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
Roy Boulton directs this classic adaptation of the Graham Greene novel detailing the activities of a group of thugs in 1930s Brighton. Pinkie Brown (Richard Attenborough) is the head of a gang of small time crooks who make their money from a protection racket centred around Brighton race course. Pinkie is known for his short fuse and brutality, so his murder of a rival, Fred (Alan Wheatley), is very much in character. Pinkie believes, nonetheless, that he has got away with the crime until the promptings of a suspicious local woman, Ida (Hermione Baddeley), threaten to have the case reopened. Since only one person can identify him as the murderer, the waitress, Rose Brown (Carol Marsh), Pinkie comes up with an ingenious solution - marry Rose to stop her testifying against him. But will things go to plan?