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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.




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3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
David Blakeley
Desmond Cussen
Matthew Carroll ...
Anthony Findlater
Jane Bertish ...
Carole Findlater
David Troughton ...
Cliff Davis
Paul Mooney ...
Clive Gunnell
Stratford Johns ...
Morrie Conley
Susan Kyd ...
Sallie Anne Field ...
Claudette (as Sallie-Anne Field)
David Beale ...
Man in Little Club
Martin Murphy ...


Ruth Ellis lives with her 10-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


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


Biography | Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

9 August 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bailar con un extraño  »

Box Office


$138,359 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Miranda Richardson was the first actress to portray Ruth Ellis in a big screen movie though Georgina Hale had played her previously in an episode of the Ladykillers (1980) [See: Ladykillers: Lucky, Lucky Thirteen! (1980)]. Later, Mary Stockley played Ellis in the subsequent cinema movie "The Last Hangman" aka _Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman (2005). See more »


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 »


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 »


I Came, I Saw, I Conga'd
Written by John Redmond, Frank Weldon and James Cavanaugh
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User Reviews

Not for the faint of heart
10 December 2000 | by (New Haven, CT) – See all my reviews

There is nothing sentimental about this story of obsession. Set in London in the 1950's--and what could be drearier--this bleak story based on the true story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be executed in England, is a tour-de-force for Newell, the director, the two leads, Richardson and Everett, and the incomparable Ian Holm.

Miranda Richardson as Ellis gives a knockout performance in every scene. She has so perfectly captured the emotional pitch of a woman in love with a heel that one cannot help identifying with her. Her all-consuming love, even to the point of neglecting her son, makes it ridiculous to entertain the common query of "why doesn't she just get away from him?" Mike Newell captures all of the emotional highs and lows of a relationship of this kind, and the rakishly handsome Everett is both charming and destructive as Ellis's amor.

The beauty of this movie is that it is not just about two ill-fated lovers, the way many Hollywood movies are. It is also about England's class system. Ellis's attraction to Blakeley is more about her desire to be acknowledged by her "betters" than just by this one man. Perhaps the most heartrending scene comes at the end where one sees Ellis's painted finger going over a letter she is about to send on the eve of her execution to Blakeley's mother, apologizing for the misery she has caused her. The language of the letter is perfect, because it reveals volumes about Ellis's class aspirations, and the hopelessness of her ever achieving them.

This movie is a must-see for movie lovers, but it is not for the Meg Ryan set.

35 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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