No Trees in the Street

No Trees in the Street is a 1959 British crime thriller directed by J. Lee Thompson and written by Ted Willis, from his 1948 stage play of the same name.[1][2]

No Trees in the Street
Directed byJ. Lee Thompson
Produced byFrank Godwin
Written byTed Willis
StarringSylvia Syms
Herbert Lom
Stanley Holloway
Music byLaurie Johnson
CinematographyGilbert Taylor
Edited byRichard Best
Distributed byAssociated British-Pathé (UK),
Seven Arts (US)
Release date
1959 (UK)
1964 (US)
Running time
96 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom


Initially, the film's story is narrated by Frank (Ronald Howard) a local plain clothes policeman in love with Hetty (Sylvia Syms).

In the slums of London before World War II, Tommy (Melvyn Hayes) is an aimless teenager who tries to escape his squalid surroundings by entering a life of crime. He falls in with local racketeer Wilkie (Herbert Lom), who holds the rest of the slum citizens - including Tommy's own family - in a grip of fear.

For a brief period, Hetty (Tommy's older sister) becomes Wilkie's girlfriend until he humiliates her in front of the other slum citizens simply to show his power over them, after which she will have nothing to do with Wilkie despite him repeatedly asking her to come back to him.

The film chronicles Tommy's sordid progression from minor thefts to murder.[3]

At the end of the film, Hetty and Frank are seen to be married and living in a new council flat long after the slums have been demolished.


Critical reception

TV Guide wrote "NO TREES suffers from artificiality of plot and dialog. Characterizations are reduced to mere stereotypes...There are some notable exceptions within the drama, however. Syms is surprisingly moving, giving a sensitive performance despite the film's constraints. Holloway's characterization of a bookie's tout is comical and charming...The camerawork attempts a realistic documentary look, which manages to succeed in capturing the details of slum life that make the setting seem surprisingly naturalistic. The finer points of the film, however, are overshadowed by its faults."[4] Time Out wrote "released at a time when kitchen sink drama was all the rage, this is an unremarkable 'we had it tough' chronicle from another age."[5] Variety wrote "Ted Willis is a writer with a sympathetic eye for problems of the middle and lower classes...Syms gives a moving performance as the gentle girl who refuses to marry the cheap racketeer just to escape. Lom, as the opportunist who dominates the street, is sufficiently suave and unpleasant."[6]


  1. Peter Cotes (24 December 1992). "Obituary: Lord Willis - People - News". The Independent. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  2. "No Trees in the Street | BFI | BFI". Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  3. "No Trees in the Street (1958) - Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast". AllMovie. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  4. "No Trees In The Street Review". Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  5. "No Trees in the Street | review, synopsis, book tickets, showtimes, movie release date | Time Out London". 4 November 2007. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  6. "No Trees in the Street". Variety. 31 December 1958. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
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