Blonde Sinner

1956

Drama

5
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 839

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
February 16, 2021 at 04:09 PM

Cast

Diana Dors as Mary Hilton
Shirley Anne Field as (unknown) (uncredited)
Michael Craig as Jim Lancaster
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
915.13 MB
988*720
English 2.0
NR
24 fps
1 hr 39 min
P/S 5 / 19
1.66 GB
1472*1072
English 2.0
NR
24 fps
1 hr 39 min
P/S counting...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by music-room 9 / 10

Yield to this gem of true excellence.

'Yield to the Night'is a child of its time, the mid fifties. Set against the grim background of the condemned cell in what is presumed to be Holloway prison (the only hanging prison for women at that time),it is a strong statement against capital punishment in general, and for a condemned woman, in particular. By 1956, popular opinion in Britain had turned against the death penalty, fuelled by a series of unpopular executions, Derek Bentley, the educationally subnormal youth hanged in 1953 for the shooting of a policeman on a Croydon factory rooftop when his seventeen year old accomplice, Chris Craig, had fired the fatal shot (Craig was too young to hang); the executions of two women in quick succession, Louisa Merrifield and Stylou Christofi, and the cause celebre of Ruth Ellis, who shot her lover, David Blakely, outside a North London public house.

Obviously Ellis was the inspiration for Dors' character, Mary Hilton (both blondes, both shoot their lovers while emotionally distraught). Director J. Lee Thompson had worked with Diana Dors in the 1954 film 'The Weak and the Wicked', which, like 'Yield to the Night', was based on a book by Joan Henry. Times had changed, even during those two intervening years, and Thompson yearned for a broader, more hard hitting statement than his earlier offering. The action scenes are much pacier, with quick scene changes and remarkable (for its day) camera angles - the shots of Dors around a fountain amount to a cinematic work of art, and the murder itself is a tour de force of close ups, almost unbearable suspense and facial expressions (note the face of the uncredited cab driver when he realises what Mary has done).

We skip the trial to the first prison scene where the governor, played to perfection by that most authoritative of actresses, Marie Ney, informs Mary that her appeal had been denied. Geoffrey Keen, as a thoughtful chaplain, leaves the cell when Mary's lawyer appears, played by the veteran Charles Lloyd Pack, with an optimism that borders on insouciance. Mary settles into the daily routine, comforted by Liam Redmond, as the caring doctor. Flashbacks trace Mary's failed romance with Jim, a once ambitious pianist whose inner emotions are in turmoil, who is reduced to playing in nightclubs and acting as a third rate host, dancing with various women, including Mary's nemesis, the well heeled Lucy. Mary is besotted with him, but he is fatally attracted to Lucy, fuelling Mary's inveterate hatred for her. Jim commits suicide, leaving a note that is addressed to Lucy, pushing Mary over the edge. The flashbacks are not as convincing as the rest of the film, but perhaps that is due to their nature - we already know that Mary has shot Lucy, so the lead up to that cataclysmic situation is somehow diluted.

However, the prison scenes more than make up for that. The set is so incredibly realistic, down to the 'door with no handle', the door through which Mary will step, on execution morning. As the clock ticks down to that fateful day, some of the finest character actresses of the day shine through the gloom - Joan Miller, whose calm exterior finally cracks when Mary's reprieve is denied, and who entwines the shell-shocked Mary's fingers around a welcome mug of tea; prolific character actress Marianne Stone, as the flustered stand in wardress; the fearsome Olga Lindo, magnificent as veteran Warder Hill, whose granite exterior finally succumbs to pity as she strokes Mary's hair, a wonderfully touching nuance of direction which would not have been possible in 'The Weak and the Wicked'. Athene Seyler, who was also in 'The Weak and the Wicked' appears as a philanthropic 'prison visitor' who gives Mary flowers from her garden. However, the performance of Yvonne Mitchell, as the caring, Christian wardress, who offers Mary a blindfold to help her sleep (much to the chagrin of Hill), is towering in its tenderness and vulnerability, even getting away with the line: 'Have you ever thought that we ALL die, some morning'? (My own mother died at 7:45 pm!) Amazingly, the line works because of the well drawn relationship between the two.

The ending is dramatic - Mary is kneeling in the chapel with the chaplain while the hangman and his assistant are watching from behind an open door - we only see their hands, the hands which will put her to death, another triumph of creative direction and camera work. On the morning of the fateful day Mary leaves her partly smoked cigarette in the ash tray and her silhouette is seen from the front, arriving through THAT door, with the chaplain behind her, a detail that was incorrect, because the assistant executioner would be behind her, having tied her hands behind her back - in 1956 the secrets of capital punishment were still closely guarded, and would not be made public until the autobiography of chief hangman Albert Pierrepoint (1977) and his one time assistant, Syd Dernley in the late eighties.

Dors showed that she really could act, and that the British film industry was capable of producing work of realism and depth, a much better film than Susan Hayward's much vaunted film about Ruth Ellis's American equivalent, Barbara Graham, 'I want to live'! And the message? A life for a life is futile, and life should be for living. Yield to this fifties gem of true excellence.

Reviewed by robertconnor 9 / 10

"...for the night is already at hand and it is best to yield to the night"

Found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, a young woman lives out her last days under the watchful eyes of a small group of prison wardens.

From its edgy opening sequence as the camera furtively tracks Dors' determined and resolute steps towards the killing, to the devastating final image of a smouldering cigarette we suspect will still be burning after the executioner has pulled his leaver, Yield To The Night is an extraordinary exploration of the reasons and repercussions surrounding a premeditated murder in mid-fifties Britain. At its heart is a performance which, over 50 years later still resonates with depth and naturalism. Even as we have witnessed her coldly and repeatedly shoot another woman to death, under the expert direction of J. Lee Thompson, Dors enables us to feel sorrow for the killer Mary Hilton and even if we can't condone the deliberate taking of her victim's life, we can at least realise that Hilton is also somehow a victim of circumstance. Dors doesn't put a foot wrong from beginning to end and the fact that she didn't receive domestic and international award nominations for her performance is in my opinion as puzzling as it is unforgivable, especially when one considers what were the celebrated performances of the time (Virginia McKenna, Audrey Hepburn and Dorothy Alison were BAFTA nominated that year). Could it be that the British and subsequently Amercian studio systems were unwilling to accept Dors as the intelligent and talented actress she so obviously was? Certainly the marketing and promotion of Yield To The Night in the US supports this premise - retitled Blonde Sinner, with lurid posters ridiculously emphasising Dors' sex symbol qualities and carrying the ludicrous and tacky tag-line "The Man-By-Man Story of a Lost Soul".

Flaws? Yes - as written, Jim Lancaster, whilst handsome and initially charming just doesn't allow the viewer to believe he could be the reason for Mary's actions. Undoubtedly less to do with Michael Craig's performance than with the character being undeveloped in general. However, overall Yield To The Night is a powerful film that will linger long after the final credits have rolled, and now it is finally available in DVD should become essential viewing for all British cinema fans.

Reviewed by James.S.Davies 9 / 10

More than just a blonde bombshell!

Diana Dors in her first dramatic role, and last before her unsuccessful venture into Hollywood, sees her trade in her glamorous image for a more realistic and down to earth performance as a woman who finds herself on death row after committing a crime of passion. The film, based on a John Henry novel, has obvious similarities to the real life drama of Ruth Ellis, who murdered her ex-lover on a busy London street and become the last British woman to be hung a year before this film was made.

Dors had become one of the more famous starlets to emerge in Britain's post-war attempt at a Hollywood-like star system. Her familiarity with British audiences no doubt ensured sympathy for her character, which played partly on her bad-girl image. However, this was more than a mere star vehicle, and it saw her transform herself from a star to a serious actress. The American distributors seemed to miss the point somewhat, titling the film on its release there, 'Blonde Sinner'.

The film obviously draws upon the controversial issue of capital punishment. There is no doubt that, despite us witnessing her murder in cold blood, our sympathies are meant to lie with Dors' character. This is of course partly due to her star persona but also because of the way in which the film is directed. Rarely do we see the face of her victim who we learn nothing of apart from his cold attitude towards her ex-lover, Michael Craig, whom Dors has shown nothing but compassion for. Her callous attitude towards his tragic New Years eve suicide is exemplary of this, when she shrugs him off as someone who had just been a nuisance to her.

However, the film is commendable in that manages to avoid mere melodrama. We don't just get a one-sided view of events. We are left in no doubt that the Dors character is herself an adultress who committed a murder with malice and forethought. The issue the film achieves in getting across is the detrimental effect the capital punishment system has on those who are around it. Not only do we see the effect it has on Dors' family but also we get an insight of the wardesses who are with her for her final days. In particular we recognise the discipline shown by Yvonne Mitchell's character, Macfarlane, a young wardess who is drawn with compassion and sympathy towards Dors, and yet must contain her emotions especially during the last agonisingly pensive hours. There is also a feeling that we should not be overly sympathetic towards Dors, as she is rebuked by an elderly Christian lady that visits her for being too self-pitying and for showing little or no remorse. This theme is of course drawn on in more detail in Tim Robbins' recent death row drama 'Dead Man Walking'.

J. Lee Thompson's taut direction shows signs of his later atmospheric Stateside successes such as 'Cape Fear'. The expressionistic filming techniques used to add to the claustrophobic tension of the prison cell scenes are particularly effective. Yvonne Mitchell provides a strong supporting role as the young wardess who befriends Dors. However, it is Dors herself who should be applauded most of all for her emotional and naturalistic performance as the woman awaiting her fate. Some of the film's themes may seem rather cliched to a modern audience but I would imagine it hit a nerve when the issue was at the forethought of the British consciousness.

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