A book by Graham Greene, a film starring Richard Attenborough, and a rather famous piece of confectionery.
Brighton Rock was Greene's 14th book, begun in 1937, and published in 1938. It is the story of a young criminal 'mastermind' named Pinkie who leads a horse racing racket, his murder of a tourist, marriage to the sole witness, a young waitress, to ensure her silence at court, pursuit by an acquaintance of the victim's and eventual...well that would be giving it away, wouldn't it?
Greene started the novel as a detective story, but quickly developed it into something deeper. Like so many of his other novels, such as 'The Power and the Glory', Brighton Rock depends heavily on religion. Pinkie, whom Greene describes as a Peter Pan figure, is a former Roman Catholic who maintains some of the church's traditions while rejecting it on the whole. He sees his crimes as having excuses, while others profit from worse crimes and appear to lead virtuous lives.
Rose, on the other hand, the sole witness to the crime, is a fairly devout Catholic who is bent from her beliefs by Pinkie's pseudo-religious morality system. She is portrayed as a typical product of organised religion - impressionable and wavering. Ida Arnold, Pinkie's pursuer, has been known to dabble with the occult through Ouija boards, and yet her sense of morals are the most developed in the novel - pursuing Pinkie merely because she sees that an injustice has been done and that no one else will seek the truth.
The name of the novel not only focuses on the scene of the focal crime, but also on one of the novel's main themes: "I've never changed. It's like those sticks of rock: bite it all the way down. That's human nature" (Ida, to Rose). Even though Pinkie has the ability and possibility to change, he seems unable to, as though God had printed his salvation (or lack of it) on his soul.
Released in 1947, this is a quintessential British film noir. Written by Graham Greene and Terence Rattigan, and also known as Young Scarface in America. The cast:
While the film's ending does deviate slightly from that of the book, this is a faithful adaptation, with Attenborough performing brilliantly. Running time: 92 mins. Black and White. Certification: Britain: PG
Rock is crystallised sugar, of which Brighton Rock is a very famous variety. The kind of rock found at seaside resorts wil typically be packaged in plastic with a picture of the resort. On the confectionery itself, the name of the resort is printed all the way through, so that should one cut the rock, the name would still be visible.
See also stick of rock for more detailed information on the quintessential British seaside confectionery.