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Dance with a Stranger Movie Review

ellis blakely time film

Dance with a Stranger made Miranda Richardson a star and ignited the career of director Mike Newell. Released midway through the Thatcher years (1979–91), the film was typical of its era in that it cast a harsh gaze on the early 1950s, while clearly reveling in their ambiance. Ruth Ellis (Richardson) is the tough-as-nails (translation: walking wounded) manageress of a bar. From the instant that race car driver David Blakely (kinky Rupert Everett) orders a gin and tonic, Ellis is hooked, although she does her best to feign indifference. In fact, at many points during their two-year (1953–55) affair, either Ellis or Blakely was heartily fed up with the other, although never at the same time. Ellis recognizes that they are out of each other's league and although Blakely denies it, he knows it, too. Complicating the situation is Ruth's sad-eyed little boy Andy (Matthew Carroll, in a heart-wringing performance), and Desmond Cussen (Ian Holm, in an on-target piece of work), who's obsessed with Ellis all the time, not just sporadically like Blakely. That cast of characters is just about all that anyone could ask for in a mad love story—only this story is true, brilliantly adapted by Shelagh (A Taste of Honey) Delaney, who was all of 16 when Cussen drove the love-crazed Ellis to the scene of the crime where she gunned down Blakely on Easter Sunday, 1955. Joanne Whalley is a bar girl named Christine. Historical Note: What Dance with a Stranger doesn't tell us is that Ellis (1926–55, and the last woman hanged in Great Britain) killed Blakely (1929–55) just before a newspaper strike. If the presses had been rolling at full speed, would Ellis’ life have been spared? In France, the killing was widely regarded as a crime of passion, and hardly a candidate for the death penalty. Although 50,000 signatures were finally collected on one petition protesting her execution, Ellis was hanged with unseemly haste, less than 95 days after Blakely's death, and nowhere near enough time to launch an effective campaign to save her life, especially during the most crucial early days of the newspaper strike.

1985 (R) 101m/C GB Miranda Richardson, Rupert Everett, Ian Holm, Joanne Whalley, Matthew Carroll, Tom Chadbon, Jane Bertish, David Trughton, Paul Mooney, Stratford Johns, Susan Kyd, Leslie Manville, Sallie-Anne Field, Martin Murphy, Michael Jenn, Daniel Massey; D: Mike Newell; W: Shelagh Delaney; C: Peter Hannan; M: Richard Hartley. Cannes Film Festival ‘85: Best Film. VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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