Brighton Rock at Film Forum
If nothing else, 1947's Brighton Rock marked the first time Graham Greene was pleased by an on-screen rendition of his work—but it's much more than a Third Man dry run. A seedy noir, equal parts concealed-camera atmosphere and tense set pieces, director John Boulting's adaptation primarily concerns itself with the last days and maneuverings of young psychopath Pinkie Brown (Richard Attenborough, before the suffocating kindliness and prestige projects). Pinkie wants to be a big-business bookie, but pre-war Brighton ("thankfully no more," the opening titles assure us) already has its kingpins. Pinkie can't stop himself from committing quite unnecessary murders, but he's not as sharp as he thinks; notably, buffoonish-looking drunkard/music-hall entertainer Ida Arnold (Hermione Baddeley) has his number, and spends most of the movie trying to get people to listen to her. More Dickensian than usual for Greene, there's colorful, larger-than-life supporting players aplenty, and the location shooting is even stronger than in Rialto Pictures' last British exhumation, It Always Rains on Sunday. The demerits are slight: Boulting strains too visibly for "art" status with some overly pushy compositions, and Greene's got his usual monomaniacal fixation with Catholic guilt and redemption—though here, for once, it's worked into the plot, and rather neatly at that.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.
More Film News
- Netflix’s 'Narcos' Tries to Be 'The Wire' for Colombia’s Drug War
- ‘The Second Mother’ Offers a Sharp Brazilian Take on the Upstairs/Downstairs Drama
- The Predictability of Teary Kids Doc 'My Voice, My Life' Doesn't Make It Any Less Powerful
- The Subject of 'Butterfly Girl' Pushes Herself to Take Chances Despite the Pain