DVD Review: Brighton Rock

Richard Attenborough may be thought of these days as cuddly old Dickie, frequenter of chat shows and the sort of grandad everyone wants, but there was a time when he was known for playing slightly unsettling characters in solid British feature films.

Attenborough’s breakthrough role came in the shape of “Pinkie” Brown in 1947’s Brighton Rock (Optimum), a Brighton-based hoodlum whose career begins to unravel following the murder of a journalist.

When it becomes clear that Pinkie could be arrested if a witness comes forward, he makes it his mission to silence young Rose (Carol Marsh), a girl who has fallen madly in love with him.

Sadly Pinkie’s feelings are more of hate than love and it’s not long before he’s trying to plan a way to dispose of all the evidence, including Rose.

Watching Brighton Rock today, it’s not hard to see why Attenborough’s performance gained him so much praise and the film a place in the BFI’s list of Top 100 British films. The actor is the epitome of evil, a calculating character with no morals and a skewed view of the world.

Aided by the first Doctor Who himself, William Hartnell, as his right hand man, Dallow, and hindered by an innocent Carol Marsh, Attenborough glides through the film with ease.

Brighton is a suitable squalid backdrop for Pinkie’s machinations, the faded seaside glamour a metaphor for the gloss that is slowly rubbed away from his facade as the film progresses.

As chilling today as it was back in the 1940s, Brighton Rock deserves to be watched by a new generation who hopefully won’t forget it now that a new, 1960s set, version has been released to cinemas.

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