Directed by Gordon Parry with a script by George Minter, Tread Softly Stranger (1958) was adapted from a stage play called Blind Alley by Jack Popplewell. It features some big names from the period including George Baker, who I remember seeing in The Moonraker (1958) when I was wee lad but who most people will know as Inspector Wexford from the TV series The Ruth Rendell Mysteries that run from 1987 until 2000, the wonderful Diana Dors who appeared in over sixty feature films, admittedly of various quality the best said to be The Weak and the Wicked (1954), A Kid for Two Farthings (1954) and Yield to the Night (1956) and to these I would respectfully add West 11 (1963). Also appearing are talented actor Terence Morgan and the instantly recognisable Patrick Allen.
When good time guy Johnny Mansell (Baker) has to leave London because he owes the wrong people large sum’s of money for his gambling debts he decides to return up north to his roots in the Yorkshire town of Rawborough. It’s here that he joins his brother Dave (Morgan), securing a room in the same rented accommodation. Johnny also meets Dave’s voluptuous and rather unscrupulous girlfriend Calico (Dors) who works as waitress in a local nightclub. Dave struggles to keep his high maintenance girlfriend in expensive gifts and finds himself forced to embezzle £300 from his employer, he then finds out that an audit is to take place and realises that if he does not return the money pronto he could end up in prison. Johnny goes to Kempton Park in an attempt to win some cash to enable his brother to pay back the money before anyone discovers its missing. Will Johnny’s plan work or might they have to resort to other means to repay back the debt?
Described as a smouldering British crime drama this black and white noir style film is set in the industrialised North of England with location shooting taking place in Rotherham, Yorkshire. Bordering on the imminent British New Wave with it gritty industrialised setting which adds to its authentic feel only spoilt by its lack of local accents. Reassessed, this forgotten movie is well worth its DVD release as part of The Best of British Collection by Odeon Entertainment.
The film was put together at the Walton Studios, Walton on Thames England that in 1903 was the first covered studio in Britain. The studios were closed and demolished in 1961. Incidentally in its final days various costume TV drama’s where made there including 143 episodes of The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene.