52 Welsh film facts

Black and white photograph of Ivor Novello taken in 1935

Black and white photograph of Ivor Novello taken in 1935.

  1. The oldest surviving film of an international soccer match is Wales v Ireland 1906, a 4-4 draw at Wrexham. It was made by Blackburn's Mitchell and Kenyon Company, which hit the headlines in the early 2000s when scenes of scores of their films, rediscovered in the 1990s, featured on BBC TV and DVD.
  2. The most famous of all lost Welsh silent films A Welsh Singer (1915) featured Florence Turner, formerly the biggest star of America's Vitagraph company (then the USA's biggest film exporters). It was adapted from a best selling novel by west Walian "Allen Raine' (born Anna Adeliza Evans).
  3. The Rhondda's world flyweight boxing champion Jimmy Wilde - 'The Ghost With a Hammer in His Hand' - played the lead in a British feature The Pitboy's Romance (1917).
  4. The 152-minute silent epic The Life Story of David Lloyd George (1918), about the prime minister known as the 'Welsh Wizard', was rediscovered in 1994 after 76 years as a lost film. The film, the longest British movie of its day but never shown at the time, finally enjoyed a world première in Cardiff in 1996.
  5. The only known surviving cinema newsreel footage of the aftermath of Britain's biggest mining disaster at Senghenydd in 1913 appears within a documentary made in 1964 by James Clark, one of Britain's best known film editors.
  6. The Investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon in 1911 was made in experimental Kinemacolor by London's Charles Urban Company. Only black and white versions are known to survive.
  7. The biggest film studio in Britain in the early 1920s was run by Oswald Stoll, who controlled The Empire music halls in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea screening films back in 1896. He also introduced Edison's Kinetoscope 'peepshow machine' showing movies at Cardiff's Philharmonic Hall in 1894.
  8. Actor, writer and lyricist Ivor Novello (David Ivor Davies) starred in two films for Alfred Hitchcock: The Lodger (1926) and Downhill (1927).
  9. Ivor Novello (1893-1951) was Britain's biggest male box office star of the late 1920s and his film The Rat (1925) helped save the Gainsborough company, under Michael Balcon (later famous for the Ealing Studio comedies), from bankruptcy.
  10. Llanelli's Gareth Hughes (1894-1965) starred or played leading character roles in more than 30 Hollywood films and earned $2,000 a week in the early 1920s. He never made a British film and his most acclaimed feature Sentimental Tommy (1921) from JM Barrie stories, is long lost.

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