Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Oh! We Do Like to be Beside the Seaside

Talking of some things not changing...

The Graham Greene novel 'Brighton Rock' is among my favourites - if not my top novel of all time. Quite often, people are hyper-critical of films of their favourite novels, but I have nothing but praise for the 1947 film of the same name.  Perhaps it is because I grew up knowing the film, and it coloured my view of the novel when I came to read it.  But equally it could simply be because it is one heck of a film.  Richard Attenborough is so menacing in the role of Pinky that you wouldn't dare say a word against him!  William Hartnell also needs singling out for his portrayal of Dalloway, and translating this multi faceted personality into a screen character.  Greene himself wrote the screenplay, ensuring that nothing was lost from the story.  It is a film of style and integrity and must rank among the top classic novel to screen translations.

The scenes of the British at leisure are just as much a draw to me as the storyline.  After watching the film you can conclude that in fact, little has changed over the past 60+ years.  A visit to a seaside resort today could still follow a pattern that would be familiar to our ancestors - except of course the method of travel.  The pier, the beach and sitting in the sun are the backbones of the day.  Hale meets his doom on the ghost train, and Pinky follows up the murder by winning a prize at a shooting stall - activities still far from obsolete.  Cafes and pubs still make up a large part of the seafront.  Compare this to, say, George Formby in the 1930s film 'No Limit', and the Carry On team in Brighton in the 1970s 'Carry on at Your Convenience'.  Shooting ranges, the ghost train - they're all there.  It seems that since the seaside resort took off with the invention of paid holidays we've only ever been after one thing - a drink, a sit down and then being scared half to death in the name of fun.

See http://drmattkerry.blogspot.co.uk/ for some more seaside films.


  1. Excellent film, and you're spot on about Attenborough's menacing performance. Another favourite seaside flick of mine would have to be The Punch & Judy Man starring Tony Hancock. I'm sure you'll be familiar with that one as well?

  2. Oooh I haven't seen the Punch and Judy man for years...it's all very hazy. I'm a big fan of Hancock's Half Hour, but I believe that the film is quite far removed from those radio/television episodes. Come on Film4, put it on so I can watch it again!

  3. Yeah, the P&J Man is quite downbeat (even by Tony Hancock standards!) but would sit very well in a daytime Film Four or More 4 slot I'd say.