The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

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George White
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The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

I am a fan of this. You know in US TV when they go to England, and its clearly a backlot full of ex-pats and bad accents
Columbo Dagger of the Mind, a jarring mix of real London and backlot, John Fraser and Honor Blackman and Richard Pearson with the US Brits like Bernard Fox, John Williams and Arthur Malet
All of the latter appear in the godawful 1972 Hound of the Baskervilles with Stewart Granger. Only if the West Country was the rio grande and a cowboy village on a papier-mache moor with William Shatner and Fox doing a Nigel Bruce stars in your eyes impression.
mURDER She Wrote
Magnum went to England and had the likes of Julian Glover and Peter Davison.
Of course, Frasier, but thats really British characters in the US with cockney Mancunians and so on.
And the Guy Siner-starring US kidvid Return to the Secret Garden, set in Yorkshire, filmed in Carolina;s Biltmore, but featuring a scene featuring the nearest airport, Heathrow, a chauffeur ride away and American kids doing cockeernee-aussie accents.
And don't get me started on Northern Ireland in Captain Planet or Six Million Dollar Man in the NI substitute of Balinderry, real stock footage of Belfast mixed into the desert locale of 'Crego County'.
What are yers?

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by GarethR »

I like stuff that's genuinely shot in the UK, but doesn't bother about getting the geography right. The first Johnny English film has a car chase where the vehicles are in completely different parts of central London from shot to shot, and the second Garfield movie has York stand in for London for any scene where the characters don't need to be standing in front of London landmarks, although I only noticed this thanks to one particular shot that opens out wide enough to reveal Woodsmill Quay in the background - the street otherwise looked exactly like a typical nondescript London backstreet.

IIRC the deservedly-forgotten Bill Murray vehicle The Man Who Knew Too Little has a car chase that begins in the West End and after just a couple of minutes concludes on the flyover in Croydon.

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Don Satchley
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Don Satchley »

For me the film Unleashed with Jet Li has some very unrealistic UK locations. I haven't had it confirmed but it appears to be shot in the US and the outside scenes just seem like they were shot in Burbank studios or Universal backlot.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

Don Satchley wrote:For me the film Unleashed with Jet Li has some very unrealistic UK locations. I haven't had it confirmed but it appears to be shot in the US and the outside scenes just seem like they were shot in Burbank studios or Universal backlot.
Done partly in France
Green Street 2 was set in a British prison filmed in a US detention centre, sandy court, palm trees, orange guantanmo jumpsuits, Vernon Wells as an aussie governor in a galleon-style office. Royal Prison Service not HMP, dubious accents

Cole
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Cole »

The 1970's London-based John Wayne movie Branagan has the villain driving through central London in his Rolls. The route taken would have meant he'd driven some absurd backwards and forwards journey.

A further car chase also showed that Tower Bridge is next to Wandsworth Common.

Not a film but there was an issue of Spectacular Spideman, from the 90's, where Spidey travels to London. The issue presented London as if it were still the 1950s: flat caps, Bowler hats and fog also people saying, "top hole", "Guvenor" and "I say!"

Worst of all was the terrible representation of a London Routemaster-style Bus which Sal Bucema clearly drew from memory. It looked more like a removal lorry. Was a reference picture really too much of an effort?

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

Cole wrote:The 1970's London-based John Wayne movie Branagan has the villain driving through central London in his Rolls. The route taken would have meant he'd driven some absurd backwards and forwards journey.

A further car chase also showed that Tower Bridge is next to Wandsworth Common.

Not a film but there was an issue of Spectacular Spideman, from the 90's, where Spidey travels to London. The issue presented London as if it were still the 1950s: flat caps, Bowler hats and fog also people saying, "top hole", "Guvenor" and "I say!"

Worst of all was the terrible representation of a London Routemaster-style Bus which Sal Buscema clearly drew from memory. It looked more like a removal lorry. Was a reference picture really too much of an effort?
Well, Brannigan was made in Uk, but all the better, because it has a scene in which the Duke throws Tony Robinson into the Thames!
Yeh, US comics always have inaccuracies. That Batman issue (refelcting the Londinium ep to a tee of the AdamWest series( with tached inspectors going i say, mod photgraphers and a British horror film about a Ripper-style killer. Bat-Squad! And the us-created Captain Britain comics, the originals, pre-Alan Moore with a badly-drawn Jim Callaghan and Trimpe only chosen as artist because he once lived in England for a month or so...Knight and Fogg, two Scouse crims were the villains of that spidey issue.

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Shaqui
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Shaqui »

A long time since I've seen it but wasn't the 1960s Batman story 'The Londinium Larcenies' pretty dire?

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Juswuh »

Shaqui wrote:A long time since I've seen it but wasn't the 1960s Batman story 'The Londinium Larcenies' pretty dire?
It's on ITV4 early next Monday morning! And I don't think its depiction of London was particularly bad as the Batman TV show went (third season, too, when the show was about as cheaply made as humanly possible...)

George White
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

Shaqui wrote:A long time since I've seen it but wasn't the 1960s Batman story 'The Londinium Larcenies' pretty dire?
It was a parody of bad portrayls of London, so...
Any more. Wonderwoman, you could see Hollywood hills behind Heathrow.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Juswuh »

Not strictly a depiction of Britain, but an episode of Knots Landing c.1981 featured an "English rock band" called Cosmic Steeple dressed in mod gear c.1966.

Cole
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Cole »

There's also Syfy's Stonehenge Apocolypse; for the twenty minutes I saw, the South-West had adopted driving on the opposite side of the road. Oh, also the A303 had been removed.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Cole »

George White wrote:Knight and Fogg, two Scouse crims were the villains of that spidey issue.
That's the one. I think I could have recalled Fogg's name but not Knight.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

you're kidding me! Oh no I believe you!

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

Cole wrote:There's also Syfy's Stonehenge Apocolypse; for the twenty minutes I saw, the South-West had adopted driving on the opposite side of the road. Oh, also the A303 had been removed.
Salisbury Plain has its own school. Seemingly a town.
Old Land Rover is the own British Army vehicle. Weird Brummie-West Country-Irish-Scottish-Northern accent from Colonel.

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Shaqui
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Shaqui »

George White wrote:
Shaqui wrote:A long time since I've seen it but wasn't the 1960s Batman story 'The Londinium Larcenies' pretty dire?
It was a parody of bad portrayls of London, so...
Oh. Parody. Right. :-P

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Simon Coward »

I think the whole car journeys thing can be a bit of a red herring - particularly if the point of origin and/or destination are made-up locations.

Fictionalising routes like that is nothing new and certainly not limited to international movies shooting in the UK. You only have to look at something like The Prisoner, where many of the mini-moke journeys in The Village are, from a Portmeirion point of view, either non-nonsensical, impossible or both. And something like Hustle would have people walking down a Birmingham street and then discovering a bit of London at the end of it.
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George White
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

Simon Coward wrote:I think the whole car journeys thing can be a bit of a red herring - particularly if the point of origin and/or destination are made-up locations.

Fictionalising routes like that is nothing new and certainly not limited to international movies shooting in the UK. You only have to look at something like The Prisoner, where many of the mini-moke journeys in The Village are, from a Portmeirion point of view, either non-nonsensical, impossible or both. And something like Hustle would have people walking down a Birmingham street and then discovering a bit of London at the end of it.
sIMON, WHAT IS YOUR NOMINATION as a particularly unconvicning depiction of the British Isles?

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Juswuh »

Watching Naked City on DVD I've noticed the same bits of location footage turning up in car rides all around New York.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Simon Coward »

George White wrote:
Simon Coward wrote:I think the whole car journeys thing can be a bit of a red herring - particularly if the point of origin and/or destination are made-up locations.

Fictionalising routes like that is nothing new and certainly not limited to international movies shooting in the UK. You only have to look at something like The Prisoner, where many of the mini-moke journeys in The Village are, from a Portmeirion point of view, either non-nonsensical, impossible or both. And something like Hustle would have people walking down a Birmingham street and then discovering a bit of London at the end of it.
sIMON, WHAT IS YOUR NOMINATION as a particularly unconvicning depiction of the British Isles?
It's not quite the same thing, but something like The Avengers is just as far removed from the real GB - and a not too-dissimilar mixture of location and backlot - as the examples you quoted at the start of the thread. And they did it like that every week, not just for one story/episode.

Now obviously The Avengers was doing this intentionally, it wasn't just the best they could [be bothered to] do under the circumstances - but it's just as inaccurate.
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

Simon Coward wrote:
George White wrote:
Simon Coward wrote:I think the whole car journeys thing can be a bit of a red herring - particularly if the point of origin and/or destination are made-up locations.

Fictionalising routes like that is nothing new and certainly not limited to international movies shooting in the UK. You only have to look at something like The Prisoner, where many of the mini-moke journeys in The Village are, from a Portmeirion point of view, either non-nonsensical, impossible or both. And something like Hustle would have people walking down a Birmingham street and then discovering a bit of London at the end of it.
sIMON, WHAT IS YOUR NOMINATION as a particularly unconvicning depiction of the British Isles?
It's not quite the same thing, but something like The Avengers is just as far removed from the real GB - and a not too-dissimilar mixture of location and backlot - as the examples you quoted at the start of the thread. And they did it like that every week, not just for one story/episode.

Now obviously The Avengers was doing this intentionally, it wasn't just the best they could [be bothered to] do under the circumstances - but it's just as inaccurate.
Is it no coincidence Avengers director John Moxey directed several episodes of MurderSheWrote including one Brit-set (suitably Avengerland, with Pat MacNee, music hall attended by punk couple) encounter, Sing a Song of Murder.

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Don Satchley
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Don Satchley »

This may not count but wasn't Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory set in Britain? I remember when first watching it as a nipper that the locations seemed foreign. Switzerland or Austria I guess. For me though this added to the mystery of the film at the time.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

It's set in a neverworld. Charlie and his family are yanks, it's filmed in Munich, there are American students but the teacher is David Battley, who is British and Aubrey Woods is Brit, but the tinker was German, and the remake is the same, British architecture, a mix of accents, dollars, American slang
from Tvtropes.org
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is set somewhere in Britain (probably London), but thanks to Willy Wonka being played by Americans in both movie versions (and Charlie being played by one in the first), it's very ambiguous.
This is intentional for at least the first movie. In the DVD extras, the director states that they left the location of the factory ambiguous so that kids could think it was anywhere and then it could be mysterious and exciting.
The actual filming location was Munich, Bavaria, West Germany, for budget reasons and the location of the actual factory chimneys seen. Also, they liked how "storybook" the town looked, giving it a fantasy/timeless feel.
In the book, Charlie finds a dollar in the gutter in the American edition, but a 50p in the UK edition.

The second movie deliberately invoked this too, with a setting designed to look like America to English audiences, and England to American audiences

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Swami Barmi »

A bit OT I guess, but I listen to a lot of old radio shows and for some reason, in the 30s and 40s there were an awful lot of shows that took place in Britain. A lot of VERY bad accents in those even to these less-than-entirely-keen Yank ears.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

You mean like the Rathbone-Bruce Sherlock Holmes series and radio show? The films are mad enough, although the original two Fox films had specially built reconstructions of the moor and the London streets, the cheaper Universal series made do with the backlot being used for London, Northumbria, French Canada, docklands, etc...

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Mark C Bale
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Mark C Bale »

What about the worst British depictions of America?

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Lostinmyownworld »

Mentioning the Magnum special brings back memories of sheer awfulness. One scene in particular features Magnum waiting for a train at Marylebone station. As he's standing on the concourse an awful fake annuncement using an american actress doing her best cod Mary Poppins voice is heard. She starts the announcement with "The train now standing at track 11....", the sheer ignorance of it. Also what the hell was Peter Davison thinking of, surely he must have done this for the money rather than career advancement?

Another awful Tom Selleck vehicle is the movie "Three Men and A little Lady" set in England. Just about every possible American cliche of Britain is used, such as public schools that are more like castles, everyone either lives in London or little villages with thatched cottages populated by "eccentric" villagers. Everyone either speaks like a member of the royal family, a country bumpkin of a cor blimey cockney. Plus a silly little brand new britsh car (a 1990 mini) that breaks down several times almost to imply that we build stupid pointless little comedy vehicles.

Rant over. It's my first post on here so please be gentle with me. I was a lurker on the old forum for many years but decided to take the plunge and sign up.

George White
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

Oh yes, but Columbo has a mockney tramp stagehand saying 'Right proper gracious of yer' and the director who looks like a tanned Jasper Carrott with Mick Robertson's hair refers to getting 'smashed' when Richard Basehart gets drunk.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Swami Barmi »

George White wrote:You mean like the Rathbone-Bruce Sherlock Holmes series and radio show?
No . . . it's been a few months so I don't remember the specific series, but these were Suspense shows like Escape, Suspense, and others like them. It was bizarre because none of the stories were tied in any significant way to the location. It just seems like people here must have had a fascination with Britain at the time.
Lostinmyownworld wrote:Plus a silly little brand new britsh car (a 1990 mini) that breaks down several times almost to imply that we build stupid pointless little comedy vehicles.
That reminds me of a joke we used to say when I was stationed near Ipswich: Why do the English drink warm beer? Lucas refrigerators. Guffaw, guffaw! Mind you, I had endless trouble with my Minis and my Triumph Herald whenever it rained. I could never keep the distributor and coil from keeping dry. As far as the beer went though, I was one of the guys who was spending as much time in the pubs as possible! Adnams, Greene King, and Tolly Cobbold!

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Shaqui
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Shaqui »

Simon Coward wrote:It's not quite the same thing, but something like The Avengers is just as far removed from the real GB - and a not too-dissimilar mixture of location and backlot - as the examples you quoted at the start of the thread. And they did it like that every week, not just for one story/episode.

Now obviously The Avengers was doing this intentionally, it wasn't just the best they could [be bothered to] do under the circumstances - but it's just as inaccurate.
Talking of stylised direction-taking and backlots, the one that hit me after visiting Pinewood was the chase scene at the beginning of the UFO episode 'Timelash'. Straker runs out of the building, turns one way... then ultimately climbs a ladder which is actually around the opposite corner of the same building to find the unconscious Colonel Lake! Talk about the scenic route!

Obviously if you didn't know Pinewood, it isn't obvious but if you do, you're left feeling 'Waaaaiittt a minute...'!

:-P

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Brian F »

Mark C Bale wrote:What about the worst British depictions of America?
How about Battersea Power Station being in Gotham City in one of the recent Batman films - no wonder Gordon didn't get there in time!!

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