Hard to imagine now but long before Richard Attenborough became Lord Dickie, benevolent patriarch of British moviedom, he specialised in playing weaselly little thugs and punks. Brighton Rock
, adapted from Graham Greene's classic novel, offered him one of his best early roles as Pinkie, juvenile leader of a seedy gang of racetrack crooks in the Sussex seaside town. When it seems an innocent young waitress may know too much about one of their killings, Pinkie decides to keep her quiet by marrying her. But in Greene's world of guilt-ridden Catholicism and inexorable doom, it was never going to be that easy.
Is the famous twist ending a cop-out? That depends just how much irony you read into it. But the Brighton atmosphere, all tawdry gaiety shot through with a crackling undercurrent of fear, is so vivid you can smell it. Made with a cool, dispassionate eye by the Boulting Brothers (before they turned jokey with the likes of I'm Alright Jack, for instance) and superbly shot by Harry Waxman, this is one of Britain's few great contributions to the noir thriller cycle. Young Dickie, twitchy, vicious and terrified, is a revelation--and don't miss William Hartnell, the original Dr Who, as his cynical sidekick. --Philip Kemp
United Kingdom released, Blu-Ray/Region B DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Linear PCM ), SPECIAL FEATURES: Black & White, Cast/Crew Interview(s), Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: This unsparing, brutal look at the British criminal underbelly stars Richard Attenborough as Pinkie Brown, a pock-marked gang leader. While leading his men in a racetrack robbery, Pinkie kills a man. He convinces pretty waitress Rose (Carol Marsh) to provide him with an alibi, promising to marry her in exchange. After the wedding, the sociopathic Pinkie conducts a slow and careful campaign to drive his young wife to suicide. A moody, well-acted film with a stunning performance by the 24-year-old 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 screenplay is superlative. 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. The American distributor of Brighton Rock, smelling disaster with that ambivalent title, renamed the film Young Scarface, and while it was quite controversial in its day, the film can't quite recapture the impact it had upon its initial release. ...Brighton Rock (1947) ( Young Scarface ) (Blu-Ray)