Sunday, April 19, 2009

4/19/09: Tiger Bay (1959)

We end Hayley Mills week, oddly enough, with her film debut—and her only movie filmed in black and white. (It also transitions us nicely into the upcoming Fifties Week.) Generally considered one of her most outstanding movies, 12-year-old Hayley witnesses a "crime of passion"—a Polish sailor shoots his ex-girlfriend after a bitter argument—and ends up befriending and protecting him from the law. Hayley's real-life father, John Mills, plays a detective trying to solve the case. Although both Millses are superb, and the photography is splendid, I have a very difficult time with movies that ask us to sympathize with murderers—especially this guy, who at one point threatens Hayley with a gun as she pleads for him not to shoot her. Even when the Polish sailor risks his life to save Hayley from drowning, I couldn't forgive him for his crimes.

The film is impeccably acted and directed, but I simply couldn't muster up the requisite sympathy for the main character. Still, it's a fascinating glimpse into the very beginning of a great movie career for Hayley Mills—this is the one that landed her a contract with Disney beginning the following year. Rating: 2/5.

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