J. Lee Thompson’s British crime drama known as Tiger Bay was released on this day 63 years ago in 1959. The film stars actors John Mills, his daughter Hayley Mills and Horst Buchholz, and tells a grim tale filled with lies, deceit and murder.
Tiger Bay was shot on location in Cardiff, which made it unique amongst British cinema at the time, as many British films were shot inside studios. Tiger Bay used real life locations around Cardiff and South Wales, including the Cardiff docklands, and places such as local parks, pubs, churches and docks. Local residents from the area were hired to play extras in the film as well, many of which were reportedly excited to see movie crews on their doorstep.
“It was brilliant, I remember it well – the excitement of it all” said Gregor Legall who was a child at the time Tiger Bay was being filmed. (Source:ITV X)
The Newport Transporter Bridge was also a prominent filming location for Tiger Bay, because of its position of being one of a very small number of working transporter bridges worldwide. The bridge is used in the opening scene of the film.
Tiger Bay also served as the acting debut of Hollywood star Hayley Mills, who went on to star in Pollyanna (1960) The Parent Trap (1961) ). Mills was originally not meant to be cast in the film at all, as her character was originally written for a boy. But just as Tiger Bay did things differently with its filming, so too was its casting choice, as Hayley was an unknown actress at the time, being just 12 years old. Hayley also went on to win a BAFTA award for her role as Gillie in Tiger Bay.
Watch Hayley reminiscing about Tiger Bay here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=686651485103215
Unfortunately much of the old Tiger Bay neighbourhoods and docklands were bulldozed down shortly after the film wrapped shooting, to make way for new builds, although the church used in the film is still left standing on North Church Street.
The movie now acts as a time capsule of sorts, offering a look back in history at what the Cardiff Bay area used to look like. The film preserves the story of the area and offers people a chance to look back and appreciate the area’s history.
Watch the trailer for Tiger Bay here: Tiger Bay (J. Lee Thompson, 1959) Trailer