Brighton Rock remake
Brighton Rock is to be remade, and for those of you who don't know, this is a classic film adapted from the Graham Greene on his screenplay for John Boulting's 1947 film starring Richard Attenborough and Carol Marsh. It's very notable for Attenborough's amazing performance which is very against type and allows him to play a rather nasty gangster.
Now the film is set to be remade, and thankfully it's by a British cast, with Attenborough being replaced by Sam Riley and Marsh by Carey Mullilgan. The film will be adapted by Rowan Joffe who will also direct, but he says he's not remaking the film.
Instead Rowan Joffe is insistent that he's returning to the novel for his Brighton Rock, the source of the story, rather than remaking the film directly, something which should please film and book purists galore, as well as straight film fans who love Brighton Rock and Richard Attenborough's superb performance.
The story sees a small time gangster called Pinkie, played by Attenborough, who is running a protection racket based at a Brighton racecourse. He orders the murder of a rival and the police are convinced enough to believe that it is suicide. However one woman doesn't believe it was suicide and was with him before he died, while investigating she discovers that one person knows the truth, a waitress called Rose, played by Carol Marsh.
Pinkie sees a quick way out, marry Marsh and keep her quiet. However at the same time his gang are beginning to doubt that he can carry out the running of the racket, and his rivals are drawing closer and putting more pressure on him, and as this happens he begins to get more and more desperate.
That's the film plot, having not read the novel I can't say how different a film inspired by that plot would be over a remake of the film. One thing we do know is that the story won't be taking place in the 1939 of the novel, instead it's an equally surprising 1964. The different hasn't really hit home with me, I'm not entirely sure why the date has been moved forward, that was until I read the story in The Daily Mail.
The reason that the setting is in 1964 is to take advantage of a gang era of that time, the Mods and the Rockers.
Sam Riley would seem rather a good choice to take over the role, although I would have thought a more unexpectedly bad actor would have been better, someone you couldn't believe was going to be bad. You know who I would have wanted? Daniel Radcliffe, now that would have made a superb choice for the role.
Speaking through Variety, Rowan Joffe says of his decision:
“I'm adapting the book, not remaking the film...It is one of the greatest English novels ever written and just like with a Shakespeare play, it deserves to have more than one adaptation.”
Well that is true, and Graham Greene is a truly great novelist. However the move to the Mods and Rockers era does suggest that the new film version is going to take a very different twist. Joffe talks about the new film and why the novel couldn't be properly adapted and the full story told back then.
“The mores and censorship at the time the first film was made meant the film-makers were not able to explore the violence in the book and we need to get away from that era to fully explore the truth of the story...
...The essence is that Pinkie wants to kill a girl he fancies. He's a teenager full of hormones and now I can show the truth of that...”
Speaking of the new setting for the film he said that it was...
“...a real head-long plunge into sexual modernity.”
With him describing the character of Pinkie as a psycho sexually-abused kid who has become a cold-blooded killer, really does show you why the update was necessary and that the character would thrive much more in this time.
Another reason is that the death penalty was still being used at this time, and that has an important hold over Pinkie. He sees that he could hang, and rather than that he sees his way out to marry the witness.
It's an interesting idea and surprising that the modernisation has only gone so far, but it's also an interesting time to set it in. Riley and Carey Mullilgan will also pull in a younger audience, and I'm keen to see how this remake works out, but then I can't help wondering if a 1939 version could still have been made and still be true to the novel, after all the censors nowadays are not those of the late thirties.