The British Film Institute presents the best global cinema on-demand:
From classic and contemporary films to the best of the BFI National Archive.

Tiger Bay
Tiger Bay

Tiger Bay 1959


This film is certified

Please confirm that you accept our terms of use.


Tiger Bay 1959 PG

104 mins United Kingdom Director. J. Lee Thompson

Beautifully shot and genuinely involving, Tiger Bay is a flare that signals the impending 1960s. Things were changing. Director J. Lee Thompson shaped a serious child character, devious and maybe even dislikeable were it not for Hayley Mills' skill and charisma. The script was reworked after her casting, and the interplay with Horst Bucholtz is multi-layered and convincing

Tiger Bay comes from a time when filmmakers were part of a wider sense of idealism and there was a pervading belief that films could change society.

British audiences had seen this template before – in Hunted or The Yellow Balloon (also directed by Thompson) – but never with such defiance.

Its progressive attitude embraces feminism and what Monthly Film Bulletin applauded as 'a firm feeling for outcasts and foreigners, their solidity and their background.'

Exquisite photography brings Cardiff to life, hinting at a city that mixes the Dickensian with something more daringly forward-facing.

Prime Minister Harold McMillan screened the film for a visiting President Eisenhower upon release. His thoughts went unrecorded.

Directed by

J. Lee Thompson


Hayley Mills

Horst Buchholz

John Mills


Police drama Thriller


British Classics






United Kingdom



Read lessRead more
Part of

1,000s of beautifully preserved films, capturing 120 years of Britain on Film

The map

Explore further

View Tiger Bay and The Rainbow Club - I
Tiger Bay and The Rainbow Club - I
Watch for free

Tiger Bay and The Rainbow Club - I 1960

Gorgeous colour images of the multicultural Tiger Bay in Cardiff's docks area: a lively, thriving community under threat from slum clearance.

38 mins Wales

View The Yellow Balloon
The Yellow Balloon
Watch from £2.98

The Yellow Balloon 1953 PG

A young boy is coerced into helping a fugitive in J. Lee Thompson’s taut crime thriller, set amid the bombed-out ruins of post-war London.

80 mins United Kingdom Director. J. Lee Thompson

View Tiger Bay and The Rainbow Club - II
Tiger Bay and The Rainbow Club - II
Watch for free

Tiger Bay and The Rainbow Club - II 1960

Cardiff’s Shirley Bassey, seen here as a member of The Rainbow Club, established to promote the performing arts amongst Tiger Bay children, found the crock of gold!

64 mins Wales


View All

Welcome to a new subscription service like no other.

>100s of hand-picked classics and critically-acclaimed films

>Critic Mark Kermode picks a must-see film every week

>No contract, cancel anytime

Cookies Policy

This website uses cookies, as explained in our Cookies Policy.

To accept the terms and hide this message please click 'I accept'.

I accept

Passionate about film? So are we…

Don't miss the email made for the in-the-know film fan:

New releases — on the same day as in cinemas Special collections & unheralded classics Exclusive news on discounts

Never ask | Ask me later