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Image of location Regency Cafe

Regency Cafe in Brighton Rock

Date posted: 01.02.2011

Adapted from Graham Greene's iconic 1939 novel, Brighton Rock embraces the classic elements of film noir and the British gangster film to tell the story of Pinkie, a desperate youth who is hell bent on clawing his way up through the ranks of organized crime. When a young and very innocent waitress, Rose, stumbles on evidence linking him to a revenge killing, he sets out to seduce her to secure her silence. The film stars up-and-coming British actors Sam Riley (Control, On the Road) as Pinkie and Andrea Riseborough (Made in Dagenham and Never Let Me Go) as Rose. Helen Mirren and John Hurt co-star as friends who set out to save Rose from Pinkie's deviant designs.

In his debut feature as director, screenwriter Rowan Joffe (The American, Last Resort) updated the action to 1964 - the year the Mods and the Rockers were rioting across the South Coast. Several locations in London were used to double for sixties Brighton, including Pimlico's classic greasy spoon, The Regency Café.

Established in 1946, the striking black tiled Art Deco exterior and logo of the café fits perfectly with the 60s style recreated in Brighton Rock. "[The café] needed to be of an earlier period to when the film was set but still feel relevant to Pinkie and Rose's Brighton", said location manager Jason Wheeler. The shape, style and position of the café on the corner of the street is also reminiscent of Edward Hopper's famous painting Nighthawks (1942), which has been credited with being a key influence on the look of film noir and therefore an important reference point for the film's production team.

As the Regency Café was to be the location for a few key scenes for Pinkie and Rose, it had to be able to convey a number of things and be functional as a film set. Wheeler explains: "It should be a place where you'd get an eclectic mix of characters coming and going, from locals, bikers and builders to cab drivers, policemen and even the 'dealer' - all walks of life. It needed space to fit all those character in, as well as a film crew!"

The café also needed to be somewhere in which Pinkie and Rose could almost disappear, but also still maintain a level of danger of being seen or caught by his various enemies. In this sense the relationship between interior and exterior was very important, with the café's large corner windows affording the ability to see characters passing by or approaching from outside. This included the bikers and their rows of parked bikes, an important image throughout the film.

The café is surrounded by striking thirties architecture, although some additional shop front facades had to be erected in order to complete the look of the era. Wheeler commended the support and co-operation of the Westminster Special Events team, the police and local residents in securing essential road closures and street dressing to give the production the setting they required.

 "The mood of a seaside cafe in the swinging sixties was imagined perfectly and swiftly", Regency's owner Claudia Perotti said. "The crew were brilliant to work with, being both professional and respectful of my business and yet great fun on the shoot. It's always an exciting experience to see how various film projects will both transform and utilise The Regency Café, and Brighton Rock was no exception."

The Regency Café is popular with film crews. A variety of productions have utilised its iconic look in the last ten years, including 2004's Layer Cake with Daniel Craig and the BBC dramas Judge John Deed, Rescue Me and Warriors.

Brighton Rock is distributed by Optimum Releasing in the UK and opens nationwide on 4 February 2011.

For filming enquiries at Regency Café contact the owner, Claudia Perotti, on claudiaperotti@yahoo.com or 020 7821 6596.

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