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Deadly Strangers (1975)

This 1975 British psychological thriller begins with a violent escape from a lunatic asylum – but we don’t see who it was that escaped.

Stephen Slade (Simon Ward) is a salesman driving around in an Austin Maxi who picks up a young woman named Belle (former Disney star Hayley Mills) in the rain after she was attacked by a lecherous lorry driver who gave her a lift.

Stephen, who seems to be a peeping tom at heart, lies about the last train having gone so that she will ride with him and keep him company while the prim Belle seems to also be hiding secrets. Both seem like lost souls tormented by the past.

The pair end up driving around the West Country as the secrets they hold come slowly to the surface.

They meet a bluff, eccentric, middle-aged man by the name of Malcolm Robarts (Sterling Hayden) with whom they form a brief association.

They finally part, and as the youngsters drive off, Robarts goes to buy a newspaper and gets a shock when he opens it and sees a picture which makes him realise he has been talking to the killer.

Robarts informs the police and the chase is on to find and apprehend the car before anything can happen to the psychopath’s innocent companion.

It’s a very adult role for Mills – she even has a nude scene and has to fend off the unwelcome attentions of Peter Jeffrey as her sleazy childhood guardian (after her parents were killed in a car crash) in flashbacks.

Suffice it to say, we find out who it was that escaped from that asylum before the end.

Belle Adams
Hayley Mills
Stephen Slade
Simon Ward
Malcolm Robarts
Sterling Hayden
Jim Nicholls
Ken Hutchison
Belle’s Uncle
Peter Jeffrey
Cafe Owner
Hubert Tucker
Petrol Station Attendant
Nina Francis
1st Motorcycle Youth 
George Collis
2nd Motorcycle Youth
Ralph Arliss
Steven’s Girl Friend
Juliet Aykroyd
Motorcycle Policeman
Roger Nott
Hotel Receptionist
Norman Tyrrell

Sidney Hayers