Brighton Rock Blu-ray Review
‘Brighton Rock’ comes to UK Region B locked Blu-ray with a good looking (though not perfect) 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio. For a film made in 1947, the image is quite sharp. Just look at the eyes and skin pores on show here. Film grain is noticeable throughout, but this is a result of the original stock used which was slower and grainer than modern celluloid. The print used for the transfer was a very good one, but not pristine. In the Ghost train sequence, some neg handling sparklies are in evidence and there are other scenes with light dirt, dust and the odd bit of damage. There is also some minor vertical print movement on certain scenes, that I would attribute to a little bit of wear on the sprocket holes, but it's not too distracting. So the restoration that has been done here is of the limited variety. All the same, it’s a bit like having your own print of the film, complete with the original Censor’s certificate at the head - which most film collectors like to have. Contrast is generally good throughout, although it wavers in some dark scenes – as if caused in the processing of the original neg. Overall though, this is what I’d call proper black-and-white. Some may find the lack of shadow detail problematic but this is more due to the slower film stock used in the 1940's rather then the transfer. If it ain't there, it ain't there. Putting aside the nitpicks, this is without doubt the best I have ever seen this film look on any format to date.
The audio on ‘Brighton Rock’ comes in an LPCM 2.0 mix with the original mono being replicated on the left and right tracks. If you really wind up the wick, you can hear some underlying optical soundtrack noise but at normal listening levels there’s no hiss, snap, crackle or pop to spoil the show. It sounds like a filter has been added to reduce hiss and this has caused a slight loss of high end detail, but not enough to make speech too muddy. It's all still intelligible and we catch every line. Come on, this was originally mixed just after World War II – so for a film of this vintage it’s really quite acceptable. The score by Hans May is of its time and tries to inject drama noisily in places. It's not Hi-Fi by any means but a good clean representation of the original soundtrack. The final scene is very poignant and features the recording technology of the period.
Interview with Rowan Joffe (SD, 20 mins) - Here’s an interview with Rowan Joffe who directed the 2010 version of ‘Brighton Rock’. He discusses Attenborough’s performance, Graham Greene’s dislike for the movie, his use of the original movie as research for his own version and answers many questions shown on caption cards between the talking heads. He fills us in on a lot of interesting background information about the 1947 version.
Audio Interview (68 mins) - John Boulting & Richard Attenborough are interviewed by Stanley Reed at the NFT in 1954 in an awfully British fashion. Roy Boulting was unable to attend due to illness. The focus is on the ‘Boulting Boys’ but Richard Attenborough comes across as the most witty as he explains what it was like to work for them. There are some nice location stills on screen while John Boulting is being interviewed as he talks about the many comedies they made, with reference to ‘I’m Alright, Jack.’ which was then in production. It’s a bit laboured at times, but you’d never get the chance to hear it anywhere else.
The classic Boulting Brothers drama ‘Brighton Rock’ comes to UK Region B locked Blu-ray with a good, if not perfect looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Contrast is generally good as is sharpness for a film made in 1947. Only the very occasional sparkly, bit of dirt and light scratch catch the eye in this digitally restored release.
The audio comes in an LPCM 2.0 track that uses the original mono with some cleanup to reduce hiss and produce an acceptable soundtrack at normal listening levels.
An Audio interview from 1954 at the NFT with John Boulting and Richard Attenborough gives us some insight into British Cinema of the period, while a recent interview with Rowan Joffe (who directed the 2010 version) also provides some nuggets for the film buff.
As a movie ‘Brighton Rock’ is all about Richard Attenborough’s performance as small time gangster and psychopath Pinkie Brown who inhabits the late 40’s seaside town. William Hartnell, Nigel Stock, Hermione Baddeley and Carol Marsh provide the great period faces in a screenplay by Graham Greene and Terrence Rattigan.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.