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Tiger Bay
cast: John Mills, Horst Buchholz, Hayley Mills, Yvonne Mitchell, and Anthony Dawson

director: J. Lee Thompson

95 minutes (PG) 1958 widescreen ratio 16:9
Carlton DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Barry Forshaw
In an anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer as impressive as this, it's a pleasure to be reminded what solid piece of work J. Lee Thompson's Cardiff-set thriller was - and is. The director's inspired use of his port town locations has all the intelligence of his later American work, such as Cape Fear (far superior to the Martin Scorsese remake).
   The tale of a tomboyish young girl's pursuit by - and subsequent friendship with - a young sailor forced into manslaughter wears remarkably well, although the film's total avoidance of any paedophile associations (which will spring to a modern viewer's mind in most of the situations where the young girl is threatened) either bespeaks a more innocent age - or a realisation by Thompson that this is a story about trust and loyalty, not sexuality. While Horst Bucholz's desperate young Pole (guilty of the manslaughter of the bitter ex-mistress who has humiliated him) is constantly alone with latchkey kid Gilly in threatening situations, her most pressing danger is presented as one of murder rather than rape; it's self-evident that any remake of the film would have to take our more jaundiced modern sensibilities on board.
   Of course, Tiger Bay is best remembered for its star-making debut turn by the very young Hayley Mills. Her performance has a still-astonishing naturalness, but the support from a sensitive Buchholz, and John Mills as the pursuing copper, is impeccable. As an aside, it's interesting to note how much more convincing is Hayley Mills' transformation of her Home Counties vowels into Cockney glottal stops than she ever was at assuming an America accent in her career for Walt Disney.
   The minimal disc extras include a hilariously dated three-minute location report (which is nevertheless diverting) and a trailer.

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