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Dance with a Stranger (1985, Miranda Richardson, Rupert Everett)



Mike Newell’s acclaimed film tells the story of the life and tragic death of Ruth Ellis (MIRANDA RICHARDSON), the last woman to be hanged for murder in Britain, movingly recreating the tempestuous affair of Ellis and handsome racing driver David Blakely (RUPERT EVERETT) and the eventual crime of passion, Blakely’s shooting, for which Ellis paid with her life in 1955.

Ruth met Blakely in 1953, when she was a hostess in a seedy nightclub owned by Morrie Conley (STRATFORD JOHNS). Her affair with Blakely was marked by violent quarrels, witnessed by Ruth’s ten-year-old son Andy (MATTHEW CARROLL) and her friend, confidant and protector Desmond Cussen (IAN HOLM). As the relationship deteriorated, Blakely began to drink heavily and Ruth lost both her job and home. She moved in with Cussen, who believed that she had ended her affair with Blakely but the two met behind his back. When Cussen found out, Ruth left him to live alone.

Desperate to hold on to Blakely, Ruth refused to accept he had tired of her. Following a miscarriage, she turned to drink and drugs while Blakely sought refuge with friends. Finally, the tragedy came to its head. On April 10, 1955, Blakely left the Magdala pub in Hampstead. Ruth Ellis, waiting outside, shot him dead.

On its theatrical release in 1985, Screen International hailed Miranda Richardson’s portrayal as ‘a performance to linger in the memory for a lifetime’, while The Face applauded ‘one of the most sensational screen debuts in recent years’.

production details
UK | 102 minutes | 1985

Director: Mike Newell
Script: Shelagh Delaney

Miranda Richardson as Ruth Ellis
Rupert Everett as David Blakeley
Ian Holm as Desmond Cussen
Stratford Johns as Morrie Conley
Joanne Whalley as Christine
Tom Chadbon as Anthony Findlater
Jane Bertish as Carole Findlater
David Troughton as Cliff Davis
Matthew Carroll as Andy
David Beale as Man in Little Club
Charon Bourke as Ballroom Singer
Lesley Manville as Maryanne