Dance with a Stranger
Dance with a Stranger is a 1985 British tragedy film directed by Mike Newell. Telling the story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain (1955), the film won critical acclaim, and aided the careers of two of its leading actors, Miranda Richardson and Rupert Everett. The screenplay was by Shelagh Delaney, author of A Taste of Honey, and was her third major screenplay. The story of Ellis, which this film dramatises, has resonance in Britain since it provided part of the background to the extended national debates which led to the progressive abolition of capital punishment from 1965 on.
|Dance with a Stranger|
|Directed by||Mike Newell|
|Produced by||Roger Randall-Cutler|
|Written by||Shelagh Delaney|
|Music by||Richard Hartley|
theme song by Mari Wilson
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|1 March 1985 (UK)|
|Budget||£1,360,000 or £1.5 million|
|Box office||£850,000 (UK)|
$3 million (US)
$1 million (other territories)
The theme song "Would You Dance with a Stranger" was performed by Mari Wilson and was released as a single.
A former nude model and prostitute, Ruth is manageress of a London drinking club frequented by racing drivers and lives in a flat above with her illegitimate son, Andy. Another child is in the custody of her estranged husband's family.
In the club she meets David, an immature young man from a well-off family who wants to succeed in motor racing but suffers from lack of money and overuse of alcohol. Ruth falls for his looks and charm, but it is a doomed relationship: without a job, he cannot afford to marry her and his family would never accept her. When he makes a drunken scene in the club, she is discharged from her job, which also means that she is made homeless.
Desmond, a wealthy admirer, secures a flat for her and her son but she still sees David. When she tells him she is pregnant, he does nothing about it and she miscarries. Distraught, she goes to a house in Hampstead where she believes David is at a party. He comes out and goes with a girl to a pub. Ruth waits outside the pub and, when he emerges, shoots him dead with four shots. She is arrested, tried and hanged.
- Miranda Richardson as Ruth Ellis
- Rupert Everett as David Blakely
- Ian Holm as Desmond Cussen
- Stratford Johns as Morrie Conley
- Joanne Whalley as Christine
- Tom Chadbon as Anthony Findlater
- Jane Bertish as Carole Findlater
- David Troughton as Cliff Davis
- Tracy Louise Ward as Girl with Blakeley
- Matthew Carroll as Andy
- Lesley Manville as Maryanne
- David Beale as Man in Little Club
- Charon Bourke as Ballroom Singer
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 91%, based on reviews from 11 critics.
Mike Newell won Award of the Youth at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival for Dance with a Stranger. Miranda Richardson won Best Actress at the Evening Standard British Film Awards, and Ian Holm won Boston Society of Film Critics Awards 1985 for this and other performances.
- Borne, Nigel. "Little film little profit." Sunday Times [London, England] 26 January 1986: 31. The Sunday Times Digital Archive. Web. 29 March 2014.
- "Back to the Future: The Fall and Rise of the British Film Industry in the 1980s - An Information Briefing" (PDF). British Film Institute. 2005. p. 21.
- Dobson, Michael (30 November 2006). Performing Shakespeare's Tragedies Today: The Actor's Perspective. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521671224.
- Eberts, Jake; Illott, Terry (1990). My indecision is final. Faber and Faber. p. 656.
- "Dance with a Stranger". Rotten Tomatoes. 1 January 1985. Retrieved 11 June 2020.