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Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock

By Patrick Samuel • February 25th, 2014
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
BRIGHTON ROCK (MOVIE)
Charter Films

Original release: December 1947
Running time: 89 minutes

Director: John Boulting
Writers: Graham Greene, Terence Rattigan

Cast: Richard Attenborough, Hermoine Baddeley, Carol Marsh, William Hartnell,Wylie Watson

Brighton Rock

“You wanted a recording of my voice, well here it is. What you want me to say is, ‘I love you’. Well I don’t. I hate you, you little slut…”

Brighton Rock remains one of those few films I’m yet to recover from seeing. Like many of the great Noirs it’s usually associated with, there’s a darkness around its characters, most notably Pinkie (Richard Attenborough), but unlike the rest of them, there’s also an unfolding tragedy in the deepest sense with regards to Rose (Carol Marsh), the unlucky soul who falls in love with a murderer.

Adapted from the 1937 novel by Graham Greene, it tells the story of a ruthless and sadistic criminal, Pinkie, who runs a protection racket in Brighton. In an attempt to cover up a recent murder, he ends up marrying Rose – the only witness who can tie him to the crime.

While Rose believes she can smoothen out her husband’s rough edges, her friend Ida (Hermoine Baddeley) thinks otherwise as she investigates the murder of her close friend and strongly suspects Pinkie had something to do with it. Ida watches as Rose gets drawn deeper into Pinkie’s dark world and is compelled by her motherly feelings for the girl to do something and get her out of there.

In one scene we see Rose and Pinkie walking on the pier when she spots a recording booth and asks him to make a record for her. Pinkie goes in and records the most brutal message for the girl who loves him, and gives it to her.

What’s so heartbreaking is that we see her finally listening to it at the end of the film when she goes to stay at a convent. Yet instead of hearing the full recording – and as if by some never-too-late heavenly intervention – Rose only hears part of it. Where pinkie says “I love you” gets stuck in a groove and repeats over and over.

Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock brings its own blend of moodiness and brutality mixed with Catholicism and morality. We see Brighton as a holiday spot for families contrasted with seedy lodgings and a criminal underworld and we’re reminded that for every picture perfect community, there’s always a dirty underbelly. It’s a classic film, but Film Noir it’s certainly not.

It holds some of the traits of Noir; a doomed relationship, a corrupt world and events that spiral beyond control, but this isn’t enough to classify it as Noir, to do so would be to strip those films of their expressionistic qualities entirely.

Instead, the term “crime thriller” might be more fitting, but it’s also something else too. Andrew Spicer, in his book Film Noir (2002) notes that British films such as Brighton Rock have more in common with French Poetic Realism, but maybe a whole new term is needed for this film – British Poetic Realism?

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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