on 5 March 2008
Polish sailor Bronislav (Bronik), played by Horst Bucholz, has been looking forward to seeing his sweetheart in Cardiff's Tiger Bay dock area (the home place of Shirley Bassey, the British partly West Indian-origined singer). That young woman is living "loosely" and is not interested in making a life and home with the young seaman. An argument ensues and she is shot, the weapon being a revolver given to her by another lover...
The killing is seen by young Hayley Mills, a girl of ? maybe 11 (in reality, 13), who puts in a superb performance. John Mills plays the relentless detective for whom catching the criminal is all that matters. The young (20 or so) seaman and the younger girl form an attachment which is somewhere between friendship and romance but without a sexual element, perhaps a brother-sister relationship is the nearest one can get to characterizing it. She helps him to escape the police and joins him in the country, only to be caught when her photo appears in the newspaper. She then refuses to give the police evidence against him, though Mills senior tries every trick to try to trip up the little confabulator!
In the end, the young Pole has to decide whether to sacrifice himself for the girl. In the end, he even slightly warms the heart of his bloodhound-like pursuer and earns a grudging respect.
In a sense the Pole and the girl have something in common: he is floating around the world, no home, no settled life etc, she is living with an aunt and all but running wild. They both seek permanency, a home.
The film is good in itself, but is also a significant socio-historical document. Tiger Bay was, in 1959, one of the few areas of the UK which had any West Indian (or other black) population, alongside the poorest Welsh indigenous inhabitants and others. The poverty and indeed squalor of the area is well displayed and the acting of all without flaw.
on 3 July 2013
The product description for this release says 1.85:1. The DVD sleeve says 16x9. It isn't, this is another of those cheap TV transfers that have no place in the age of large screen HDTVs. The opening credits are in letterboxed 1.75:1(the correct ratio for this film), but the feature then zooms up to fill the height of the screen, chopping the sides off to leave a 4x3 image. So the info above the product desciption has it right.
For a movie that starts with a murder fueled by rage and ends with a dangerous decision to be made in rough seas, Tiger Bay is one of the most touching and endearing studies of childhood and friendship you could hope to see. Please note that elements of the plot are discussed.
When a young Polish seaman named Korchinsky (Horst Buchholz) returns to his home port in Wales after a long spell at sea, he is the happiest man alive. He has some money in his pocket and a good-looking girlfriend. He can hardly wait to arrive at her apartment flat, which he has been paying the rent on. But he meets someone else living there. When he finally locates his girl, he finds she's been seeing someone else, a man she thinks has "class." It's the old story. She begins screaming at him. He loses his temper and screams back. She pulls a gun from a dresser drawer and orders him out of her apartment and out of her life. In a mater of seconds he's wrestled the gun away from her and she's lying dead on the floor of multiple bullet wounds. And while this has been going on, ten-year-old Gillie (Hayley Mills) has been crouched down and staring at what she could see through the mail slot in the door. Gillie is bright and quick. She lives with her aunt down the hall. She's good at making up stories, not lies, exactly, but close enough. Her friends won't play cops and robbers with her because she doesn't have a toy gun. She loves to imagine adventures. Korchinsky hears the police arriving. He hides the gun and then hides himself. As soon as he disappears, Gillie nips in and takes the gun from where she saw Korchinsky hide it. But now Korchinsky spots her.
For the rest of the movie we follow Gillie as she avoids Korchinsky, as she shows off the gun to a friend during choir, and as Detective Superintendent Graham (John Mills) questions Gillie and the neighbors to try to make sense of the murder. It doesn't take long for Korchinsky to abduct Gillie with a tale of escaping on an adventure to another country. He knows she is the only one who can identify him. Gillie, her head full of excitement, is no dummy, but she longs for what she imagines. Korchinsky, in fact, turns out to be a young man over his head, almost as young in some ways as Gillie. He begins to see Gillie as the same kind of uncomplicated dreamer in some ways he is. While he convinces Gillie not to give him away, he leaves her for a few hours so he can sign on to a ship soon to sail for Caracas. When Gillie is found alone and waiting for Korchinsky to return, Superintendent Graham must try to convince Gillie that Korchinsky is dangerous and that she must corporate to capture him. Gillie, despite the best efforts of Graham, will not betray her friend. The cat and mouse struggle between Graham and Gillie is one of the most amusing situations in the movie.
The climax is on the freighter bound for Caracas just outside the three mile zone off the coast of Wales. The inspector has arrived on a pilot boat with Gillie to identify Korchinsky. He is determined to bring Korchinsky in. Just when it looks like Korchinsky will be safe, Gillie falls overboard in the high seas. The only one who sees her fall is Korchinsky. If he lets her die unseen, he will remain on the ship and be safe as it heads away from Britain. If he dives in to try to save Gillie, he will be picked up by the pilot boat, even if he saves her, and returned to Wales, sooner or later to be tried for murder. It's his choice and he has only seconds to decide.
This was Hayley Mills first movie. She was 13 and she is extraordinary. Buchholz and Mills (her father) do fine jobs, but the movie fails or succeeds on whether or not the person of Gillie captures us. We not only have to identify with Gillie, we have to believe in her. Mills makes Gillie a person we root for, a person we understand why she won't turn in her friend even after she realizes he won't be taking her anywhere. Mills does all this with straightforward and unaffected charm, and without a speck of sentimentality.
But nothing is perfect in this world, and Tiger Bay is cursed with one of the most awful screen scores I've ever heard. It's not only loud, it's cloyingly sentimental with tons of lush strings. Worse, it punctuates every tense scene with cliche-ridden horn stings and drum beats. The score does a disservice to the movie. The DVD transfer is first rate. The movie is in black and white, and the docks and Gillie's gritty working class neighborhood look just as tough as they probably were. With the exception of the score, the movie is the work of skilled craftsmen who knew how tell a story. Be sure to get the ITV DVD release which features a commentary by Hayley Mills.
on 25 September 2011
Youthful German actor Horst Buchholz is a sailor home from the sea and blissfully navigating for disaster. John Mills' daughter, Hayley, plays tomboy `Gillie' in her debut acting role.
The young sailor's girlfriend has been stringing him along and at the crux of a furious row he shoots her to death. Snooping Gillie sees it all. As events play out, a relationship develops between they two. He's her first infatuation. She's the only witness to a crime that could send him to the gallows. She takes his side. The detective on the case is played by dad, John. The sailor's ship will sail soon. The cops have nothing upon which to detain him except Gillie's unspoken testimony. Sounds simple enough.
I had forgotten just how good this movie was until I got the DVD from Amazon a few months back. Hayley's portrayal of a kid with attitude is an absolute tour-de-force. Vocal intonation and facial expression are right on the money. She is the best of the cast. But handsome Buchholz is also thoroughly convincing as a very young man way out of his depth. He is stricken with shame and misery at what he has done whilst in terror of the consequences.
This tensely developing crime drama and complex of motives that underlie the relationship between sailor and child are set against a truly authentic backdrop of working-class life on the cusp of the 1960's. It's well worth watching for that reason alone. But I also love the way childhood is presented with a candour and frankness that's sensitive without being sentimental. Spielberg should make a study of it. Although story centres upon a minor, it's still an adult movie. It hasn't been dumbed-down for kids. And they will love it all the more for such integrity. Just look at the way John knocks his daughter around!
Characters, relationships and plot development are perfectly paced. Photography and lighting is imaginative, with even a few noirish moments. Editing is all you could wish. It's a 1950's movie so criminals must get caught. But it'll keep you guessing right up to the bittersweet conclusion.
I love this work. It's like an amalgam of all the best elements from `Pool of London' and `Leon'. Honest-to-goodness story-telling.
Amazon's supplied DVD was tiptop. Very highly recommended movie for all ages. Oh - don't be fooled by the artwork; this is filmed in black & white. There's several interesting extras too.
on 3 May 2015
Hayley Mills first movie playing a tomboy who witnesses a murder but be freinds him
The murderer is quite a decent sort,a normal guy who has been pushed too far so we the audience have sympathy towards him
The police lead by stalwart John Mills are on the case,lots of familiar faces in it,being the 1950s the film is quite moral,however it's a good watch
The extra commentary by Haley Mills is interesting to listen to,a good nostalgic dvd,would love to se it colorized
Tiger Bay is directed by J. Lee Thompson and written by John Hawkesworth and Shelley Smith. It stars Horst Buchholz, Hayley Mills, John Mills, Megs Jenkins and Anthony Dawson. Music is by Laurie Johnson and cinematography by Eric Cross.
A young girl witnesses a murder and complicates the investigation by becoming attached to the killer.
The Lord's My Shepherd.
Set in the Principality of Cardiff, South Wales, Tiger Bay is a boffo noir drama in the tradition of the excellent Charles Crichton/Dirk Bogarde picture, Hunted (1952). The core of the story is about the friendship that forms between a murderer and the child that saw him do it. There is nothing remotely risqué in this friendship, it's tender and pertinent given the absence of parents and kin in Gillie's (H. Mills) life (she lives with her Auntie played by Jenkins). Korchinsky (Buchholz) is not a madman psychopath, his crime was a moment of madness, a crime of passion, and he is very likable and therefore it's believable that young Gillie would take him for surrogate kinship.
If you want to be happy and live a king's life, never make a pretty woman your wife.
The drama comes from the investigation led by Superintendent Graham (J. Mills), who has to stay on top of things whilst being spun lots of yarns by the precocious Gillie. Things are further spiced up by the presence of another suspect played by Dawson, who is all jittery and suspicious, this is a very good splinter in the narrative, ensuring that the pic never relies on being just about a special/odd friendship. The writers also provide much intelligence as regards the era, with nods to sexual politics, the changing of attitudes with children, while there's a multi cultural background to the play. Pat on the back is deserved as well for incorporating a thread about the opposing laws of maritime and those of the land.
Yes, I have, and a very brave man.
The aged dockside locales keep things earthy, as does the run down and cramped housing arrangements, these allow Thompson & Cross to cover it with noirish tints, the dockside scenes (and the church interiors) are all shadows and shimmers, it really is gorgeous work, the black and white compositions perfectly lit. Cast are superb, has Buchholz - away from the iconography of The Magnificent Seven - ever been better than he is here? J. Mills is class, but then he almost always was, Dawson is quality old boy, but it's young Hayley's movie, a stupendous performance from one so young, it's easy to see why she would carve out a considerable career in acting.
A little irk exists about the complete lack of any scene showing Gillie's Auntie being worried that her charge has gone missing, especially since there has been a murder in the block, but it's a small itch to scratch. Tiger Bay, smart, pretty and dramatic. 9/10
on 2 November 2010
These are two great 60s films in one package, they were also very cheap. Tiger Bay is a story of a child (Hayley Mills) who witnesses a Polish sailor shooting and killing his girlfriend, she befriends him, runs away with him when he goes on the run and in the end tries to prevent him being arrested by her real life father(John Mills) who plays a police officer, its heartwarming, well acted and very nostalgic. Whistle down the Wind, Hayley Mills again, living in the wilds of the Lancashire moors on a farm with her two younger siblings, they find an escaped convict in their barn and think he's Jesus, they try to keep it a secret but soon all the village children get to know about the visitor, the young lad who plays Mills brother Charles is hilarious in this, its well acted, heartwarming and quite sad, but also very funny, the young lad certainly makes this film, Alan Bates is the convict, hes great in it too. For anyone who likes 60s black and white pure nostalgia, these two films are a must, the type to curl up with on a wet saturday afternoon.
on 22 June 2014
Hayley Mills, as the complexly mischievous ten year old Gillie, witnesses a murder, then leads the investigating detective, played by John Mills, a merry dance across South Wales to avoid telling him the truth. A joy to watch, as the two spar.
on 9 March 2012
I recall this film from when it was first in the cinemas. Remembered with pleasure we wanted to see it again, and bought the DVD. It has lost none of its impact -- even when one 'knows what's coming'.
It is staggering how Hayley manages to act in conjunction with her father. One is forced to wonder how much of a little devil she was in real life.
A damn good film -- a classic!
on 24 October 2012
Tiger Bay [DVD] Although I'm the same age as Hayley Mills, I never saw this movie until I was middle aged and it was a revelation. Forget the cutie-pie roles like Pollyanna which she played as a teenager; here she's a troubled, restless child with no real friends and little by the way of constructive adult guidance, living in a run-down, multi-racial, inner-city area. The local kids won't let her play cowboys and Indians with them because she hasn't got a toy gun, so when she witnesses a Polish sailor shooting his girlfriend dead and hiding the weapon, she steals it to increase her street cred. The sailor corners her and although she's scared, she soon realises that so is he. A touching friendship between two outcast, lonely souls develops, with her lying to the police to help him escape. Horst Buchholz is good in his first English-speaking part, just a couple of years before his role in The Magnificent Seven, but the real treat is the cat-and-mouse game between the child and the detective investigating the case, played by Hayley Mills' father John. Hayley was an actress who could speak volumes with her eyes, so we can see all the calculations the child is making as she mixes fact and fiction to spin a convincing yarn to the police officer and pin the murder on the victim's other boyfriend.
Also a little gem is the scene where we see her in church, an angelic-looking choirgirl singing sacred music beautifully, whilst showing her gun off to a boy and doing a trade with him for one of the bullets. I think it was a stroke of good luck that she got a part originally written for a boy; perhaps this allowed a certain amount of outside-the-box thinking about the character and the temptation to make her just a lovable tomboy was avoided.
The film left me wondering why, given her obvious talent, she wasn't given more challenging stuff to do later. Whistle Down the Wind was an excellent film but once she got to Hollywood and achieved stardom, she acquired an image which had to be protected and it seemed that so far as the moguls at Disney were concerned, box-office receipts were more important than her development as an actress. Her Pollyanna image may have been a gold mine in the short term, but as she grew into a woman it was difficult to escape from, despite her best efforts. When I think of Saoirse Ronan, who sprang to fame at a similar age in Atonement, I wonder how Hayley Mills would have turned out if she had been given the opportunity to play the range of roles which Ms Ronan has.
The dvd extras include an interesting, present-day commentary by Hayley Mills. The Cardiff docklands community featured in the film has all but been destroyed by redevelopment but she mentions Neil Sinclair, one of the local kids with a small part in the film, who has written a couple of books on the history of the area. It's worth looking up his guided tours on YouTube.