6.7/10
2,339
24 user 17 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
Reviews
3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Edit

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
Learn more

More Like This 

Wetherby (1985)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The mysterious death of an enigmatic young man newly arrived in the suburb of Wetherby releases the long-repressed, dark passions of some of its residents.

Director: David Hare
Stars: Vanessa Redgrave, Ian Holm, Judi Dench
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A farmer becomes an unintentional celebrity when, because of a strike, he has to walk his five thousand geese, one hundred miles to market.

Director: Richard Eyre
Stars: Ian Holm, Penelope Wilton, Bill Owen
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Kitty Baldry (Julie Christie) is a haughty society queen with a tunnelled view of life. Kitty's complacency is rocked when her husband, Captain Chris Baldry (Sir Alan Bates), returns from ... See full summary »

Director: Alan Bridges
Stars: Julie Christie, Glenda Jackson, Ann-Margret
Dreamchild (1985)
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Exploring the somewhat darker and more mysterious side of Lewis Carroll's classic book, the movie follows Alice Liddell Hargreaves (Coral Browne) (the book's inspiration) as an old woman ... See full summary »

Director: Gavin Millar
Stars: Coral Browne, Ian Holm, Peter Gallagher
Bad Blood (1981)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

During World War 2, a farmer in New Zealand murders seven people, and the police, along with local Maori trackers, hunt him in the bush country.

Director: Mike Newell
Stars: Jack Thompson, Carol Burns, Denis Lill
The Advocate (1993)
Crime | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In medieval France, young lawyer Richard Courtois leaves Paris for the simpler life in the country. However, he is soon drawn into amorous and political intrigues. At the same time, he is ... See full summary »

Director: Leslie Megahey
Stars: Colin Firth, Amina Annabi, Jim Carter
Esther Kahn (2000)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A Jewish girl in nineteenth century London, dreams of becoming a stage actress.

Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Stars: Summer Phoenix, Ian Holm, Fabrice Desplechin
Soursweet (1988)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Just married Hong Kong couple Chen & Lily emigrate to England, soon to become parents to a little baby boy and generally struggle through life. Chen works long days in a restaurant, while ... See full summary »

Director: Mike Newell
Stars: Sylvia Chang, Danny Dun, Jodi Long
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A national service non-commissioned officer (David Warner) comes face to face with an embittered Irish Gunner (Nicol Williamson) who is determined to humiliate him.

Director: Jack Gold
Stars: Nicol Williamson, Ian Holm, David Warner
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Four English women, after World War I, who are unhappy with their lives, and their time away on vacation in a beautiful Italian villa.

Director: Mike Newell
Stars: Alfred Molina, Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

In a dreary North London flat, the site of perpetual psychological warfare, a philosophy professor visits his family after a nine-year absence, and introduces the four men, father, uncle, and two brothers, to his wife.

Director: Peter Hall
Stars: Cyril Cusack, Ian Holm, Paul Rogers
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Around 1940, The New Yorker staff writer Joe Mitchell meets Joe Gould, a Greenwich Village character, who cadges meals, drinks, and contributions to the Joe Gould Fund, and who is writing a... See full summary »

Director: Stanley Tucci
Stars: Ian Holm, Stanley Tucci, Hope Davis
Edit

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Miranda Richardson won the Best Actress award at the Evening Standard British Film Awards for her performance in this movie. 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

Happy Birthday To You
(uncredited)
Written by Mildred J. Hill and Patty S. Hill
See more »

User Reviews

Worth the wait
13 December 2000 | by Canino-4See all my reviews

I first heard of this movie at work in 1984 when I saw an engineer who had the movie ad pinned up in his cubicle. I'd had this movie in the back of my head and always meant to check it out, but I've never seen it for rental and didn't want to risk plunking down $20 to order it. It was worth the wait.

Miranda Richardson, probably best known for The Crying Game and Sleepy Hollow (Now there's a combo!) stars as Ruth Ellis, a deluded romantic from 1950's England who managed to ride a sexual obsession to her own execution, the last on the books in the country's history. All this comes at the expense of a man who truly loves her, and a son who is not a priority in her life, to say the least. Ellis was adored, worshipped even, by clumsy businessman Ian Holm, but she only has eyes for Ruppert Everett. Everett's a hot shot car driver working on some new car design that's he convinced is going to revolutionize the auto industry. He exudes the confidence that Holm couldn't hope to possess. All three performances are outstanding.

As the story unfolds, director Mike Newell seems to pull no punches. I don't know the how's or the who's of this case, but Newell gives this film an authenticity many strive for, but few attain. In essence, it's Holm's character that is hung out to dry. He has to stand by as Everett continually denigrates Richardson both physically (A few punches, a glass of booze in the face,etc.), and emotionally (Too many episodes to count). Holm could have been molded into a flawed hero, and perhaps he would have been in the hands of a director with eyes on receipts instead of craft. Everett's character could have slipped into melodrama, as well. He has a roguish charm, I suppose, but he's basically just a spoiled rich boy, the type to bring a low class Richardson too his parents estate, and be suprised when she is intimidated.

At the center is Richardson, bringing Ruth Ellis back to life. It's disturbing how she can see what she's doing to her young son, truly care for him, but not let it effect her. Even more reprehensible is watching her use Holm to watch her child while she crawls back to Everett after another beating, to sneak a quickie in a fog-filled back alley.

Mike Newell directed Donnie Brasco, an excellent film which took a similar, bleak look at the life of a policeman who set aside his family in the name of his job. Newell didn't flinch in painting Joseph Pistone (The real life cop), as an obsessed man who started to lose his own identity. Pistone's family pays a heavy price for his dedication (misplaced?), but Ruth Ellis' paid even more. She left a son alone, and it's not a stretch to infer that he led a desperate life, based on what we learn in the closing comments.

Don't wait 16 years to see this film, like I did. Hunt it down on cable, or check out your local video store. This is a small story that gets big treatment.


36 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 24 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 August 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dance with a Stranger See more »

Edit

Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,174,622

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,174,622
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 »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.



Recently Viewed