Brighton Rock (1948)

Nastier than anything else in 1940s British cinema, Richard Attenborough’s intense performance as teenage gangster Pinkie Brown elevates this adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel.

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Alternative titles

  • Young Scarface Alternative


“John Boulting’s adaptation of Graham Greene’s classic novel stakes its claim as one of the darkest films ever to be made on these shores.”
Jamie Russell, BBC Films

To ensure her silence, 17-year-old gangster Pinkie Brown marries the shy waitress (Carol Marsh) who could implicate his gang in a murder. Meanwhile a sea-front entertainer (Hermione Baddeley) tries to solve the crime. The normally amiable Attenborough is so startlingly mean as Pinkie Brown, who dominates his much older gang through sheer force of personality, that the film dips whenever it cuts away to its more humorous subplot and colourful supporting characters.

Scripted for the Boulting Brothers by the illustrious combination of Graham Greene and Terence Rattigan, the film’s tone veers jarringly between doom-laden noir, broad character comedy and the earnest Catholic preoccupations of Greene’s 1938 source novel, but vivid scenes shot on Brighton’s streets and racecourse keep things moving.

A 2010 remake transported the action to mod-era 1960s Brighton. Richard Attenborough showed his darker side once more as the serial killer in 10 Rillington Place (1971).

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