The Savoy Blog
That Hamilton Woman: A Re-appraisal
A couple of years ago the Nelson Museum asked if we could find any dramatic work about Emma Hamilton to stage to mark the 200th anniversary of her death. Long story short: there aren’t any. So that ot us thinking and we have been and still are developing a new play about Emma Hamilton to premiere hopefully next year. In the meantime there has been a huge retrospective exhibition about her at Greenwich and a clutch of new books. Undoubtedly one of the best is BELOVED EMMA by Flora Fraser and we were delighted when Flora accepted an invitation to come to Monmouth and talk as part of this year’s Literary Festival. She will be speaking on Sunday 25th at 2pm Tickets £5. If thee is a linked theme to the two speakers we have this weekend, it is that both the women they will talk about have been very badly treated by history and it is time now to re-appraise them both.
My Heart is Bleeding
There aren’t many people around now who saw Dorothy Squires in her pomp. So it’s hard to believe that in the latter part of the 1950’s and early 1960’s she was a huge star topping the Palladium and appearing in every major concert hall all over the UK. She was not however the most forgiving of stars and made enemies. Slowly but surely her star waned and by the 1980’s she cut a sorry figure embroiled in litigation against Radio 2 and fighting bankruptcy orders. In her heydays amongst those who appeared regularly on her bills was a song and dance man from South Wales called Johnny Tudor. Johnny has always wanted to tell her story. Being a theatre man at heart he wrote a play with his friend and award winning author Meic Povey. It starred Ruth Madoc as Dorothy Squires. There were hopes for a wider showing of the play but it was not to be, so Johnny put pen to paper and has produced the definitive biography of the star: My Heart is Bleeding. As an old friend of Johnny’s (and someone who had the scary pleasure of meeting the real Dorothy Squires in 1994) it seemed an ideal opportunity to give Dorothy one last outing on a stage slightly less glamorous than the ones she adorned in her pomp but nevertheless….So he will be talking about her life (and her marriage to Mr Moore) on Saturday 25th at 2.00pm. Here they are together outside the Capitol Cinema in Cardiff in 1974. (Love those sideburns – and the prices!)
Location, Location, Location
There’s no doubt that there is added interest in a film if it links with the location it is shown in. This week we have THEIR FINEST, a WW2 film set in London, Devon and Dunkirk. It was filmed mainly in Wales, Pembrokeshire to be precise. The investment in the picture by Ffilm Cymru dictates, very wisely, that a portion of the funding should come back to Wales by virtue of using Welsh locations and labour. That doesn’t unfortunately apply to the on screen talent. The only vestige there of a Welsh connection is Gemma Arterton’s rather all purpose Welsh accent (Ebbw Vale?).
The new film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was also filmed in Wales, mainly around Capel Curig and other parts of Snowdonia but a small section was filmed on the Doward, close to Monmouth.
The big winner in recent years has been Puzzlewood in Coleford because it was used extensively in the last (proper) Star Wars film and can clearly be identified. The Wye Valley and FOD Tourism Assoc has milked that connection for all it’s worth, and the worth turned out to be pretty spectacular. Every “May 4th be with you,” is an opportunity for a timely reminder.
So the moral of the story is that we need the next James Bond film to involve a chase sequence up Monnow Street culminating ina fight to the death on the roof of Shire Hall. Bring it on!
Cinema Royalty in our midst
Monmouth is home to a very famous showbiz family – The Gregsons. Richard Gregson, who lives just outside the town was in his time a very high flying agent. He represented the author Frederick Forsyth and was Robert Redford’s UK agent. But his biggest connection with Hollywood was when he made a business trip there in 1967 and met, fell in love with and subsequently married a young actress called Natalie Wood. She was already a big star thanks to films like West Side Story. That catapulted him into the realm of the Rat Pack and he regularly found himself in the company of Mr Sinatra and his cohorts. They had a daughter called Natalie Gregson Wagner, who is also an actress. Richard was also involved in film production and writing.
His younger brother is called Michael and he began acting in 1949. He changed his professional surname to Craig and the older readers of this blog will be well aware that Michael Craig was one of the most prolific film and TV actors of the 50’s 60’s and 70’s. He was in a huge number of British films such as Campbell’s Kingdom, The Silent Enemy, Mysterious Island, Doctor in Love and Modesty Blaise amongst others. His TV work dates back to Emergency Ward 10 which is ironic as one of his last TV appearances was in the BBC soap Doctors about six years ago. One of his most memorable TV roles was in the soap Triangle about the dramas on a cross channel ferry which co-starred Larry Lamb and Kate O’Mara and ran for three years in the early 80’s. These days Michael lives in central Monmouth.