6.8/10
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24 user 18 critic

Dance with a Stranger (1985)

A stormy relationship, complicated by the strictures of 1950s social class and gender roles, ends in death. Based on the life of Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in Britain.

Director:

Mike Newell

Writer:

Shelagh Delaney
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3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Miranda Richardson ... Ruth Ellis
Rupert Everett ... David Blakeley
Ian Holm ... Desmond Cussen
Matthew Carroll Matthew Carroll ... Andy
Tom Chadbon ... Anthony Findlater
Jane Bertish Jane Bertish ... Carole Findlater
David Troughton ... Cliff Davis
Paul Mooney Paul Mooney ... Clive Gunnell
Stratford Johns ... Morrie Conley
Joanne Whalley ... Christine
Susan Kyd Susan Kyd ... Barbara
Lesley Manville ... Maryanne
Sallie Anne Field Sallie Anne Field ... Claudette (as Sallie-Anne Field)
David Beale David Beale ... Man in Little Club
Tracy-Louise Ward Tracy-Louise Ward ... Girl with David Blakely
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Storyline

Ruth Ellis lives with her ten-year old son Andy next to a night club. One night she meets David Blakely, and they start a love affair. However, for David with his upper-class background, it is impossible to uphold the relationship. He breaks up with her, something which makes Ellis, obsessed by him, very upset. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It wasn't simply love. It was a case of cold-blooded passion.

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 August 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bailar con un extraño See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,174,622

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,260,519
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The closing epilogue reads: "Ruth Ellis was hanged on July 13, 1955, at H.M. Prison, Holloway." See more »

Goofs

Ruth switches on a radio which begins to play immediately. In those times, vacuum-tube radios had to warm up for about 20 seconds. See more »

Quotes

Anthony Findlater: She
[his wife]
Anthony Findlater: eats like a bird...
Ruth Ellis: Really? My son tells me birds eat twice their own weight every day.
See more »

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: Buried Treasures - 1987 Edition (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend
(uncredited)
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Leo Robin
See more »

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User Reviews

 
powerful and depressing true story
23 November 2009 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Miranda Richardson is her usual brilliant self in "Dance with a Stranger," a 1985 film telling the true story of Ruth Ellis and David Blakeley. Blakeley was a rich young race car driver who becomes involved in a obsessive, passionate, and often violent relationship with night club hostess Ellis. It leads to tragedy.

The scandal took place in the '50s, and the atmosphere of the time is captured beautifully here, and the film is well directed by Mike Newell. The acting is beyond flawless, with perfect performances by Ian Holm as the passive man who supported Ruth, Desmond Cussen, Rupert Everett as the self-centered Blakeley, and Richardson, one of the truly great actresses of our time, as Ruth. I'm not certain why Richardson's name isn't uttered along with that of Helen Mirren's or Meryl Streep's. She's a true chameleon. No one can ever equal her supporting performance in "Damage" - I don't really care that someone else won the Oscar! Here she gives a fully fleshed-out portrait of the unapologetic, tough, sexy Ellis.

The script has some disappointments - one of which is, we don't get to the real story until the last minutes of the film - it's not really told, in fact - so obviously, that wasn't considered the real story by screenwriter Shelagh Delaney. The problem is that Ellis' situation was very controversial, and if you know it, you sit through the movie waiting for that part to begin. If you don't, well, then I guess you won't miss it.

The purpose of "Dance with a Stranger" is to show what led up to the tragedy, which includes the class-consciousness of British society. In doing so, it leaves out the possible involvement of the Ian Holm character, Cussen, in what actually happened. Still, thanks to the strong acting, the story is fascinating, and these real characters come to life.


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