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IMDb page here. Watched as a follow-up to reading the book in the summer, and because the DVD was only a fiver in HMV.

The main thing you notice about this film if you watch it so soon after reading the book is how very pared down it is. It's only an hour and a half long, but I must say the editing is some of the most impressive I've ever seen. Scenes are contracted, simplified, or omitted altogether, but all the important stuff is there, and both the complexity and the characterisation still comes across very clearly - if not with quite the same depth and texture as Greene manages in the book.

I don't think I have a great deal more to say about the film than I already did about the book, but it was interesting to notice that despite only 9 years passing between the publication of the book and the production of the film, the latter opens with a scrolling text which explicitly states that before the war, Brighton had been a pretty shady place, but it's now all jolly and lovely and not like that any more at all - no guv! I suppose partly this springs from a general desire to leave the past behind in the wake of the war - but I can't help but wonder if the producers were also under a contractual obligation to the Brighton tourist board in exchange for being allowed to film there.

Of course I knew Richard Attenborough was in it as Pinkie, because his picture is prominent on the front of the box. But as the opening credits began rolling, there were some other surprises. Dallow, Pinkie's most loyal henchman, was none other than a sprightly young William Hartnell, while Rose was Carol Marsh - admittedly not a household name these days, but a face I am very, very familiar with after repeated childhood viewings of Hammer's 1958 Dracula, in which she is Lucy 'Holmwood'. The cinematography was also the work of Harry Waxman, later of The Wicker Man, which goes a long way towards explaining why both are so effectively shot.

Definitely deserves its reputation as a cinematic classic - but if you could only fit in one out of watching this and reading the book, I'd say go for the book.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 27th, 2007 08:59 am (UTC)
Plus it also has well-known female impersonator Herminone Baddeley in it (i.e. the sort of female actress who might as well be a drag queen but isn't). She normally did comic roles like Ealing comedies and St Trinians.

Oct. 27th, 2007 12:15 pm (UTC)
Ah, interesting. Actually, 'my' Ida when I was reading the book had looked more like Joan Sims (of Carry On fame) - who is of course much the same kind of figure. I hadn't knowingly encountered Hermione Baddeley before, but I have seen most of the St. Trinian's films, so I suppose I must have done.
Oct. 27th, 2007 10:28 am (UTC)
Surprising- now that he mainly plays twinkly old gents- to see Attenborough as a young psycho. He's a very fine actor.

Hartnell's good too. Have you seen Odd Man Out? It's another brilliant, quasi-expressionist British thriller from the same period (and with Hartnell guesting as a toughie).
Oct. 27th, 2007 12:18 pm (UTC)
Yes, both of them are very different in this film from their better-known later incarnations. It's especially strange to see Hartnell so butch and physical.
Oct. 27th, 2007 01:54 pm (UTC)
Number 11
The film commences if I remember aright with a view of Brighton Station and Queens Road with a Number 11 Bus departing (presumably to Moulsecoomb). It is Heath legend that this bus (a Number 11) ended the life of my Great Uncle Lesley at some juncture thereafter..

Prior to the Great Storm of 1705 there was a South Street in Brighthelmstone as it then was which was really shady..being composed of dark and small fishermen's cottages but the storm saw the end of habitation below the front.
Oct. 27th, 2007 02:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Number 11
Hehe - your family has a lot of excellent legends! Do it take it that a branch of it hails from that part of the world, then?
Oct. 27th, 2007 02:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Number 11
Yes..the Heath side has always had pretensions..usually unrealised. My grandfather for instance...managed a plum job in the Royal Air Force in Egypt in WWII and apparently had time to have an affair with a Polish woman.

Upon his return here..he became a bank operative.
Oct. 27th, 2007 02:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Number 11
Ah - so perhaps you have sekrit Polish relatives, too? ;-)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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