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					"Brighton Rock," (1947) is a classic 92-minute black and white film noir adaptation of
outstanding British author Graham Greene's classic, early career, downbeat novel of
the same name, Brighton Rock. This British mystery/romantic crime drama/thriller
was actually adapted for the screen by the 20th century figure Greene himself,
working with noted British playwright/screenwriter Terence Rattigan, and was
directed by John Boulting, soon to become a comic icon through his work at Ealing
Studios.

The production is, of course, set in Brighton, once a quiet seaside resort town, with
some historic artifacts and buildings from the days when it was a favorite royal
resort. The Brighton Pavilion, which we see here, and I've managed to see a couple
of times in my life, is an exotic fantasy made beautiful reality. Nevertheless, Brighton
did, in the 1930s, enter rather a high-crime period, much of it centered on the city's
race track. The rivalry between gangster Pinky Brown's gang and the bigger, more
efficient one run by Colletti provides the background, with a riveting scene at the
racetrack, where Colletti's boys are waving around straight razors. Soon Pinky, who
runs a protection racket at the race course, has ordered the death of Fred Hale,
member of Coletti's gang. The police believe the rival mobster's death to be suicide.
But Ida Arnold was with Fred just before he died, and does not believe he killed
himself. She sets out to find the truth. The none-too-bright Rose, who waitresses at
the local tea room, Snow's, has somehow witnessed the murder. Older and wiser
heads in his gang advise Pinky to romance, seduce and marry the waitress, in hopes
of preventing her telling the police what she saw. So Pinky begins this program,
which he finds rather distasteful. But, unfortunately, he has been destabilized by
recent events; he will become more desperate and violent, and will begin to act out
in ultimately self-destructive ways. Pinky murders one of one of his own gang on a
beach front amusement park ride; tries to cover it up, and has growing difficulty
dealing with his people.

A young Richard Attenborough, at the start of his long, prolific, greatly honored
career, as actor/ director/producer, stars as Pinky. Lord Richard Attenborough, as he
now is styled, gives a performance full of menace and malice that I, for one, having
only seen some of his later work, never imagined he had in him. In the 1950s,
Attenborough worked in several successful Ealing comedies, including I'm All Right
Jack . He won back to back Golden Globes as Best Supporting Actor for The Sand
Pebbles and Doctor Dolittle ; and Golden Globe and Oscar Awards for Best Director
for Gandhi ; as that film's producer, he also won the Oscar for Best Film.

The picture's b/w cinematography, by Harry Waxman, is superb, deep focussed, and
moody, and, for once, the sea looks threatening, rather than that picture postcard
bright smiley blue. The gangsters also look a lot meaner in this black and white
treatment than they ever could in color. As most all of Catholic convert Graham
Greene's works (The End of the Affair, The Power and the Glory (Vintage Classics)),
the film deals with the big Catholic questions of sin, guilt and redemption. Greene,
by authoring both the underlying novel and the screenplay has been able to give
Pinky a depth of character not usually seen in a villain, and the movie a similar
depth. Well worth seeing.

				
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posted:12/10/2012
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