Monday, August 29, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Each was (obviously) made after the Second World War, which makes them, for me at least, inherently a little less interesting than later interpretations. For Brighton Rock is one of those works which, almost certainly unknowingly, delivers a snapshot of a world on the edge of the abyss. It's final words seem almost prophetic in this context, as it leaves Rose wandering off towards 'the greatest horror of all'.
There's a rather droll textual forward to the 1947 film which reassures viewers that the violent Brighton underworld and the slums that acted as its incubator no longer exist. (Did the Germans bomb them to oblivion?) Meanwhile Joffe has controversially shifted the chronology of his update forwards into the 60s when social order was crumbling once again, this time as rival youth subcultures asserted their ascendency and the right to duff each other up. It's an interesting gambit, and one which forces Joffe to ditch some of the key plot set-ups from the novel, such as Fred Hale's alter ego Kolley Kibber and the newspaper treasure hunt.
The 23-year-old Dickie Attenborough is quite remarkable as the teen sociopath Pinkie in the Boulting brothers' film. It makes you wonder a bit about the ingratiating lovie he appears to have become in his dotage. The essence of this character is surely his repressed inner life, which manifests itself as an over-expressive tendency in the arena of opportunistic violence. Hard as it is to do more than suggest this turmoil on screen, Attenborough's personification seems to glow with this deadly juxtaposition of cockiness and elemental fear.
Sam Riley's Pinkie is less remarkable, rather more like a junior incarnation of paranoid gangster types we have grown accustomed to on our screens. (Note that the 1947 film reached American cinemas as Young Scarface!) The script does however give a bit more support by implication to the notion that there was something not quite right about Pinkie's relationship with the deceased leader Kite. And we do get the impression that this Pinkie is not quite sure where he falls on the line dividing sympathy and antipathy for the poor waitress, whereas Attenborough gave us very few hints of warmth to work with.