Best 1938 Adventures (3)
May 12, 2018
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1938 adventure novels. Happy 80th anniversary!
Graham Greene’s crime adventure Brighton Rock (1938).
Considered by many Greene fans to be his best thriller, Brighton Rock concerns the quest of the bourgeois Ida Arnold to prove that the suicide of Fred Hale, a newspaperman who’d written about a gang of racketeers in the seaside town of Brighton, was in fact murder. Ida suspects Pinkie Brown, a teenaged sociopath who has assumed control of the gang; but when she attempts to get a witness — Rose, a naive young waitress — to tell the truth, Pinkie marries Rose. Pinkie’s gang is losing faith in him, his rivals are closing in… what will he do? There is a theological subtext to the story: Pinkie is a Catholic, and his beliefs about the nature of sin and the basis of morality are — we are given to understand — superior to Ida’s non-religious moral sensibility. It’s also an indictment of English mass culture, from popular newspapers to slot machines, soulless day trippers, and pop music on the radio.
Fun facts: Adapted as a 1947 movie starring Richard Attenborough as Pinkie; Carol Marsh won the part of Rose after thousands auditioned. A 2010 adaptation starred Sam Riley as Pinkie, and Helen Mirren as Ida Arnold. Morrissey’s song “Now My Heart Is Full” references Brighton Rock characters: “Dallow, Spicer, Pinkie, Cubitt.”
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.