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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Must-have movies: Brighton Rock (1947)(Filed: 17/03/2006)





    David Gritten reviews a classic that every film-lover will want to own







    Almost 60 years after its release, Brighton Rock enjoys an unassailable status as one of the greatest British films ever made. It's a classic thriller, a terrific gangster movie and one of the most distinctive versions of film noir ever to originate from these shores.



    It also boasts one of the most unforgettable bad guys ever seen on a cinema screen: the irredeemably evil teenage hoodlum Pinkie Brown, played with unblinking conviction by Richard Attenborough, himself only 23 at the time.



    Brighton Rock is one of very few films successfully adapted from Graham Greene's work. Greene co-wrote its script with playwright Terence Rattigan from his own novel, and while it can be argued that the film is a diluted version, it retains an extraordinary power.



    The story is set between the wars, when, as we are told, Brighton was full of "dark alleyways and festering slums", and crime, violence and gang warfare were rampant.



    Attenborough's Pinkie leads a gang of older men, all of them intimidated by him to varying degrees. They run protection rackets, carry razors, and attack any unfortunates in their debt without mercy. Pinkie is also trying to muscle in on a more established gang, working the racetrack at Brighton. But his tight, violent little world is gradually closing in on him.



    After he murders an ex-gangster, he realises that his alibi could be jeopardised by Rose (Carol Marsh), an innocent, naive young waitress in a café. To buy her silence, Pinkie courts and even marries Rose. But his schemes are thwarted by the persistence of Ida (Hermione Baddeley), a blowsy, raucous, middle-aged entertainer in a Pierrot troupe who is convinced of Pinkie's guilt.



    This being Greene, of course, good and evil, along with faith, guilt and salvation, are never far from the agenda. Pinkie and Rose are both Catholics, and Pinkie believes strongly in damnation's torments: "These atheists don't know nothing," he tells her. He may have the face of an angel (albeit a fallen one), but in truth he's a devil in disguise; even his phone number contains a "666".



    Yet all Brighton Rock's main characters are in some sort of hell. The film constantly stresses the contrast between the sunny, cheery Brighton that holidaymakers know and its sinister, criminal underbelly. Ida and her bloated drinking friends look faintly grotesque and distorted; Pinkie inhabits a world of shadows and terror.



    Harry Waxman's masterly black-and-white camerawork frames Pinkie in dark, claustrophobic shots; it's as if he's cornered by his own sense of sin. For the film's second half he carries a mark of Cain, after being slashed in the face by a razor wielded by a member of a rival gang. (In America, the film was re-titled Young Scarface.)



    On its release, Brighton Rock was seen as genuinely shocking; especially unsettling was the notion that a teenager like Pinkie could be so chillingly evil. The film's ending, which differs from Greene's novel, was the result of an intervention by the (then) British Board of Film Censors. Some critics felt that it watered down Greene's intentions, but the new ending can be seen as a bleak joke about faith and gullibility.



    It's ironic that Attenborough, long regarded as a benign, patriarchal figure in public life, should be best known as an actor for playing two loathsome characters: Pinkie, and the serial killer John Christie in 10 Rillington Place. Yet his Pinkie is an indelible portrayal - and Brighton Rock an authentic British classic.

  2. #2
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    This film shows a marvellously seedy Brighton in the Inter-War Years when Race-Track Gangs regularly fought with Razors. This was Movie making torn from the News as the Racing Gangs were considered a major problem by the Police.



    The Period details may leave modern audiences adrift at times . In particular the British Newspaper practice of sending a man around a seaside resort and rewarding anyone who picked up cards he left around ( One of the real ones was called Lobby Ludd - in the film it is Kolly Kibber ). This sets up a chain of events which lead to Pinkie's eventual ownfall.



    There are many haunting moments. The chase to the Train station empasises the claustrophobia of a man whose fate is unavoidable. The tension is ratcheted up as he attempts to find "cover" on Brighton Pier by latching on to the Brassy Singer . His line " Don't ever leave me" is especially powerful and seconds later his fate is sealed.



    The whole film captures the nasty side of crime. The Gang's rooms in a rat-trap Hotel are little better than cells ( compare this to the magnificent Rooms of the Italian Gangster at a palatial Hotel ). Pinkie is small fry - when he attempts to sell out one of his Gang to the Italian he is "marked up" with a Razor.



    The ending is a classic - The Girl that Pinkie married will keep her illusions through the scratch on a record.

  3. #3
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    (Johnny Rico @ Mar 26 2006, 11:52 PM)

    The ending is a classic - The Girl that Pinkie married will keep her illusions through the scratch on a record.
    That's the "happy ending".

    According to the IMDb Trivia page for the film:

    The film was meant to end with Rose listening the poisonous recording made by Pinkie, which contained the line, "You said you wanted to know how I feel; well, here it is: What you want me to say is 'I love you'. The truth is I hate you, you little slut..." However, this ending was vetoed by the British Board of Film Censors, who made the film-makers shoot a happy ending. In this version, the film ends with the record getting stuck and repeating the phrase "I love you..." The camera then tilts up to a crucifix, suggesting Pinkie's salvation.



    Steve

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    I nominate Brighton Rock.



    Great acting.

    Great direction.

    Great photography.

    Great locations.

    Great writing (shame about the studio enforced change at the end).

    Just an all round fantasticly wonderful piece of film-making....I love it!!!!



    Batty



    under-rated classics - 'October Man' and 'Pool of London'

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: England harryfielder's Avatar
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    It's about time I saw it again....



    Aitch,

  6. #6
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harryfielder
    It's about time I saw it again....



    Aitch,
    I once saw it at the Duke of Yorks in Brighton. It starts with the on screen introduction:

    Brighton today is a large, jolly, friendly seaside town in Sussex, exactly one hour's journey from London.

    But in the years between the two wars, behind the Regency terraces and crowded beaches, there was another Brighton of dark alleyways and festering slums. From here the poison of crime and violence and gang warfare began to spread until the challenge was taken up by the Police.

    This is a story of that other Brighton - now happily no more.




    That raised a good laugh from the Brighton audience



    Steve

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    Ah the Duke of Yorks Preston circus Brighton brings back many fond memories of my youth, mind you it used to be a bit of a flea pit, but its still going strong today, yes Brighton was a bit rough in the 40s 50s and 60s but good fun

  8. #8
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tvden
    Ah the Duke of Yorks Preston circus Brighton brings back many fond memories of my youth, mind you it used to be a bit of a flea pit, but its still going strong today, yes Brighton was a bit rough in the 40s 50s and 60s but good fun
    It's been going since 1910. They claim it's one of the oldest, continually operating cinemas in the world. It is still going strong and it's a lovely place. Like many "art house" cinemas, they have to show some mainstream films to pay the rent but they show a good load of old classics as well.



    Steve

  9. #9
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    Steve its just amazing that the Duke of Yorks has kept going like this and I am so pleased as I go back to Brighton every year and always try and see a film at the Dukes, all the other old cinemas both large and small and there were quite a few!!have now long gone I can remember them all with great fondness to get back on topic, I must admit I really like Brighton rock but then I am biased after living in Brighton for 30 years and being privileged to meet so many of the old stars

  10. #10
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    Love Dickie, but, I thought this was one of his performances that lacked credibility. I am never convinced that he is a hard man in this film. As he is the lead I feel that this detracted from the overall film.

  11. #11
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevie boy
    Love Dickie, but, I thought this was one of his performances that lacked credibility. I am never convinced that he is a hard man in this film. As he is the lead I feel that this detracted from the overall film.
    Brighton Rock is a favourite of mine and although Dickie is very good but he isn't as 'cold' as the Pinkie in the book. There's always a vulnerability about Dickie which he can't shake off. In the scene where Pinkie gets slashed you almost feel sorry for him. It also doesn't help that he looks (and was) too old for the role. Having said that I can't think of another young actor around at that time who could have done better .... it's a very difficult part and Dickie did really well with it.



    Bats.

  12. #12
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    "Brighton Rock" is in my view one of the best, NO the best british film of all time.

    Now i don't say that because i live in the area, neither because i run a guided tour around Brighton concentrating on places featured in this film. Nope, i say it because this film has a good story, emotion and social realism.

    Richard Attenborough and Carol Marsh both give stunning performances, Attenborough's Pinkie is just right for me. He comes across as a small time gangster trying to make it whilst competing with the big gangsters in the town like Colleoni.

    Carol Marsh's naive and innocent Rose is beautifully played out, a shy and unassuming girl who falls for the evil and manipulating Pinkie.

    This film has CLASSIC written all over it. I love this film.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jules9
    "Brighton Rock" is in my view one of the best, NO the best british film of all time.

    Now i don't say that because i live in the area, neither because i run a guided tour around Brighton concentrating on places featured in this film. Nope, i say it because this film has a good story, emotion and social realism.

    Richard Attenborough and Carol Marsh both give stunning performances, Attenborough's Pinkie is just right for me. He comes across as a small time gangster trying to make it whilst competing with the big gangsters in the town like Colleoni.

    Carol Marsh's naive and innocent Rose is beautifully played out, a shy and unassuming girl who falls for the evil and manipulating Pinkie.

    This film has CLASSIC written all over it. I love this film.
    Do you do a Jigsaw tour ???

  14. #14
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    Somebody Picked Up A Great Book For Me The Other Day.its About All The Films Lensed In Brighton ,brighton Rock Features Heavily....look Out For It

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddock54
    Somebody Picked Up A Great Book For Me The Other Day.its About All The Films Lensed In Brighton ,brighton Rock Features Heavily....look Out For It
    what is it called??

  16. #16
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    Its called KISS & KILL,film visions of Brighton.large paper back format....

  17. #17
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    Stevie boy, nope i don't do a Jigsaw tour. Its a cracking film but not quite as popular or good as Brighton Rock.



    The book which i believe is being referred to is the excellent "Kiss and Kill, visions of Brighton". Published by Royal Pavilion on the occasion of the exhibition Kiss & Kill: Film Visions of Brighton. Brighton Museum & Art Gallery 4 May - 1 September 2002.



    This book is a real gem if you love Brighton made films and contains lots of background information on films such as Quadrophenia, Oh, what a lovely war......



    The book is still available at Brighton's reference section above the museum.

    It also crops up on eBay sometimes. Highly recommended.



    I am hoping to do a Brighton Rock walk in early January to coincide with the 60th anniversay of the film's release. If you are interested in doing this walk feel free to pm me and i will keep you updated with date and time.

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    I saw this movie a few weeks ago for the first time, and I was struck by its realism and quality. Personally I think the right choice was made in the ending. Could anyone really regard it as a "happy ending"? I don't think so.





    BDJ

  19. #19
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bulldog Jack
    I saw this movie a few weeks ago for the first time, and I was struck by its realism and quality. Personally I think the right choice was made in the ending. Could anyone really regard it as a "happy ending"? I don't think so.


    BDJ
    Check the ending in the book. Graham Greene regarded the ending in the film as a "happy ending" and a bit of a cop out



    Steve

  20. #20
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    Normally I pay very close heed to GG's movie reviews, but he was not always right or even close to it. He walked out of the TUNNEL, a mistake in my view. Perhaps Britmovie could take a poll of its members to see what percentage regarded it as a "happy ending". "Ironic bordering on cynical" maybe, but "happy", no.



    It could even be argued that it would have been best for her long term to have known the very ugly truth.





    BDJ

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