At the end of the fifties, director J. Lee Thompson wanted to make an offbeat crime film showing the tender relationship between a young killer and a little boy who witnesses his crime. He found himself in the garden of John and Mary Mills one day and watched their 12-year-old daughter at play. Thompson observed what international audiences would soon discover to their delight: that young Hayley Mills had a riveting, elastic face and that you never wanted to take your eyes off her for fear that you'd miss what she might do next. Thompson assembled the usual sterling British cast along with a young German discovery, Horst Buchholz. The resulting film, "Tiger Bay", was well-scripted and briskly-paced, but as anticipated, Hayley Mills as the mischievous Gillie stole every scene she was in, even the ones she played with the police inspector portrayed by her father John.
Watching "Tiger Bay" many years later, it is easy to see why Hayley Mills became a major star with this film. To be sure, the plot revolves around her, and later when she found herself upstaged by special effects, animals and nuns, her popularity plummeted. As Hayley Mills became more of an actress, she tailored her work to meet the demands of each part and her strong personality became less evident. Parts like Gillie clearly come along once in a lifetime and Hayley Mills, soon to inherit the Little Miss Fixit roles that were once de rigueur for child stars, clearly made the most of her appealing role.
© 2002 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 9/4/02
UK - 1959