The young-gangster-falls-for-nice-girl story in Rowan Joffe‘s Brighton Rock (IFC Films, opening today) has nothing — repeat, nothing — to do with the 1964 mod-vs.-rocker riots that happened in Brighton, England, in the summer of 1964. Joffe simply decided to mesh the original Grahame Greene story, set in 1938, with this tumultuous occurence, the mid ’60s being a hipper backdrop than the late ’30s, etc.
More than anything else my recent viewing of Brighton Rock recalled Franc Roddam‘s Quadrophenia (1979), which peaked with a rousing, contact-high recreation of the Brighton riots that is much more thrilling (and far more realistic and chaotic-feeling) than the one in Joffe’s film…no offense. I first saw Quadropehnia at Manhattan’s 8th Street Playhouse, and then I showed it to the kids about ten years ago. The older I’ve gotten the more I’ve come to realize that this film — loosely based on the Who rock opera and basically the story of Jimmy Cooper (Phil Daniels) and his identity, friendship and girlfriend issues — belongs in the near-great category.
But what a shock to see this clip and realize that Roddam forgot to change the letters on a movie marquee while shooting a crowd scene, and so we read, however briefly, that Warren Beatty‘s Heaven Can Wait and Randal Kleiser‘s Grease — both released in the summer of ’78, when Quadrophenia was shooting — are the current attractions. What an embarassment for production designer Simon Holland (who’s now dead). I mean, it’s so easy to change the letters on a marquee. It’s not like it costs anything.