Brighton Rock – 1947 | 92 mins | Thriller | B&W
This British film noir stars Richard Attenborough as Pinkie Brown, at the age of just seventeen, Pinkie Brown is a gangster who is cunning, sadistic, introspective and callous. He decides to “remove” a journalist named Kolley Kibber who is visiting Brighton, for Kibber caused the death of a gang leader, Kite – the only person for whom Pinkie has ever felt affection. Kibber realises he is being followed. In a saloon bar. he seeks the protection of Ida Arnold. She declines to make friends. He drifts away, his steps still dogged by the gangsters. Later, in a fun fair, he meets Ida again, but when she leaves him for a moment he jumps on to “The Ghost Train” to elude his pursuers. Not until the train dashes into a tunnel does he recognise his fellow passenger as Pinkie. His body is washed up on the beach some hours later. Pinkie is satisfied that all has gone well except that Spicer (Wylie Watson), a member of the gang, may have left a clue behind in a restaurant.
Pinkie, hurrying off to neutralise the danger, finds that he must make himself agreeable to the waitress, Rose (Carol Marsh) to provide him with an alibi. Rose, naive and young, falls in love with him. Although indifferent to her, he is prepared to marry her in order to invalidate the evidence she could bring against the gang. Meanwhile, Ida Arnold is investigating what she feels sure was murder. Spicer becomes frightened, and Pinkie decides to “dispense” with him. The killing is to be done by a rival gang among the Brighton race-course crowds. In the scuffle, however, Spicer escapes – unknown to Pinkie. Ida questions Rose. This incident speeds Pinkie’s marriage to the little waitress They are both minors, but the arrangements are “fixed” by a shady lawyer named Prewitt. When Pinkie comes upon Spicer and hurls him over the banisters, he calls the lawyer to witness that death was accidental.
On the pier, Rose persuades Pinkie to make a record of his voice as a wedding present to her. He sees a way to relieve his pent-up feelings. He shuts her out from the kiosk, starts the recording machine, and tells how in reality she disgusts him. Next, he plans to kill her. Ida realises his intention and enlists the help of the boy’s friend, Dallow. Just in time, the police arrive. Pinkie backs away from his girl wife, falls over the rails of a jetty and is drowned.
A dark, moody, well-acted film with a superlative performance by Richard Attenborough. Brighton Rock is notable for bringing a new vicious realism to British crime cinema. Adapted by Terrance Rattigan and Graham Greene, from Greene’s novel, the grim realism and sordid subject matter of the film is striking, handled by twin filmmakers Roy and John Boulting, who use mood and dark, stark photography to convey an almost palpable sense of dread.
John Boulting: Director
John Howell: Art Direction
Peter de Sarigny: Associate Producer
Gerald Mitchell: Asst Director
Harry Waxman: Cinematography
Honoria Plesch: Costume Designer
Peter Graham Scott: Editing
Bob Clarke: Makeup
Hans May: Music
Roy Boulting: Producer
Gerard Bryant: Production Manager
Terence Rattigan: Script
Graham Greene: Script
Audrey Bennett: Sound