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Brighton Rock (novel): Wikis


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First edition cover, artist George Salter

Brighton Rock is a novel by Graham Greene, published in 1938, and later made into a 1947 film of the same name. The novel is a murder thriller set in 1930s Brighton. The title is a reference to a confectionery traditionally sold at seaside resorts.


Plot summary

Fred Hale comes to Brighton on assignment to anonymously distribute cards for a newspaper competition (this is a variant of "Lobby Lud" in which the name of the person to be spotted is "Kolley Kibber"). The antihero of the novel, Pinkie Brown, is a teenage sociopath and up-and-coming gangster. Hale had betrayed the former leader of the gang Pinkie now controls. Ida Arnold, a kind-hearted and decent woman, is drawn into the action by a chance meeting with the terrified Hale, whom Pinkie murders in obscure circumstances shortly afterwards. Pinkie's attempts to cover his tracks lead to a chain of fresh crimes and to an ill-fated marriage to Rose, a waitress who has the power to destroy his alibi. Ida pursues Pinkie relentlessly, in part to protect Rose from the deeply disturbed boy she has married.

Although ostensibly an underworld thriller, the book is also a challenge to Roman Catholic doctrine concerning the nature of sin and the basis of morality (Pinkie and Rose are Catholics, as was Greene, and their beliefs are contrasted with Ida's strong but non-religious moral sensibility).



Greene and Terence Rattigan wrote the screenplay for a 1947 film adaptation, produced and directed by John and Roy Boulting, with assistant director Gerald Mitchell. The film starred Richard Attenborough as Pinkie, Carol Marsh as Rose, William Hartnell as Dallow, and Hermione Baddeley as Ida. The climax of the film takes place at the West Pier, which differs from the novel, the end of which takes place in the nearby town of Peacehaven. The film is considered one of the most successful British films noir. In the United States, the film was released under the title Young Scarface.

Rowan Joffe will direct a film adaptation in 2010 starring Sam Riley [1] IMDb link] and Andrea Riseborough as 'Pinkie' and Rose respectively. It will also star Dame Helen Mirren as Ida Arnold. [2]. Location filming for the Pier scenes of the remake took place in Eastbourne in October 2009, with Eastbourne Pier standing in for Brighton's Palace Pier. Filming of the scenes involving the Regency Cafe took place in Page Street, Westminster, on December 6th 2009.


Film composer John Barry and lyricist Don Black wrote together a musical version based on Greene's novel. The show opened in London's Almeida Theatre on 20 September and ran until 13 October 2004. However, poor reviews meant it failed to get a West-End transfer.

References in other works

  • 'king dork' by Portman, Frank has the main character, Chi-Mo, refer to the novel throughout the novel. Chi Mo ends up beating up a guy for pouring Coke on 'Brighton beach'


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