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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Two sticks of Brighton Rock

Of course they are two different films but both are based on Graham Greene's classic novel - and surprisingly the 2010 version holds itself up well against the original. Sam Riley especially does a good job in the role make iconic by Richard Attenborough in the 1947 original.

The plot of both films is, of course, virtually identical - Pinkie Brown is a small-town hoodlum whose gang runs a protection racket based at Brighton race course. When Pinkie orders the murder of a newspaper man, Fred, the police believe it to be suicide. This doesn't convince Ida Arnold, who was with Fred just before he died, and she sets out to find the truth. She comes across naive waitress Rose, who can prove that Fred was murdered. In an attempt to keep Rose quiet Pinkie marries her, because of course a wife can't be made to testify against her husband. But with his gang beginning to doubt his ability, and his rivals taking over his business, Pinkie starts to become more desperate and violent.

The performance by Attenborough as the teenage sociopath is the more convincing of the two but then the actor was only 23 at the time, while Riley was 30 when he played the part, but both actors hold the screen well even if it is Attenborough who is the most memorable. The 2010 version also updates the film to the 1960's and uses the beach battles between the Mods and Rockers for one key scene but other than that there was no real reason to update the movie from its original time scale.The modern version also suffers in that it did away with the race track elements in favor of the mods/rocks confrontations, but the raceing scenes were intrinstic to the plot while the beach battle scenes seem like  a supplement to the story proper.

If there is one thing that the 2010 version does better it is in the portrait of Rose - Andrea Riseborough is excellent in the role and far more effective than Carol Marsh was in the original movie. She seems much more vulnerable and it is far more believable when she is manipulated by Pinkie.

The superbly cynical ending is the same in both movie versions, and it really is difficult to say that one is better than the other. Both have their strong points and the 2010 is far more noirish than the original, but the original features Richard Attenborough who will forever be Pinkie no matter how many other versions of the movie there turns out to be.

Best see them both then and read the classic book which served as their source material.

1 comment:

Ron Scheer said...

Thanks for the tip. Just went into the netflix queue at our house.