Russell T Davies and Eve Myles look at the Hollywood films that have portrayed Wales over the years, visiting locations of classic films and taking a trip down the Walk of Fame.
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From the very beginnings of the film industry, Wales has had a relationship with Hollywood.
And now filming on Welsh soil and in the US, home-grown show Torchwood is taking Wales to the world.
It was a shock because the networks don't do it.
It's unheard of that they've done this.
Can Torchwood change some of Hollywood's misunderstandings and myths about Wales?
People say, "My God, that's such a nice accent, where are you from?"
I'll say "Wales," and they'll go, "OK."
If you watch Clash Of The Titans, that modern remake of Clash Of The Titans,
at the end it says on the credits, "filmed in Wales, England".
On the credits! On the credits, twice!
We take Torchwood writer and former Doctor Who supremo Russell T Davies
to a Malibu park, which 70 years ago doubled up as a South Wales valley.
You can't help wondering how many of these people knew all the extras.
Did they know what Wales was?
It must be like an Outer Mongolian tribe for them or something.
We look at the films that have portrayed Wales ever since.
Stereotypes, cliches and all.
We discover how these two rabbit stealing men in Maesteg helped change the face of Hollywood movies.
And Eve Myles takes trip down the walk of fame to find the Welsh stars
who have made their mark in Tinseltown.
-How are you?
-I'm very well, thank you.
-Where you from?
-We're from Wales.
We're doing a documentary from Wales.
Oh, welcome, Wales, welcome to Hollywood. All right, awesome.
The Welsh have been making an impact over the pond for quite some time.
And this year home grown show Torchwood is set to fly the red dragon for Wales too.
Filming in Wales and Hollywood, our hit show and our Welsh talent are making a big impression.
There's all this buzz going on, this new production from Wales
was here on the Warner Brothers.
You can't talk about it because it's really exciting.
'To take this stuff and to make it truly international is'
just a compliment for Welsh work, Welsh imagination and Welsh power.
This is stage 27A,
constructed in 1935.
And our Welsh show is on hallowed ground, filming in studios once
graced by George Clooney, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.
This is it, that's Swansea, there.
This is inside a house in Swansea.
They've done an amazing job of replicating it, very Welsh. They've done it spot on.
But we're in Los Angeles.
And of course no house in Wales should be without one.
'Most people in America'
still think of Britain as being people in Beefeater hats,
so if they think that's what Britain's like, you can imagine what they think Wales is like.
A lot of people even in the States, you say you're going to Wales, they don't know where it is
and that's one thing that's great about doing what we're doing.
It's going to put Wales more on the map, more so than ever.
They may have trouble locating Wales on the map, but our influence in Hollywood goes back a long way.
Way before Torchwood,
even before the birth of Hollywood,
one man from Wales was causing a bit of a stir in America.
This entrepreneur was helping turn flickering images into a global industry.
I don't want you lads worrying about the cost of enjoying yourselves.
I offer you
Haggar's magical world of dreams
for one penny piece.
Yep. William Haggar gave Welsh audiences just what they wanted.
A penny for your dreams.
And they flocked in their droves.
Essex boy William Haggar moved to Wales to chase the growing wealth from coal.
His family thought he'd lost the plot when he spent their
hard earned savings on a new fangled movie camera.
Audiences of the day were getting bored of the usual films,
trains going through tunnels or even a wall falling down.
So, this visionary showman filmed his own spectacular dramas,
the likes of which had never been seen before.
And he wasn't making film for the love of it.
Like the Hollywood machine of today, it was all about the money.
Peter Yorke, great grandson of William Haggar, works hard to keep
the memory of this pioneering filmmaker alive today.
So this is Desperate Poaching Affray,
made in 1903 on the hills above Maesteg.
The poachers have a butterfly net.
They have two pet rabbits which they proceed to catch in the butterfly
net and stuff into their pockets, so they bundle the butterfly net up and rush away into the bushes.
It may not look much by today's standards
but William Haggar was helping start a revolution in cinema.
I think his films were entertaining because he put into them all the movement, all the violence, all the
shockingness that the fairground audience would find attractive.
The USA couldn't get enough of these shocking films.
Within weeks of making them in Wales they were hitting screens across
America, and were widely emulated by Thomas Edison and others.
His gamble had paid off and was making him very rich.
And believe it or not, this piece of film is a milestone in cinema history.
It's one of the first ever camera pans.
And yes, it was shot here in Wales.
Haggar's poacher chase was so popular it was emulated
in the American film The Great Train Robbery.
His films were inspiring a new generation of movie makers.
And even today we still have all the excitement of a Haggar chase
on location in Rhossili Bay, Gower, with Torchwood.
With a foot on both sides of the Atlantic, the series fuses the best of Wales and America.
OK, OK! Who the hell are you people?
Welsh writer Russell T Davies is on a mission to break the mould
of how Wales and the Welsh are portrayed on screen.
'I can remember when a Welsh person appearing on television was like a miracle.'
I used to put Welsh characters in things, the stuff I wrote in Manchester, and they'd get
taken out because they'd change the surname. People say, "Just cast a local girl, Ennis or something."
You'd go, "Oh, all right." I always was passionate about
getting this stuff. You just shouldn't give up.
There's plenty of people telling you it can't be done and they're the people who never do anything.
It's always been a struggle to get Wales on screen
and when we did see ourselves, many of the cliches and stereotypes were there for all to see.
Torchwood looks set to change some of these ideas, but where did these images of Wales come from?
A look back in cinema history will shed light on some long established myths.
Back in the 1930s
Wales and its landscape was in demand in Hollywood.
They didn't actually film in Wales, but influenced by documentaries showing bleak landscapes,
coal mines and depression, what better place could there be to set dark thrillers?
There were several Welsh gothic films made at this time.
And one of them, a favourite of Dylan Thomas, was The Old Dark House.
Oh now, for heaven's sake, stop.
Let's look at a map or something.
Oh you look, I can't see anything.
It's all a stupid puddle.
It seems to represent this country very well.
Everything here is under water.
Hollywood was painting a picture of Wales and this was just the start.
Some powerful images were being created. It always rained in Wales.
Black faced miners would sing on their way to work.
And our tight-knit communities saw outsiders arriving to experience,
and sometimes try to change, this rather strange place.
They burst into song on the slightest provocation.
You mustn't take any notice.
In The Corn Is Green, we see Bette Davies playing an outsider crossing
the border into Wales to improve the lot of us simple Welsh folk.
I'm going to start a school.
-A school! What for?
You see these books, hundreds of them. These nippers are to be cut off from that forever, are they? Why?
Just because they happen to be born penniless in an uncivilised country.
But I couldn't teach those children, I couldn't. They... They smell.
Well, if we'd never been taught to wash, so would we.
Was this American makeover of Emlyn Williams' stage play
giving audiences a positive image of Wales and its language?
That was obviously said for my benefit.
Would you mind translating it for me?
I said, "Teacher, can I stay in after school?"
-You don't like the idea of the school.
-We do not.
I hardly expected that you would.
# All through the night... #
The Proud Valley saw yet another outsider coming to Wales.
But this film, featuring American actor and civil rights activist,
Paul Robeson, created a much more favourable picture.
Even so we still had miners and hardship, and another stereotype was being strengthened.
This was the land of song.
# All through the night
# We're singing. #
And we kept singing.
Yes, you can always rely on us for a song.
And we sang all the way from the mines to the Oscars with this classic.
How Green Was My Valley.
Clint Eastwood's favourite film.
This thoroughly American epic, for better or worse, was to shine the glitzy Hollywood spotlight on Wales.
Filmed in America, here was a movie painting a rather romanticised
picture of our nation, that was set to stick.
Singing and dancing in traditional Welsh manner all the way down the red carpet.
Here we are driving through Malibu, looking at Wales,
which is the perfect way to spend an afternoon really.
Exactly 70 years since it hit the big screen, Russell T Davies is
taking the freeway to the original location of How Green Was My Valley.
Look at that, it's classic, isn't it? The thing is, that's not just an
American view of Wales, it's an English view of Wales as well.
It's how people see the place.
It's kind of beautiful.
That could be Swansea.
I suppose these are meant to be miners' cottages.
They're quite spacious! They're not doing too badly, these people.
That house is enormous!
I don't think they got their research quite right here with humble miners' cottages.
-Mr Mike Malone.
-Hello, good morning, Russell.
So good to meet you, finally.
This, in 1941, was Wales here.
Brilliant. Because I'm a Welshman.
It's not quite like this at home.
Right. There was a vision that Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox,
-had to actually go to Wales.
However there was something going on in Europe
called World War Two, at least the early beginnings.
That small detail got in the way.
That made them rethink it.
I'm sad now for a moment, I'm sad they didn't bring Hollywood to Wales. People don't realise.
You look at photos, you think they've put up a few bits of hardboard and stuff like that.
-They built a village.
They built an entire village, for real, out of stone on this hill.
Some 150 men laboured over about three months creating and building this village here.
The streets were strewn with rubble and stone.
-This hillside right in front of us actually was littered with slag.
-This was turned into a slag heap.
Exactly, it was even black stained, to make it have a sheen.
-They painted rock.
At the time this was the most expensive outdoor set ever created.
And for over ten years it was redressed for many more films.
Down this hill they got Welsh extras apparently, so they say, to walk.
Many of the background actors, or extras, were Welshmen.
-I wonder where they found them. Did they advertise in Los Angeles for Welsh people?
Back then, Welsh actors seldom had lead roles,
even in films set in Wales.
The main characters were often played by English or Americans,
but How Green Was My Valley
marked the debut of a real life Welshman,
proper Welsh accent and all.
Could I have your attention, boys and girls?
Rhys Williams was originally hired as an accent coach.
But director John Ford gave him a role as a prizefighter,
helping start a career as a supporting actor that lasted for 27 years.
Now Matthew Rhys is one of the latest crop of Welsh actors making a career in Hollywood.
I'm very glad that there was a film 70 years ago about Wales,
because there was a little confusion as to where or what Wales was.
People went, "Wow, I didn't know your country's the same size as Connecticut."
I heard that so many times.
Oh yes! Oh, this is like St Mary Street on a Saturday night.
And the folksy style Irish dancing was as confused as the accents.
-Have you been down the collieries?
While I was studying.
-A bit of soap now.
-Oh, don't bother, please.
He's not even trying. "Oh, don't bother, please."
There are a number of us here playing Americans, Russians - we play anything.
However, when it comes to the press, we're always very proud
when we say where we're from.
It was actors from Wales that basked in the spotlight in the 50s and 60s.
We were starting to make a name for ourselves.
We saw Stanley Baker, and some of the greatest female actresses,
Rachel Roberts and Rachel Thomas, making their mark.
But it was one man from Pontrhydyfen who dominated the era.
You look at Richard Burton's films,
even though he's not playing a Welsh character,
there's still something particularly Welsh about the work he does in it.
And in 1959, a Welsh legend from Anglesey
Hugh Griffith, was proud to share his accent with the world
in his portrayal of an Arab sheikh in the epic, Ben Hur.
One wife? One God, that I can understand,
but one wife, that is not civilised. It is not generous.
He managed to bag an Oscar for this larger than life performance.
-Thank you, thank you!
It may have been a golden era for some of our actors in Hollywood,
but a familiar theme was still present.
Another 1959 film, Tiger Bay,
a critically acclaimed thriller set in Cardiff,
was yet again offset by the lack of big lead roles for Welsh actors.
But sometimes we can forgive such lapses.
Only Two Can Play, filmed in Swansea, saw Peter Sellers
portray a Welsh librarian - with a very convincing accent.
-You wouldn't do anything violent, would you?
Only I'd like to kiss you, you see, because...
I'm a great believer in first impressions myself.
Our greatest acting export, Richard Burton,
helped Cardiff filmmaker Jack Howells win an Oscar
for this documentary on Dylan Thomas in 1963.
Death wouldn't bother him.
After the first death, he said, "There is no other.
"Pity the living who are last alone.
"The dead in Hades have their host of friends."
Well, wherever he is, and somehow it can't be Hades...
you can bet that Dylan has his host of friends.
And it was Burton's unmistakable Welsh tones
that opened this epic, Zulu.
The Secretary of State for War has received the following despatch from Lord Chelmsford.
Actor and producer Stanley Baker sweated and laboured to create
this moving and heartfelt picture of a Welsh regiment
in the midst of the Anglo-Zulu war.
# ...spear points gleaming, see their warrior... #
Now we were fighting back using song as a weapon,
and Zulu is remembered as one of the greatest war films ever made.
-Come on, sing!
Back in modern day Hollywood, Torchwood's Eve Myles
is out to find the Welsh acting talent formally recognised on the Walk of Fame.
Spotted in London, one actor was whisked off to Hollywood
to give us our first ever red carpet victory.
Best Actor in 1946 for the film, The Lost Weekend.
This is Ray Milland's star. He was the first Welsh actor to ever win an Oscar.
He was born in Neath. So he came a long way.
And the land of song has produced some stars in the world of music.
This is Alec Templeton.
He was a blind composer and pianist from Cardiff who came over to America with his own show.
He memorised his scripts by having them repeated to him 20 times. Grafter.
And our biggest singing sensation seems to have made a bit of a name for himself.
-Tom Jones. Do you know Tom Jones?
-Great singer, good Welsh singer.
-OK, very good.
# Delilah! #
That's it, that's the one!
This is Anthony Hopkins' hand prints and feet prints.
He has huge feet. My God, he's got hands like a shovel!
Fantastic to see.
Oh, Elizabeth Taylor! Oh, oh, oh!
There's no Richard Burton star, which I can't quite understand or believe.
I'm looking around and I'm really impressed. It's quite phenomenal.
But there simply isn't enough Welsh names on this walk.
Where's the Bassey? Where's the Bassey, I ask?
Honest to God. Where's Catherine Zeta Jones?
Where's Eve Myles?
Back in the 1970s and 80s, Hollywood was largely ignoring Wales.
But by now we were set to forge our own path,
making the films we wanted to make about ourselves.
And one man was determined to throw off the past
and project a stark new view of modern Welsh life.
The man in charge is Karl Francis, the Welsh director,
one of the busiest and most versatile filmmakers of the moment.
Carl Francis broke away from the stereotypes.
He cast non-actors to portray real people.
Using Welsh farmers, coalminers and the unemployed,
his films projected a sense of realism and integrity that hadn't been seen before.
I think it's a damn shame we're not awarded the same benefits as other nations.
And there was one film that didn't figure on the Hollywood radar,
but showed that, despite the harsh realism of the era,
Wales hadn't lost its funny bone.
The Grand Slam.
I mean, that was a huge cultural moment, that show.
To see Welsh people be funny and, you know,
larger than life.
That's nice, that is, innit? Madame Rochas.
-What do you want that for?
-Buy it in France, man.
-What, waste drinking time? You must be joking.
I was asked to rewrite it a few years ago and I wouldn't touch it.
Were you? Oh, it's a classic. It's a classic.
-What I want you to remember is that we are ambassadors of Wales.
Wales had to keep shouting through the 80s to even get a look in.
And when it did, a familiar theme from the past re-emerged.
All I need is somewhere
I can have total isolation,
and above all, atmosphere.
Well, there's a friend of mine with a property in Wales.
We were back to the same plot as The Old Dark House 50 years earlier.
Go on Mr Kendall, I'm not easily frightened.
We were still seeing outsiders
coming to our dark, rain-soaked land,
and Wales was still a rather scary place to come.
-I seem to be lost.
-Hardly surprising in this godforsaken part of the world.
My husband's idea of a holiday.
I've almost forgotten what civilisation is like.
They're all like that around here.
And had the portrayal of the Welsh moved on? Possibly not.
I think that Wales and Welsh people in particular have always been
portrayed in quite a silly way sometimes.
It used to pain me that there were so few Welsh characters on screen,
never mind Welsh drama, just Welsh characters in other things.
They'd be very rare. And if they did appear,
they'd be stupid like Huw in EastEnders and things like that.
There's something wrong with this yoghurt.
It's not yoghurt. It's mayonnaise.
Oh, right. There we are then.
There may have been the odd exception,
but in the 1990s, Wales and the Welsh were on the up.
A Welshman, Anthony Hopkins, won an Oscar for this chilling performance.
A census taker once tried to test me.
I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. HE SLURPS
In 1994, we received our first Oscar nomination
for a Welsh language film, Hedd Wyn.
With all this newfound confidence in our culture,
it was time to explode the myths once and for all.
Now it was cool to be Welsh.
Were these homegrown hits helping demolish the stereotypes?
Or were these films building more new ones about the youth of Wales?
Every club is different, but in the Asylum it's the manager.
He has a string of home boys
dealing the pukka Es to the party people in the club.
Justin Kerrigan's Human Traffic was set in Cardiff,
but could easily have been set anywhere.
It simply told a story of urban youth,
capturing the zeitgeist of the time.
And the film didn't get hung up on whether it was being Welsh or not.
And a film starring Matthew Rhys, House Of America,
was to create a mash-up of Wales's past and reinvent it as cool Cumbria.
Here was disaffected Welsh youth
'that they had been burdened with.'
On Monday morning. You and me, boyo, we'll be getting up very early,
getting on the Harley and, with the rest of the rabble in the village,
we'll be going up to the opencast...
..to sign up for jobs as labourers.
We may have been mocking, but were we reinforcing old stereotypes?
You know, you had the miners and Tom Jones
'and there was that conflict of identity.'
Right, five pints of lager, two whiskies, five Scampi Fries.
'You have to get away from stereotypes of singing miners. They don't exist now.'
There's a new stereotype one battles against,
which is the depressed heroin-ridden,
That's the one that seems to be more prevalent now, in a way.
And there's a huge nostalgia for singing miners.
Whether they sang to that extent or not, I do not know.
At the turn of the new millennium,
we saw the stereotypes repackaged.
Once again, a lead character was not played by a Welsh actor.
And the bad accents were back...
Hello. Can't stop. Father sent me out for our supper.
..along with the singing.
And we sang...
..and we sang.
And we sang some more.
So, can we change some of the stereotypes that have stuck with us
since How Green Was My Valley?
And do we want to?
To be honest, 70 years ago, I would not expect an accurate representation.
Ten, 15 years ago, we were still getting cliched representations and probably will continue to.
It's the writers who will break those cliches.
They ultimately will give us our identity.
'There was an awful lot of people who think Welsh drama should be something called Daffodil,
'that explores the lives of Welsh people been Welsh all day long.'
-Some of that should exist. I'll write something like that one day.
You can't focus on one thing and say that is what Welsh drama is.
You have got to look at the whole thing. The whole picture and the picture is massive.
In the last few years, Wales, in all its variety,
has found its way onto the big screen.
Mr Nice followed the life of a notorious Welshman.
Welcome to California.
And here we had our very own Howard Marks played by, yes,
a real-live Welshman, Rhys Ifans.
I can hear you the other end of the field, man. It's not even on, Jim.
And in 2006, it was Howard Marks himself
who voiced the opening to this film
in true Richard Burton tradition.
With new digital methods of production,
anybody can make a movie and the Welsh did just that.
It may be crass, but these boys were representing a new generation to a worldwide audience.
Today, the internet and television are now having an even wider impact
than traditional cinema.
And Torchword is exploding across television screens in America and all around the world.
Wales is insane!
-If you're the best England has to offer, God help you.
With more and more TV and film now being made in Wales,
and new drama studios set to open in Cardiff Bay,
the film and TV production industry seems to be moving at a pace.
'We're working with Welsh actors,
'we're working with Welsh technical crews.'
It is a very well-oiled machine in South Wales, which is a good thing.
Kicked off by Doctor Who, Torchwood and other TV dramas,
there is a tangible impact on the ground and on screen.
Bring it on. The Doctor Who effect is amazing. It is providing an infrastructure,
it's providing technicians, it's providing a critical mass.
And is proving that we can make stuff of quality. It's a helluva thing.
All those jobs and departments, they are in Wales.
You don't have to think you have to travel. I think that is vital.
Yes, I think it is becoming the hub, which I am very proud of. And why not?
'I would love to see more stories actually about Wales'
and for us to actually put our life
'and our modern life on the screen in a way that is obviously Welsh.'
I'm not sure that Doctor Who and Torchwood are going to change things
in any way in that respect, but it is fantastic
that such a successful and high-quality production is associated with Wales.
And, since 1991, we have been celebrating our Welsh talent
at Bafta Cymru, our own Oscars.
What does the future hold for Wales on screen?
I saw a film recently called Submarine,
which I thought was probably one of the most beautiful depictions
of Wales. It was the Swansea Bay area and Barry and beautifully done.
'I think that is going to be a milestone in terms of Wales on film.'
You must be chuffed to bits with the film. It has done ready well.
Yes. It has done ready well. It has opened in America.
With Submarine's lead actor Craig Roberts also taking Wales to America
and Welsh locations featured in blockbusters like Harry Potter, Robin Hood and Ironclad,
it seems Wales does figure on the global radar.
And the future looks bright in Hollywood, too.
Martin Scorsese is planning to make a film about our own Richard Burton,
who at last looks set to get the recognition he deserves with a star on the Walk Of Fame.
Pioneered by William Haggar and continued by Torchwood,
we are making an impact across the pond and all around the world.
And, 100 years on, what can Wales learn from the original film pioneer?
It needs to embrace a very commercial, popcorn attitude.
We have to start adhering to what people want - make some money.
Make some money to make the other stuff.
# Get away from me
# Get away from you
# What I want to see
# What I want to do
# I'm going to live in Hollywood
# Bet you thought I never could
# Went to the neighbourhood
# I want to live in Hollywood. #
As Torchwood gets the Hollywood treatment, a look back at the films that have portrayed Wales over the years, stereotypes, cliches and all. Russell T Davies visits the Malibu Park which 70 years ago doubled as South Wales in How Green Was My Valley. Eve Myles takes a trip down the Walk of Fame to find the Welsh stars who have made their mark in Hollywood. Plus two rabbit-stealing men from Maesteg who helped change the face of Hollywood movies.