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The book is quite excellent, you can hardly put it down. The 1947 movie is superb, and in fact was written by Greene, who later expressed his satisfaction with it. The ending is different, although anyone with her eyes open will see that the contrived trick of the movie ending leads inexorably to the bleak book ending. Richard (not David) Attenborough, later the "Jurassic Park" guy, gives a chilling performance as the heartless Pinkie. Most of the Catholicism is gone from the movie, and the narrative is tightened. It moves along quickly, the cinematography is very impressive, and the supporting roles are expertly handled. "Brighton Rock," by the way, is a type of stick candy sold there that has the word "Brighton" extending all the way through the stick.
Loved this book. Graham Greene is an amazing writer. The feeling of the book stayed with me for a long time. Don't watch the movie, its quite different from the book and of course......not as good.
Entering into the universe of Brighton Rock is to enter a Manichean world of Good and Evil, in which the negative is portrayed as the active, self-affirming, heroic element. When confronted by Ida about her own knowledge of “”right and wrong”, Rose reflects that, “the two words meant nothing to her. Their taste was extinguished by stronger foods -- Good and Evil” (199). The novel’s anti-hero, 17 year old gangster Pinkie, seeks to exterminate all tenderness, pleasure and tolerance in his single-mindedly quest for an “annihilating eternity from which he had come and to which he went” (21). One of the novel’s comic characters, the crooked solicitor, Mr Prewitt, quotes Mephistopholes to Faustus, when he was asked where Hell is located, “He said, ‘why this is Hell, nor are we out of it’” (210).
This dark philosophical novel contains many of the formulas and themes of the noir novel: gang rivalry, gambling syndicates, betrayal, violent murder. It includes acute social commentary concerned with poverty, leisure diversions and manipulations of working people by corporations, machine culture and its effect on popular culture.
That Greene manages the difficult feat of making a metaphysical love affair between these two teens both deeply impacted by their childhoods raised both in poverty and within the Catholic Church visceral and moving for the reader is wonderful.
Brighton Rock manages to balance the philosophy, the action, the social criticism and the love story in such a taut combination that it keeps the reader as tightly wound as the novel’s action. It may be Greene’s greatest novel, a dark pulp gem.
I'm still coming to terms with the ending, or last lines of this grim and gritty story. The story is set against the backdrop of Brighton in the early 1930's. The leader of a small and motley razor gang, led by the hard as nails Pinkie Brown is looking to expand his criminal empire.
It's the character of Pinkie who grabs you and doesn't let go. This was never going to be a pretty story, the characters are too tired and the struggle to survive is too hard. In some ways there couldn't be any doubt as to their path, journey in life.
There is a lot more depth and differing levels of shading to make this more than just a psychological thriller. Rich in characterization and atmosphere, the theme of "good versus evil", more than worth a look at.