Brighton Rock (1947)
Rock on Pinkie
You wanted a recording of my voice, well here it is. What you want me to say is, 'I love you'. Well I don't. I hate you, you little slut - Pinkie
I've never read Graham Greene's "Brighton Rock" but by all accounts John Boulting's "Brighton Rock" does the novel justice, bringing to life this tale of gangs and murder in the sea side town of Brighton. In fact I get a sense that to fully appreciate this movie adaptation you need to have read the novel to elaborate on the depth of certain aspects. But even without having read Greene's popular novel it's hard not to appreciate what a brilliant movie "Brighton Rock" is; with so much depth to what is a simple storyline and an electrifying performance from a young Richard Attenborough as Pinkie Brown.
When their leader dies young Pinkie Brown (Richard Attenborough - The Lost World) takes command of their Brighton gang and when the opportunity arises to get revenge he callously murders the man, Fred (Alan Wheatley), responsible for their loss. But a few lose ends leads Ida Arnold (Hermione Baddeley) to suspect foul play was behind Fred's death and despite the police saying it was death by natural causes starts nosing about looking for the truth. But that's not Pinkie's only problems as there is division within his own gang as well as another gang muscling in on their territory.
Now one of the most amazing things about "Brighton Rock" is that it is a simple storyline and being simple actually works in its favour. What we have here is a tale of murder, of a young man who has taken over as gang leader killing the man responsible for the death of their former leader. And we watch as following this murder young Pinkie finds the noose tightening as those within his gang cause problems, a rival gang muscles in on their territory and he tries to make sure that there are no lose ends which connect him to the murder. I say this simple storyline works in its favour because you can watch "Brighton Rock" as just a British gangster movie and be entertained without paying any attention to the depth.
But it is in its depth is where "Brighton Rock" becomes something special as it shows us the seedy world of gangs and murder in popular Brighton. It paints this fascinating picture of rival gangs muscling in on each other's territory and how what you think is a wonderful seaside resort is something different.
But that is just one level of depth and where "Brighton Rock" really becomes interesting is in the study of Pinkie Brown with so much pressure on his own shoulders. And it is interesting because we learn how evil this young thug is from having a sadistic look of glee on his face as he murders the man behind his former leader's death to equal amounts of glee as he deals with those in his own gang. It's not just that he enjoys murder; Pinkie is so twisted that he will marry to silence someone and push them to contemplate committing suicide. To put it simply Pinkie Brown is one of the most evil, sadistic villains ever seen in a gangster movie.
Yet there is more to "Brighton Rock" that just Pinkie Brown there is religious conflict and friendship conflicts as well which keep on adding to the depth. And if that wasn't enough the styling is phenomenal with director John Boulting delivering film noir on par with Hollywood in a British movie. In fact the clever camera work adds to the whole sinister experience as we can appreciate the evil, twisted nature of Pinkie Brown.
And the focus of much of that stunning camera work is Richard Attenborough who delivers one of his best performances as Pinkie Brown. He just makes Pinkie this absolutely evil, sadistic creation, ice cold and in control, gaining pleasure from watching people suffer be at his own hands or others. But it is not just Attenborough's performance which stands out there is also Hermione Baddeley as Ida who not only adds a touch of comedy but also the touching conversation with Rose, the waitress that Pinkie callously marries to keep quiet.
What this all boils down to is that "Brighton Rock" is still a stunning movie, which not only entertains with a simple storyline and an electrifying performance from Richard Attenborough. But it is also a movie which if you want more than just gangster entertainment serves up plenty of depth.
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