Little Hayley Mills is a trendsetter. I used to rock that mop style haircut in the 70’s and here she is parading around the streets of Cardiff in 1959! I must of been so outta fashion. I guess I have my Mum to blame for that? Stick a bowl on my head and cut around it.
It’s quite the testament to her young talents that a twelve year Hayley Mills really carries this film in her debut major film role. She plays the tomboy little rascal Gillie Evans. A headstrong almost street urchin, who has a flair for telling porky pies, lies. She’s a machine, each and every time she’s cornered, her knack for quick fire on the spot stories is second to none. Soon she will meet a young Polish sailor and become embroiled in a manhunt police investigation.
The happy smiling, all chiseled cheeked Polish merchant seaman Bronislav Korchinsky (Horst Buchholz) has just arrived back in Cardiff. He’s been at sea for many months and he’s eager to see his sweet love, Anya (Yvonne Mitchell). She wasn’t at the docks to meet him! He’d surprise her back that their flat. The surprise is on him, well and a stranger. My eyes nearly popped out as the “intruder” is caught in her curvaceous super tight black undies. This gorgeous woman named Christine (Shari) is living in his apartment? It’s not long before it’s revealed his Anya has moved out. Bronislav is at his wits end. Where has she gone? He’s been sending his merchant wages to her to pay for the rent. What could of happened? I’d be happy to just move in with Christine, if she’d have this here hairy wolf?
Our Polish sailor does some fine detective work, discovering Anya had been evicted and now shacked up in a new apartment a few blocks away. With a chance encounter with a sausage dropping cowboy wannabe, Bronislav bumps into Gillie who lives in the same block of flats. Ever the nosy inquisitive young girl our Gillie can’t help herself listening to conversations and spying through letterboxes. To her shock, this leads to more than she could imagine but she does receive the perfect cowboy accessory for her troubles.
Tagline – A Spellbinder that beats with the pounding suspense of Manhunt!
With the turn of events leading to a police investigation lead by Superintendent Graham (John Mills). Gillie’s gone rogue, disappearing and Bronislav desperately needs to get back on a merchant ship. Can Superintendent Graham decipher all the pieces of this strange mystery? And if he ever gets to chat to Gillie? Will he get any sense or truth out of her? What did she see? You’ll need to tune into this first-rate realistic British drama to find out.
A few things.
- Director J. Lee Thompson would go on to make that tense thriller Cape Fear with Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum a few years later. Also the classic war movies Ice Cold In Alex and The Guns of Navarone. He would later finish up the last two 70’s editions of the Planet Of The Apes series before moving on to team up with that action man Charles Bronson, with St Ives, The White Buffalo and 10 To Midnight along with at least five others.
- As soon as I saw it I had to know about the “bridge”. The moving tiny stretch of road with a house on it! The crazy thing is still running today. Here’s a wonderful little two minute report on it. The Newport Transporter Bridge.
- Dame Shirley Bassey the lady with the golden lungs on many a James Bond film is a famous native resident of Cardiff’s Tiger Bay area.
- Tiger Bay is on Youtube at time of writing to stream here.
- Yes I looked but to the best of my knowledge this was Shari’s only credited acting role and I can’t find any other information about her. Who ever did the film poster stuck her as the main event even if she’s not really in the film that much. So here’s another photo.
Tiger Bay starts as a love story but soon turns into a crime drama. Like I say above it’s incredible to see such a young Hayley Mills carry this film. She really is the centerpiece of this story. Even with scenes acting alongside her Dad she still keeps up a fantastic performance and you can see why she followed in her pops great acting footsteps.
One thing that shone out on this wonderful film is the way it portrayed this Welsh city. It’s wasn’t afraid to the show a more beautiful look at the melting pot of people from all over world who made up this area of Cardiff.
The large African Caribbean community alongside the vast amount of Polish and other worldwide immigrants, all living together in this rundown poorer part of the city. Black and white families all living side by side. Children of all races, whizzing down slides, back and forth on swings and spinning around on roundabouts. Whilst pre-teens chase each other blasting cap guns and playing tag. There is no judgement or prejudice shown through this film and it’s very refreshing to see.
If you haven’t seen it, I very much recommended you give it a go or if you have seen it, I’m sure you want to let me know what you thought.
I’ve been off the reservation recently due to family stuff but hope to be back in the flow of it properly soon. Keep watching the squares. All the best.. Mikey Wolf