Note: The second entry in the Allan Fish Bonanza encore series, ‘Brighton Rock’ was chosen by Film Noir writer extraordinaire Tony d’Ambra, who himself is a huge fan of the film.
by Allan Fish
(UK 1947 92m) DVD2
Calling Colley Cibber!
p Roy Boulting d John Boulting w Graham Greene, Terence Rattigan novel Graham Greene ph Harry Waxman ed Peter Graham m Hans May (including “The Hebrides” by Felix Mendelssohn) art John Howell
Richard Attenborough (Pinky Brown), Hermione Baddeley (Ida Arnold), William Hartnell (Dallow), Carol Marsh (Rose), Nigel Stock (Cubitt), Wylie Watson (Spicer), Harcourt Williams (Prewitt, the lawyer), Alan Wheatley (Fred Hale), George Carney (Phil Corkery), Charles Goldner (Collecni), Reginald Purdell, Constance Smith, Marianne Stone,
Brighton Rock is one of those great British institutions, not just of cinema, but of literature. Of course, it’s never going to be as crucial to those who haven’t known or lived through the days just before the war, when the film is set, and especially to those who do not know Brighton well. I myself have never been to Brighton, and all bar one of the people I know who did once live there had never heard of Greene’s novel. One, however, did know it and know it well, and for him, Brighton Rock was something spoken of in whispers and its hero, Pinky Brown, the essence of myth. He would say that he could almost feel The Lanes around every corner, the old quaint Brighton that would forever be lost after the war. Here was a film that predicted both the teen violence of A Clockwork Orange and the gang warfare of the Mods and Rockers on the Brighton beaches, immortalised in Quadrophenia. For too long, Brighton Rockhas been overlooked, looked down upon by a critical fraternity too long dominated by American sensibilities. It should, however, be cherished as one of the truly great British films noir of the forties, superbly shot on location in the streets, piers, sea front and racecourse at Brighton. It’s also the best film the Boultings ever made. Ironically, their other masterwork also told of a rock,Thunder Rock. That was a lighthouse on Lake Michigan, far from the rock hard (hence the name) confectionary so long a staple at British seaside towns. Just as Gracie Fields’ Sing as We Go preserved the “Kiss me quick” mentality of that long gone institution for the North that is Blackpool, so did Brighton Rock for the south. David Thomson has said that Rock contains “an authentic tang of fish and chips.” He’s right, but it’s a tang with an unmistakably strong tang of vinegar. (more…)