Three Steps to the Gallows
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Gilling
Written byPaul Erickson
John Gilling
Produced byRobert S. Baker
Monty Berman
StarringScott Brady
Mary Castle
Gabrielle Brune
CinematographyMonty Berman
Edited byMargery Saunders
Music byStanley Black
Distributed byEros Films
Lippert Pictures (US)
Release dates
December 1953
1 January 1954 (US)
Running time
81 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Three Steps to the Gallows is a 1953 British second feature[1] crime film directed by John Gilling and starring Scott Brady, Mary Castle and Gabrielle Brune.[2] It was released in the USA by Lippert Pictures as White Fire.


An American merchant ship officer on shore leave in London learns that his brother is about to be hanged in three days and sets out to prove his innocence against an organised smuggling gang based in a nightclub. His plight becomes increasingly tense in the face of double crosses and bad decisions in a race against time.



It was produced by the Tempean Films and made at the Southall Studios with sets designed by the art director Wilfred Arnold. Location shooting took place in London including on Regent Street, around Chelsea and at the Olympia Exhibition Centre.

Critical reception

Kine Weekly said "Romantic crime melodrama, unfolded in the metropolis. Its tale of mayhem and murder wants a bit of following, yet, for all its complexity it manages to hold the interest and hand out quite a number of thrills. The cast, headed by popular American players, is sound. Grim and good humoured in turn, it provides the variety that isthe spice of mystery fare."[3]

Monthly Film Bulletin said "A conventional thriller. The only novel idea – using the British Industries Fair as the setting for a manhunt – has not been at all well exploited. Scott Brady adequately fills the role of the American-in-Britain inevitable in this type of crime story."[4]

In British Sound Films: The Studio Years 1928–1959 David Quinlan rated the film as "average", writing: "Very formula thriller, given a litle gloss by its two Hollywood stars."[5]

Chibnall and McFarlane in The British 'B' Film wrote that the film: "took [a] walk on London's wild side the company of a visiting American seaman huskily played by Scott Brady. His leading lady was another minor Hollywood star, the Rita Hayworth look-alike Mary Castle. Although formulaic, the action was brisk and often violent, and the settings, as usual, were authentic – including a sequence at the British Industries Fair."[1]


  1. ^ a b Chibnall, Steve; McFarlane, Brian (2009). The British 'B' Film. London: BFI/Bloomsbury. p. 86. ISBN 978-1-8445-7319-6.
  2. ^ "Three Steps to the Gallows". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 24 November 2023.
  3. ^ "Three Steps to the Gallows". Kine Weekly. 441 (2423): 19. 3 December 1953 – via ProQuest.
  4. ^ "Three Steps to the Gallows". Monthly Film Bulletin. 21 (240): 12. 1954 – via ProQuest.
  5. ^ Quinlan, David (1984). British Sound Films: The Studio Years 1928–1959. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd. p. 387. ISBN 0-7134-1874-5.