For Reel

Brighton Rock (1947)
February 15, 2016, 4:26 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: John Boulting
3.5 Stars
Brighton RockOften referred to as “The Boy” in Graham Green’s novel Brighton Rock, Pinkie Brown is as frightening as gangsters get–ruthless, paranoid, and already resigned to his own damnation. As brought to life by Richard Attenborough in this 1947 adaptation, Pinkie is also a man who is seemingly incapable of empathy, having no sense of loyalty to his most devoted colleagues and finding the woman who loves him absolutely repulsive. Attenborough’s large, doe-eyes are perfectly suited to the task–in several scenes early on, Pinkie stands in the background as his henchmen do the talking, but Attenborough seems to be staring right at the camera with a vacant expression on his face. Depending on the scene, his face could convey this sense of detachment or a consuming panic–Pinkie is as deliberate as any gangster could be in covering his tracks, but in that regard he is also a paranoiac. Brighton Rock follows the source material very deliberately, even if it misses some of the nuances of Greene’s writing. Besides Attenborough’s iconic performance, director John Boulting and cinematographer Harry Waxman make a concerted effort to do justice to the novel’s boardwalk setting, which pays off enormously well–the opening sequence, which follows Fred Hale (Alan Wheatley) as he tries to run from Pinkie and the gang, introduces the setting and establishes Pinkie’s persistence succintly. Hale’s demise occurs in a haunted house amusement park ride that is shot with a montage of macabre, distorted masks and faces. It’s an effective means of demonstrating the material’s submersion in the dangerous underworld of Brighton, and these visual flourishes are the sort of detail that justifies the adaptation.

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