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Jack Popplewell (play)
George Minter (screenplay) ...
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Release Date:
1958 (USA) See more »
An irresistible temptress causes trouble between two brothers when the more handsome charismatic ones turns up, leading to robbery and death. | Add synopsis »
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(2 articles)
George Baker obituary
 (From The Guardian - TV News. 9 October 2011, 4:05 PM, PDT)

George Baker obituary
 (From The Guardian - Film News. 9 October 2011, 4:05 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Kitchen Sink Noir See more (6 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Diana Dors ... Calico

George Baker ... Johnny Mansell
Terence Morgan ... Dave Mansell
Patrick Allen ... Paddy Ryan
Jane Griffiths ... Sylvia
Joseph Tomelty ... Joe Ryan
Thomas Heathcote ... Sergeant Lamb
Russell Napier ... Potter
Norman Macowan ... Danny (as Norman MacOwan)
Maureen Delaney ... Mrs. Finnegan
Betty Warren ... Flo
Chris Fay ... Eric Downs
Terry Baker ... Young Rough
Timothy Bateson ... Fletcher
John Salew ... Pawnbroker
Michael Golden ... St. John's Ambulance Man
George Merritt ... Timekeeper
Jack McNaughton ... Workman (as Jack MacNaughton)
Andrew Keir ... Inspector Harris
Hal Osmond ... Flatcap
Norman Pierce ... Publican
Patrick Crean ... Blue Blazer
Sandra Francis ... Linda
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
William Kerwin ... Michael (uncredited)
Wilfrid Lawson ... Holroyd (uncredited)

Directed by
Gordon Parry 
Writing credits
Jack Popplewell (play "Blind Alley")

George Minter (screenplay) and
Denis O'Dell (screenplay)

Produced by
George Minter .... executive producer
Denis O'Dell .... producer
Original Music by
Tristram Cary 
Cinematography by
Douglas Slocombe 
Film Editing by
Anthony Harvey 
Casting by
Maude Spector 
Art Direction by
Elven Webb 
Costume Design by
Cynthia Tingey 
Makeup Department
Joan Smallwood .... hair stylist
Neville Smallwood .... makeup artist
Production Management
Robert Sterne .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Philip Shipway .... assistant director
Sound Department
Red Law .... sound recordist
Fred Ryan .... sound recordist (as F.H. Ryan)
Jim Shields .... dubbing editor (as James Shields)
Camera and Electrical Department
Desmond Davis .... camera operator
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Jack Verity .... wardrobe supervisor
Music Department
Muir Mathieson .... musical director
Ken Jones .... composer: source music (uncredited)
Other crew
Fred Hymns .... assistant to producer
Kay Rawlings .... continuity
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
90 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Did You Know?

Johnny Mansell:Funny thing about women in men's jerseys - makes them look more like women than ever.See more »
Tread Softly StrangerSee more »


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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Kitchen Sink Noir, 12 September 2013
Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England

Johnny Mansell is forced to flee London after running up large gambling debts and returns to his native town, the industrial town of Rawborough, where he moves into a flat with his brother Dave and Dave's girlfriend Calico. (It's a nickname!). The two brothers are, at least on the surface, very different. Johnny is a suave, fashionably dressed playboy, whose sources of income are rather mysterious, whereas the dowdy, bespectacled Dave is a wages clerk in a local steel mill. The outwardly respectable Dave, however, is hiding a guilty secret. He has embezzled £300 from his employers in order to buy expensive gifts for the glamorous but mercenary Calico and desperately needs to repay the money before the auditors make their annual visit to the firm. Johnny believes that he can win enough money in a betting coup, but Calico comes up with a plan for Dave to rob his workplace and to steal enough money to cover his fraud. Dave is desperate enough to go ahead with this plan, and the rest of the film deals with the disastrous consequences of his action.

British films noirs, unlike their American counterparts, often included elements of the "kitchen sink realism" which was very much in vogue in the Britain of the late fifties and early sixties, not only in the cinema but also in literature and the visual arts. "Tread Softly Stranger" with its factories and its shabby flats and nightclubs, permeated by an atmosphere of seediness and moral corruption, fits well into this tradition. George Baker's Johnny, a handsome, charming drifter living on the edge of the law but with a certain sense of honour and loyalty, is a classic noir figure.

This was the second film which Diana Dors made after returning to Britain following her brief and unsuccessful attempt to conquer Hollywood; the first, "The Long Haul", was also a crime drama. Dors is often thought of as Britain's answer to America's blonde bombshells like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, but on the evidence of this film she could also be seen as the British equivalent of femmes fatales like Lizabeth Scott and Gloria Grahame. American films noirs often featured a beautiful and seductive but dangerous young woman as one of the main characters, and British directors working in the same style sometimes copied this feature. Although there were occasional brunette examples, such as the character played by Ava Gardner in "The Killers", the majority of these women were blonde, possibly because blondes had a greater visual impact in films shot in black-and-white. (This was said to have been the reason why Hitchcock used blondes in so many of his films, although he continued doing so even after he switched to colour).

Diana's pneumatic figure and platinum blonde looks meant that she was often cast in comedies, generally with a sexual edge to them, but her real strength was in serious drama. (Although many people thought of her as little more than a sexy bimbo, she was actually a classically trained actress). "Yield to the Night" from two years earlier is often quoted as her greatest achievement in the cinema, but in my view she is equally good here. The two roles are in a sense complementary. Mary, her character in "Yield to the Night", is a murderess, yet is portrayed as a woman more sinned against than sinning. Calico, by contrast, is selfish and amoral, yet it is Dave and Johnny, both of whom have fallen for her charms, who have to pay the price for her selfishness and amorality.

The one jarring note in Diana's performance is her accent. In her private life she spoke with a strong West Country accent- she was a native of Swindon- but in her films she generally used the upper-class Received Pronunciation she had learned at drama school, and that sounds wrong here, as Calico is supposed to be a working-class girl who has clawed her way up from the gutter. British film-makers of this period, however, could be curiously careless when it came to regional accents, even when they were aiming for realism in other respects. Rawborough is supposed to be in Yorkshire- Rotherham was used for location filming– but there are hardly any Yorkshire accents to be heard. ("Brief Encounter" is another example of a film ostensibly set in the North where everyone sounds as though they are from the Home Counties).

The film did well at the box-office on its original release in 1958 but was generally ignored by the critics; there was a common assumption, on both sides of the Atlantic, that crime dramas, including some which are today regarded as cinema classics, were no more than potboilers. Interest in them, however, has grown over the decades. "Tread Softly Stranger" is not, perhaps, in the same class as the greatest British noirs such as Carol Reed's "The Third Man" or Robert Hamer's "The Long Memory", but with its gripping action, some good acting and its starkly expressionist photography of the industrial scenes it certainly remains worth watching. 7/10

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