an independent investigation. In the meantime, Pinkie seduces a key witness, the innocent Rose, and uses her as an alibi, but as Ida moves towards the truth, Pinkie decides he needs to kill Rose. It’s a dark, oppressive film with a number of stylish and very unusual camera shots. At the centre of the film is Attenborough’s mesmerising and convincing performance as the psychopath Pinkie somehow managing to combine a kind of youthful naivety with an incredibly creepy impassiveness. The other performances from the innocent victim Rose, played by Carol Marsh, to the reluctant but professional henchman Dallow, played by William Hartnell, complement and enhance Attenborough’s character and provide heart to the film, counterbalancing Pinkie’s absence in that area. The real star is Brighton however. From the opening description of the town to the use of location throughout the movie, the pier, beach and fun palaces, each somehow subverted by the twisted cinematography. This film is like a ghost train ride.

Would I recommend it? Yes – it’s gothic and chilling with a brilliant and unnerving central performance. Watch with ‘Quadrophenia’, another film that uses, and abuses, Brighton.

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