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Brighton Rock (1948)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 21 September 1948 (France)
Pinkie Brown is a small-town hoodlum whose gang runs a protection racket based at Brighton race course. When Pinkie murders a journalist called Fred Hale whom he believes is responsible for... See full summary »


John Boulting


Graham Greene (from the novel by), Graham Greene (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Attenborough ... Pinkie Brown
Hermione Baddeley ... Ida Arnold
William Hartnell ... Dallow
Harcourt Williams ... Prewitt
Wylie Watson ... Spicer
Nigel Stock ... Cubitt
Virginia Winter Virginia Winter ... Judy
Reginald Purdell Reginald Purdell ... Frank
George Carney ... Phil Corkery
Charles Goldner Charles Goldner ... Colleoni
Alan Wheatley ... Fred Hale
Carol Marsh Carol Marsh ... Rose
Lina Barrie Lina Barrie ... Molly
Joan Sterndale-Bennett Joan Sterndale-Bennett ... Delia
Harry Ross Harry Ross ... Brewer


Pinkie Brown is a small-town hoodlum whose gang runs a protection racket based at Brighton race course. When Pinkie murders a journalist called Fred Hale whom he believes is responsible for the death of a fellow gang-member, 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


Graham Greene's Shocking Thriller of the RAZOR GANGS! See more »


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

21 September 1948 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Brighton Rock See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,626, 21 June 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$223,887, 30 October 2011
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Writer Graham Greene was reputedly delighted with the end result. See more »


As Fred Hale (Alan Wheatley) makes his abortive run away from Pinkie's gang to the railway station in the centre of Brighton, when he sees his way blocked he turns and catches a number 40 bus leaving from the bus stand. The next shot shows the bus leaving - except that it's now a number 6. See more »


Rose: People change.
Ida: I've never changed. It's like those sticks of rock. Bite one all the way down, you'll still read Brighton. That's human nature.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: 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 Empire of the Censors (1995) See more »


You're Driving Me Crazy (What Did I Do?)
Written by Walter Donaldson
Played when Ida looks up Prewitt
See more »

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User Reviews

"Pinkie's gonna look after the skirt"
20 May 2000 | by The_Movie_CatSee all my reviews

Now this is a real find: sandwiched in between a studio-enforced happy ending and a lawyer-appeasing opening text that claims "Brighton isn't like this any more" we have one of the finest British films.

In 1999 the British Film Institute voted for what they regarded to be the 100 greatest British movies ever made. Brighton Rock came in at 15th position, a short way ahead of perhaps more realistic gangster offerings such as Get Carter! and The Long Good Friday. It's deserved, though obviously the film's major complaint with a modern audience would be the stilted speech patterns that are now too quaint for a modern context (a time when men still called women "ducks" and "Bogeys" were policemen); and the "harsh violence" is now tame and ripe for parody.

Amazing that Richard Attenborough, he of ever-changing accent in Jurassic Park, is here cast as a viscous gang leader. Stranger still is the sight of William Hartnell as a tough-talking Cockney, exclaiming "stick yer mincers on that". Much later in his life Hartnell was to suffer a nervous breakdown, leaving him with a poor memory and occasional stammer. This produces ill-advised amusement as his most famous role – that of the first lead in television's Doctor Who – was performed with regular fluffs and stammers. Here, however, sixteen years before he was to take on that part; we are treated to just what a striking and charismatic actor Hartnell could be. While the violent aspects can look dated in context, seeing cuddly Bill Hartnell spitting in a man's home after Attenborough has just slashed the man's face with a razor blade is still disconcerting.

Attenborough is "Pinkie", caught between the police and a larger rival gang who have taken over the Brighton protection racket. After a waitress, Judy, gets too close to his false alibis, he marries her to assure her silence. Though the girl is played with believable insecurity, it's unlikely that anyone could really fall in love with someone as openly spiteful as Pinkie. The notion of charming a girl is completely alien to him, and he begins their first date by implying he'd slash her face. His character is drawn up by having him believe in Hell (though not necessarily in Heaven) and showing a predilection for cat's cradles. Though these displays could overstate his "evil" credentials, in Richard's performance and John Boulting's direction it is a coldly accurate portrayal.

If there's one grain of sympathy for Pinkie, it is that of an underdog. His "territory" eaten up by the much larger Colleoni gang, he's effectively forced out of Brighton with nowhere to go. Photography is excellent, the black and white adding style to what could have easily been a flatter, run-of-the-mill crime yarn. I especially liked the shots of Brighton town and scenes on the ghost train. Best of all is the scene where everyone's laughing at Pinkie's expense, including, it seems, a china doll. There's a real sense of the classic to this one, each shot set up with some precision, a directoral style that Variety blasted at the time of release, claiming it to be "too leisurely for this type of picture". Personally I think it adds a real sense of style, or maybe it's just the long shadows that add a touch of noir. Interestingly, the somewhat obscure title refers not to a romantically-sounding desolate landmark but to the seaside sweet. Concern artist Ida (Hermione Baddeley) claims that no matter how far you bite down into her, she'd have Brighton "written through her all the way". Understandably, this esoteric – if powerful – title was changed in America to a more comprehensible "Young Scarface".

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