Yield to the Night (1956)

Genres - Crime, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama  |   Release Date - Jun 14, 1956 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 59 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

J. Lee Thompson's Yield To The Night (aka Blonde Sinner) offers a bravura performance by Diana Dors, as a woman too driven by her own irrational passions. Officially based on a novel by Joan Henry, the story is a very thinly-disguised retelling of the story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman ever executed in England, whose case was also dramatized in Dance With A Stranger, nearly three decades later. The movie, which was meticulously written and designed, suffers to some extent from the confined setting in which the action takes place, a drawback that is not wholly mitigated by the flashbacks in which the story is told -- Dors commands the screen in virtually every one of her scenes, however, a riveting presence, and she is matched by an exceptional cast led by Yvonne Mitchell as the most sympathetic of her warders. Michael Craig is on screen a little too briefly, as the man the center of her romantic obsession, but he is effective in his scenes, and it is only the sheer unpleasantness of the subject that prevents this movie from being more engrossing than it is; Dors et al are all appealing and wonderful to watch in their work, but Thompson never overcomes the hurdle of the inevitable ending. As this modestly budgeted UK thriller never got overly wide distribution in the United States, it is not nearly as well-known as Robert Wise's I Want To Live, which deals with a similar subject -- also retelling a true story -- in a more stylish and overtly dramatic manner (complete with a jazz-based score). But it should always be remembered that Wise's movie was made and released two years after Yield To The Night. Thompson fared better with fictional subjects that afforded him more creative leeway, including The Yellow Balloon and Tiger Bay.