The Boy and the Bridge

The Boy and the Bridge is a 1959 British drama film produced and directed by Kevin McClory. It featured Ian Maclaine, Liam Redmond, James Hayter, Geoffrey Keen, and Arthur Lowe. The film was shot during the summer of 1958 and set around London's Tower Bridge from which the film takes its name.

The Boy and the Bridge
Directed byKevin McClory
Produced byDavid Eady
Kevin McClory
Screenplay byKevin McClory
Geoffrey Orme
Desmond O'Donovan
Story byLeon Ware
StarringIan Maclaine
Liam Redmond
James Hayter
Music byMalcolm Arnold
CinematographyEdward Scaife
Edited byJack Slade
Xanadu Productions
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • 28 July 1959 (1959-07-28) (United Kingdom)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


Believing his widowed father, Pat Doyle (Liam Redmond) to have killed a man and that the police, having arrested him, will soon come to put him in a children’s home, Tommy Doyle (Ian MacLaine), a little cockney boy, runs away from his Bermondsey lodgings and seeks sanctuary within the confines of his dream castle, Tower Bridge. He makes his home in a room at the top of the north tower, coming and going without being seen and, bit by bit, furnishing it with all the ingenuity of a nine year old boy. Here, he makes one friend, a seagull he names Sammy. To the boy, the bridge is a living character with a personality of its own and the catwalks, staircases, engine rooms and bascule chambers are a magic world in which he is king. Although he takes care not to be seen, the maintenance staff become aware of a strange “presence” and their fears are confirmed when one night, Tommy saves the life of a suicidal woman who is about to jump off the bridge into the river. "DON'T", he yells down to her, "DON'T JUMP OFF MY BRIDGE!" The woman is so startled by this voice from somewhere up there, that she changes her mind, believing the voice to be of a supernatural origin. The next day, the newspapers follow up with the story that a protective spirit presides over the bridge. Searching ceaselessly for his son, his father is suddenly confronted by Tommy on the bridge. Following the boy to the top of the tower, he realises that the building has become father, mother and home to the boy, all the things that he should have been. He explains to Tommy that the bridge was built to bring people together and has brought them together too and, as Sammy flies away to join his own kind, Tommy agrees to come home.


Ian MaclaineEdit

Hailed at the time as a new child star – John Huston declared him the greatest find since Jackie Coogan – Ian Maclaine's real name was Ian McLenahan and he was born in Brighton, Sussex, in the summer of 1949 and was the son of an aircraft worker at De Haviland’s Hatfield plant in Hertfordshire. When he was nine years old in the summer of 1958 and a pupil at the William Patten Primary School in Stoke Newington, London, he won the part of Tommy Doyle after an exhaustive search which saw the production team interview some 3,000 local boys. He had a brother, Keith, who was two years older than him and who had a small part in the film as a boy Tommy’s father momentarily mistakes for Tommy while he is out looking for him at night. "The Boy and The Bridge" was given a royal premiere at the Curzon cinema, London, on Wednesday, July 22, 1959, where Ian was presented to HRH Princess Margaret and it was shown at the Venice Film Festival that year. At the festival, Kevin McClory was nominated as Best Director for the film. Ian Maclaine also attended the festival and was presented to the top film stars of the day. Ian was married to Cutina Drake in Southend-on-Sea in Essex at the age of 26 in 1975 and had two sons, Stuart, born in September 1976, and Alastair, born in November 1978 – both born in Southend-on-Sea.

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