Yield to the Night
Theatrical poster to the US release of Yield to the Night (1956)
Directed byJ. Lee Thompson
Written byJohn Cresswell
Joan Henry
Based onYield to the Night by Joan Henry
Produced byKenneth Harper
StarringDiana Dors
Yvonne Mitchell
Michael Craig
CinematographyGilbert Taylor
Edited byRichard Best
Music byRay Martin
Distributed byAssociated British-Pathé
Release dates
14 June 1956 (World Premiere, London)[1]
18 November 1956 (US)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£174,911[2]

Yield to the Night (also titled Blonde Sinner in the US) is a 1956 British crime drama film directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Diana Dors.[3] The film is based on the 1954 novel of the same name by Joan Henry.[4] The storyline bears a superficial and coincidental resemblance to the Ruth Ellis case, which had occurred the previous year but subsequent to the release of Henry's novel. The film received much positive critical attention, particularly for the unexpectedly skilled acting of Dors, who had previously been cast solely as a British version of the typical "blonde bombshell".[5] The movie was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival.[6]


Mary Hilton (Diana Dors) has been convicted of murder and sentenced to hang, and she spends her last weeks in the condemned cell in a British women's prison. While there she remembers the events in her life leading up to the murder.



The film was based on a book by Joan Henry, a writer and former debutante who had gone to prison. Henry wrote a memoir about her experiences which was filmed as The Weak and the Wicked, directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Diana Dors. Thompson married Henry and they decided to collaborate on another movie. Thompson was anti-capital punishment and wanted to do a story about a man in a death cell. Henry said she could not write about a man but might be able to do it about a woman. "So he really gave me the idea, and then I showed him a plan", she said. The novel of Yield to the Night was published in 1954.[7][8][9]

The storyline bore some similarities to the Ruth Ellis case but Henry wrote the story and script during the filming of The Weak and the Wicked. Dors (who had been briefly acquainted with Ellis on the film Lady Godiva Rides Again in 1951) said it "wasn’t about Ruth Ellis at all. Everybody thinks it was but the script was written two years before Ruth Ellis committed the murder. It's a fascinating syndrome that all this was put down on paper before it happened."[10]

Thompson later said "For capital punishment you must take somebody who deserves to die, and then feel sorry for them and say this is wrong. We did that in Yield to the Night: we made it a ruthless, premeditated murder."[11]

Dors said this "was the first time I ever had a chance to play such a part. I was very thankful to Lee J. Thompson for having faith in me. Until then everybody thought I was just a joke, and certainly not an actress to be taken seriously, even though I knew within myself I was capable of playing other roles. The big problem was trying to convince other people."[10]

Filming started at Elstree Studios on 2 November 1955.[citation needed]

Michael Craig said Thompson was "a small, very intense man with a violent temper, which could be provoked by practically anything or nothing. He had a nervous habit of tearing sheets of paper into long thin strips."[12] Craig thought Dors was "terrific... one of the most free-spirited and professional actresses I worked with."[13]


Variety called it "a grim form of entertainment."[14]

Filmink called it "a masterpiece, a stunningly good drama, where Dors plays a character who never asks for sympathy but gets it anyway: she's guilty of the crime, isn’t friendly to her family or death penalty protestors, still loves the louse who drove her to murder. The movie is full of little touches that speak volumes for Henry's personal experience in prison – the routine of changing guards, the conversations, the way the seconds drag on by, the visiting officials, the small privileges, the overwhelming pressure of the longing for a reprieve – and the final moments are devastating: it's one of the best British movies of the decade." [15]

The movie was Britain's entry to the 1956 Cannes Film Festival.

A 19-year-old woman reportedly committed suicide within hours of watching the film.[16]

Despite the film's success Dors never worked with Thompson again.[17]

In popular culture

An image of Diana Dors in a cell from the film was used on the cover of the Smiths' Singles album.


  1. ^ "Yield to the Night". Art & Hue. 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  2. ^ Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p510
  3. ^ "Yield to the Night (1956)". BFI. Archived from the original on 5 May 2016.
  4. ^ Williams, Melanie (30 June 2006). "Diana Dors: An angry young woman". The Independent. Archived from the original on 6 March 2009. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  5. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Yield to the Night (1956)".
  6. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Yield to the Night". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 7 February 2009.
  7. ^ Yield to the Night at TCMDB
  8. ^ "REVIEWS OF BOOKS IN BRIEF". The West Australian. Vol. 70, no. 21, 278. Western Australia. 2 October 1954. p. 29. Retrieved 15 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ "A woman on Death Row". The Daily Telegraph. Vol. XV, no. 49. New South Wales, Australia. 24 October 1954. p. 24. Retrieved 15 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ a b Williams, Tony (2000). "Diana Dors". Psychotronic Video. No. 32. p. 50.
  11. ^ "Diana Dors: An Angry Young Woman". The Independent. 30 June 2006. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022.
  12. ^ Craig, Michael (2005). The Smallest Giant: An Actor's Life. Allen and Unwin. p. 73.
  13. ^ Craig p 74
  14. ^ Review of film at Variety
  15. ^ Vagg, Stephen (30 August 2020). "Joan Henry: The Jailbird Muse". Filmink.
  16. ^ "SUICIDES AFTER SEEING FILM". The Canberra Times. Vol. 30, no. 1, 957. 7 September 1956. p. 14. Retrieved 15 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  17. ^ Vagg, Stephen (7 September 2020). "A Tale of Two Blondes: Diana Dors and Belinda Lee". Filmink.