Richard Attenborough did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Pinkie Brown in Brighton Rock.
Richard Attenborough despite having a very long career as an actor has been only ever nominated for producing and directing Gandhi. He never once was nominated for his acting efforts despite winning two golden globes. Attenborough though is another prolific actor whose efforts deserve to be noticed here, particularly his performance here that came early in his career. Of course it would be difficult for an actor to be noticed for this role, even though to be fair Ronald Colman murdered someone in A Double Life, but I suppose at least he did it by going completely insane. Attenborough's portrayal of Pinkie though is cold blooded from the start.
Attenborough creates a terrific portrait of this very young criminal in charge of a gang of men. When we first see him Pinkie actually is not the one standing ready to order the others around as their leader as they go to search for someone they have very ill intents for. In fact he is sitting in a bed, but his very first glimpse is unforgettable nevertheless. Attenborough makes it clear from the very beginning of the film who will be in charge of the story, making it obvious from the start that Pinkie always will do things his way. When he and his gang for approach the man they have targeted, Pinkie is in the corner almost looking away, yet Attenborough is easily the most magnetic presence in the scene.
Attenborough does something amazing in his portrayal of Pinkie which is both bringing the life the thug completely to life, but still enabling his character to be truly charismatic. As the thug Attenborough does not make a single excuse for his character, nor does he try ever to hide just who Pinkie is. In his eyes there is nothing but a psychotic. Some killers in film show that a man can be normal but can be brought about to violence, but Attenborough shows a man who seems to be constantly having to hold back his hidden murderous feelings. There is nothing good about Pinkie, Attenborough does not want the slightest bit of sympathy from the audience.
The amazing part though is Attenborough is absolutely watchable in the role, and as distasteful as his character is the charisma Attenborough has in the role voids this. As horrendous of a man as Pinkie is Attenborough has a presence here that absolutely controls the screen. You can't help but watch Attenborough here no matter how horrible of things that Pinkie does along the way. He has an incredible sway in his performance where he even makes it entirely convincing when he even tells someone to commit suicide for him. Obviously this is an unlikely thing to do, but Attenborough has such allure in the role it seem entirely possible.
An important aspect of the character of Pinkie is that he is a completely selfish character, but he asks almost everyone around him to do something for him. This is the most true in that Pinkie goes about seducing a young waitress Rose who has information that can send him to jail. I actually think that in this relationship might be a time in which many actors would try to make Pinkie likable in some way or hint that there may be more to him. Attenborough though never strives away from the truth of the character which is he is the lowest of the low any love he shows for her is just to get his end nothing else. Attenborough makes the center relationship painfully truthful in that behind any sentiment of love Pinkie might show to the girl, there is always disgust behind it.
As a villain Attenborough makes Pinkie coldly efficient as a killer. Attenborough though shows that all Pinkie is a psychopath he really does not ever push the idea that Pinkie is enjoying the killing, nor does he show that Pinkie is disliking it either. Rather Attenborough chillingly shows that it is simply just that is what Pinkie is doing simple as that, in the same way he would be doing anything else. There is no hesitation in Attenborough's performance even though both he and Pinkie are very young men. Attenborough most of the time does not factor in his age except for when something does not go according to plan for Pinkie.
These moments are made especially powerful by Attenborough because he really shows the true nature of Pinkie. The youth of Pinkie does appear along with the inexperience. Every time something goes terribly wrong for him Attenborough portrays it as utter surprise in Pinkie's mind, showing that Pinkie always believed he was on top of everything. When he really gets into trouble due to a failed plan Attenborough brings out just what a pathetic sort Pinkie is. The show of confidence and strength of before leave and Attenborough brings him into nothing more that a lowly brat who has gotten in over his head. This is absolutely compelling work from Attenborough that makes Pinkie into a very memorable creation because he never once cheats his own character portraying him that exact way he should be to the bitter end.