By Blake Backlash
Let’s begin at the seaside with Grahame Greene. Imagine spending a wet Bank Holiday afternoon in Brighton and there’s a good chance you can already taste the atmosphere of damp, disappointment and danger that seeps through the films I want to tell you about. Graham Greene is important too. In the three years before World War II, he wrote A Gun for Sale, The Confidential Agent and Brighton Rock. All three are thrillers where there’s an attempt to bind the mechanics of a pulp plot to larger questions about fate and sin. Eccentric and desperate characters stumble through starkly atmospheric locations. Much of this is part of the template for all film noir – indeed A Gun For Sale became A Gun for Hire, with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. But Greene casts a long shadow over British noir in particular.