Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1950s Tread Softly Stranger (1958)

Tread Softly Stranger (1958)

Handsome drifter Johnny Mansell (George Baker) flees London to avoid some villains who are looking to collect on a large gambling debt he owes them.

He returns to his Yorkshire hometown of Rawborough (the movie was filmed mostly in Rotherham) where he moves into a boarding house with his nervy brother Dave (Terence Morgan) and meets Dave’s girl, Calico (Diana Dors at her most pneumatic) – a femme fatale who dreams of Paris and Italy.

Dave is a payroll clerk at a local steel foundry and has embezzled £300 to buy expensive gifts for the glamorous but mercenary Calico. Now he desperately needs to repay the money before the auditors make their annual visit to the firm in a week’s time.

Johnny believes he can win enough money through betting and heads to the race track, but Calico pushes Dave to rob the wages office at his workplace and steal all the money to cover up his fraud, giving him a revolver and promising she will go away with him if he succeeds.

But the robbery goes tragically wrong and Dave kills the night watchman, old Joe Ryan (Joseph Tomelty), setting the two brothers on a downward spiral as Ryan’s son, Paddy (Patrick Allen) becomes suspicious.

There’s a distinct lack of Yorkshire accents given the locale, but the photography and the northern industrial setting are excellent and provide a splendid time capsule of a time and place now long gone.

Executive Producer George Minter was so determined to have Diana Dors in the role of Calico that he held up filming for two years until she was free to take the part. His faith was fully justified.

A gritty little British film noir crime drama. The title theme is sung by Jim Dale.

Calico
Diana Dors
Johnny Mansell
George Baker
Dave Mansell
Terence Morgan
Sylvia
Jane Griffiths
Paddy Ryan
Patrick Allen
Joe Ryan
Joseph Tomelty
Sergeant Lamb
Thomas Heathcote
Mr Potter
Russell Napier
Danny
Norman MacOwan
Mrs Finnegan
Maureen Delaney
Flo
Betty Warren
Eric Downs
Chris Fay
Young Rough
Terry Baker
Fletcher
Timothy Bateson
Inspector Harris
Andrew Keir
Mr Holroyd 
Wilfrid Lawson
Pawnbroker
John Salew
Linda
Sandra Francis

Director
Gordon Parry