BRIGHTON ROCK


GRAHAM GREENE'S Pinkie is the template for a whole host of mean, brooding, angry young men that litter the gangster genre.

Published in 1938, Brighton Rock still has the air of menace which many modern day gang-related books lack.

Pinkie is, quite simply, terrifying. He has no moral compass.

And, like in all good books of this nature, his character is in sharp contrast with Rose, the waitress who can only see the good in people and believes that Pinkie is a lost soul in need of companionship, love and guidance.

What she doesn’t realise is that, rather than being motivated by a loving or sexual attraction, he is seeking a relationship with her for the sole reason of avoiding jail for a vicious murder.

Rose isn’t quite aware of the significance of what she saw on the day a man was murdered near Brighton pier, but if she tells what she knows she will put Pinkie in the frame.

It is when he learns that wives cannot be forced to testify against their husband that he nurtures the relationship in a bid to drag her down the aisle.

The hero is a strange one. Ida is a brassy, fun-loving seaside character who had been drinking with the murder victim shortly before the fatal act.

She is also in pursuit of Rose, wanting her to go the police and tell all she knows about the death, having been drinking with the victim just minutes earlier.

Their follows a game of cat and mouse, with Ida and Pinkie fighting over the attentions of the naive Rose. In the end Ida is as much concerned with rescuing Rose from Pinkie’s evil clutches as she is for seeing justice done.

I haven't seen the newest version of the film, but the original with Richard Attenborough (above) in the main role is an absolute classic.

Greene (below) got the idea for Brighton Rock after seeing a racecourse gang tried at the Lewes Assize Courts in July 1936 after a serious affray in which 16 men armed with hatchets, hammers and iron bars attacked a bookmaker and his clerk.

The gang leaders name was James Spinks, nicknamed Spinky, which probably gave him the idea for Pinkie.

Later Green went with his brother to Brighton races on a Bank Holiday Monday to get a feel for the place and mix with some of the ‘low lifes’ in the enclosure.

It was a particularly busy day with crowds flocking to the seaside town and hundreds of young people sleeping out on the Sunday night under the piers or along the beach.

It was this post-war Brighton – with its modern, crude, hedonistic crowds – which Greene chose to depict on the day that Charles Hale arrives on the pier in the guise of Kolly Kibber, the subject of a cheap newspaper stunt, who ends up being the victim of the savage murder.

For anyone who loves the battle between good and evil played out in its most black and white form, Brighton Rock is a must.

5 stars

#author #GrahamGreene #Gangsterfictionblog #gangsterfictionreviews #Londongangsterfictionwriter #NickRippington #BrightonRock

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