52 Welsh film facts

Black and white photograph of Paul Robeson taken in 1958

Black and white photograph of Paul Robeson taken in 1958.

  1. British silent-era star Queenie Thomas (1898-1977) was a pupil at Canton High School, Cardiff - now the site of Chapter Arts Centre. She made more than 30 films, often as lead, then enjoyed a second career as Gloria Gaye, leader of a wartime all-female dance band.
  2. Welsh international football star Billy Meredith, formerly with Manchester United and Manchester City, had a lead role in a fiction feature Ball Of Fortune (1926). Only about a minute is known to survive, featuring Meredith in a mazy dribble.
  3. When a 1928 film about venereal disease, The Dangers Of Ignorance, was first screened in Cardiff, men and women spectators were segregated and had to attend separate screenings.
  4. Unemployed miners at Blaenavon, Gwent, made their own film - With The Aid Of A Rogue in 1928 - about an 18th century aristocratic highwayman!
  5. The first part-talkie shown in Wales was The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson, at Cardiff's Queen's cinema in 1928. The first full talkie - again at the Queen's - was Jolson's The Singing Fool in 1929.
  6. The first talkie made in Hollywood but entirely set in Wales was James Whale's 1932 black comedy The Old Dark House, starring Melvyn Douglas and Boris Karloff.
  7. The first Welsh-language talkie fiction film was Y Chwarelwr (The Quarryman) made in 1934 by Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards, founder of Urdd Gobaith Cymru (The Welsh League of Youth) and father of S4C's first controller Owen Edwards.
  8. The Cardiff Board of Catholic Action declared war on immoral films in 1934, advising parishioners to boycott films they considered unwholesome.
  9. Rhys Williams, who played Dai Bando, was the only Welsh actor in a significant role in Hollywood's How Green Was My Valley (1941). It won five Oscars - including Best Film and Best Director (John Ford).
  10. Paul Robeson's favourite of all his British films was Proud Valley (1940), a mining drama set in south Wales and directed by Pen Tennyson, an old Etonian and great-grandson of the poet.

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