Filmed during the winter of 1958-59, Tiger Bay stars Hayley Mills in her first screen role, her father, John, the ‘German James Dean’, Horst Buchholz, as a Polish sailor, Korchinsky and a host of fine character actors. Originally a novel, the screenplay was adapted by John Hawkesworth and Shelly Smith and the film was directed by J. Lee Thompson.
From the start, J. Lee Thompson wanted John Mills in the film and so he arrived at the actor’s house to discuss the role. There, he saw Hayley Mills acting out TV commercials in the garden. Sensing that she would be ideal for the project, the director organized a screen test for Hayley Mills. The young girl, twelve at the time, shone during the screen test and was offered the part. However, there was one problem – in the novel the child was a boy, so John Hawkesworth and Shelley Smith had to adapt the role to suit Hayley Mills and in doing so they created Gillie, a ten-year-old tomboy.
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