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Brighton Rock (1947)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  December 1947 (UK)
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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 rival, Fred, the police believe it to be suicide. ... See full summary »



(from the novel by), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Virginia Winter ...
Reginald Purdell ...
George Carney ...
Charles Goldner ...
Alan Wheatley ...
Carol Marsh ...
Lina Barrie ...
Joan Sterndale-Bennett ...
Harry Ross ...


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 rival, 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. But with his gang beginning to doubt his ability, and his rivals taking over his business, Pinkie starts to become more desperate and violent. Written by measham

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Grahma Greene's Shocking Thriller of the RAZOR GANGS!


Crime | Drama


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

December 1947 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Brighton Rock  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$10,626 (USA) (19 June 2009)


$223,887 (USA) (28 October 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"You are Colly Kibber and I claim the Daily Messenger prize" -- this was actually paraphrasing The News Chronicle who had a promotional character called Lobby Ludd who toured seaside towns giving away £5 notes when being successfully challenged. See more »


When "Fred" is being chased through the town center of Brighton, and in order to evade his pursuers, he jumps on, then off, a double decker bus. The route number of the bus he jumps off is clearly different from the one he jumps on, as is the large advertisement along the side of the bus. See more »


Ida: Now listen, dear. I'm human, I've loved a boy or two in my time. It's natural, like breathin. Not one of them's worth it, let alone this fellow you've got hold of.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: Brighton today is a large, jolly, friendly seaside town in Sussex, exactly one hour's journey from London. But in the years between the two wars, behind the Regency terraces and crowded beaches, there was another Brighton of dark alleyways and festering slums. From here, the poison of crime and violence and gang warfare began to spread, until the challenge was taken up by the Police. This is a story of that other Brighton - now happily no more. See more »


Featured in Dangerous Edge: A Life of Graham Greene (2013) See more »


More Than Ever
by Leslie Julian Jones
Arranged by John Addison (as Jock Addison)
Performed by Constance Smith (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

Tense; sordid and disturbing, but ultimately a nourishing slice of British gangster fare as a wrongful action merges a number of involving characters and intriguing stories.
3 August 2010 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

Cold, cutthroat and bleak is the tone of Brighton Rock; one of the best lines of the film arriving in the form of an individual whom states that it'd be a "good idea to throw his case down there with him", so as to doubly make it look like he fell when trying to paint a murder involving a worn out banister as an accident on the victim's behalf. On another occasion, two of the members visit a hapless man at an ungodly hour demanding money; his wife is very ill and he can't pay, but that doesn't stop them cutting up his face and spitting on his floor on the way out. Brighton Rock is cold like that, chilling in its portrayal of how these people operate. The film carries that sort of air, the sort that sees mostly everyone who comes into contact with these people and their fearsome leader are individuals whose lives and well-being gradually decline, in what is a fearsome and greatly involving 1947 British piece set in between the two World Wars.

The film will open warmly and welcomely, like a tourist film shot to bring in those from outside of Brighton as typical iconography in the form of a beach, on a hot day, with children happily playing on them complete with everyone else enjoying the warm weather is given to us. But, as the opening title card informs us, Brighton is apparently not all what it seems; and the consequent diving into the brooding, ugly side of the town as all the typical surface content is observed is knowingly delivered. The opening sequence even goes so far as to detail the place was only once rife with wrong-doing and corruption, "now, no more" suggesting a past tense to proceedings and that now everything is fine again; a strange would-be promise to the audience not to worry at any point during the film, as everything will end up rosy by the end. From here, the film's credits are eerily inter-cut with the lapping waves; again, an odd precursor to the film's ultimate conclusion in what happens to whom and where.

The film revolves around the aftermath of a murder perpetrated by a small crew of thugs, a crew consisting mostly of men but with a final member of much younger ilk; a self proclaimed leader named Pinkie. The young thug is put across by way of a fantastic performance from Richard Attenborough, one that oozes evil; menace and a fair degree of sadism, but above all else, Attenborough convinces us this young man, the youngest of the gang, really has the drive and mind of someone capable of taking relentless command of such a crew and dominating. Our first altercations with him sees the film place Pinkie on the first floor of the terrace house they operate out of, as his minions chatter below and must venture up to inform him of some bad news, a sense of hierarchy established by way of a wildly angled shot looking directly below at the minions as one of them braves the stairs to go and see him. His first words, indeed, are a spitting insult later on in a public house directed at an employee about a middle aged woman across the room whom, ironically, becomes more involved later on.

The murder in question is that of a man named Fred (Wheatley), who returns to Brighton for just the one day as a part of a newspaper game-come-promotion, but bumps into this vicious circle of thugs with whom he shares a history, and is promptly offed after some pleading and conversation. One would most certainly have wanted to see Fred's face the previous day when told by his newspaper employers he was to return to Brighton. Director John Boulting, adapting from a Graham Greene novel, nicely has the ensuing chase and murder spill out into what has been established as your more typical Brighton. The promenades, piers and fairgrounds appear harmless enough in the opening, but the cutting to the crew's dingy hideaway does not mean they're limited to such undergrowth, suggesting hatred and crime rife amidst the locals. When Fred runs, towards the bus station; the piers; the bars, anywhere, Boulting brilliantly applies a distorted hand-held aesthetic suggesting chaos and panic, a sense that he isn't in control which stands in perfect balance with that of his pursuers, whose accompanying compositions are steady and far calmer as they give chase: they're in total control of the situation, and the menace builds and builds to a harrowing conclusion.

As the aftermath worsens, and middle aged woman Ida (Baddeley) grows increasingly suspicious - herself defying dominant uniformed male police officers that implore with her the case is closed, Pinkie instigates one of the more unbearable on screen flings in cinematic memory; the charging of himself with the seducing of a young waitress named Rose (Marsh), whom could place blame on Pinkie and his crew for Fred's murder, with what unfolds on that strand one gross love affair complete with its own sordid twists, turns and revelations. The gang must struggle with the occupying of the territory with another local gangster named Colleoni (Goldner), a man whom occupies a more exquisite place of dwelling when we see him in a hotel suite and speaks with a more sophisticated tone, further suggesting hierarchy. He runs a larger group of thugs Pinkie actually uses to help kill off one of his own; of whom the night before the execution Pinkie looms over as the victim lies on a bed, the difference in age resulting in nothing here as expressionistic lighting dominates the locale suggesting brooding menace and evil. The film is a masterclass in gangster detailing and crime fiction story telling, effortlessly branching out an array of characters; plots and subplots as a hostile, dramatic and intimate atmosphere is put across as these people merge resulting in it easily being one of the great British films.

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