The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

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

Post by GarethR »

Nick Cooper 625 wrote: You flatter me, as it's not particularly "specialist knowledge" at all
Yes it is. That doesn't mean it's on the level of dissecting mitochondrial DNA, but it also doesn't mean it's information that the average person on the street should be expected to know. Would you think it fair of me to assume that everybody knows the difference between a Jeep TJ, XJ, ZJ and KJ and the various models of each? It's that sort of territory - there are a lot of people in the world who know, and they'll mostly be Jeep enthusiasts, but they are utterly dwarfed by the billions more who don't have a clue.
There are a (very) few subjects of which I might be classed as a world/leading expert, but this ain't one of them!
Who said anything about needing to be a world or leading expert? That doesn't alter the fact that most viewers wouldn't immediately know how to differentiate between American and British military equipment.
Most Scots would recognise the recruiting incongruity
Based purely on the unscientific study I carried out with the Scots I work with here, where none of them picked up on it, I would query "most". I suspect those Scots that know or care enough about the military to know that the Royal Scots are unlikely to recruit outside Scotland would - but would that equal "most Scots"?
as would a awful lot of people in or with connections to the British Army as a whole
Yep, exactly as I mentioned previously - you'd expect people like that to notice. But that's still a very small percentage of people compared to even the total UK (never mind global) viewership of Lost.
You could also flip it round and say many Americans (especially the gun enthusiasts) - and those of other nations - would also wonder why a American soldier would be on a British recruiting poster.
You're just reinforcing my own argument :)
Honesty, Gareth, this isn't just background set-dressing, it's an important part of the plot.
And honestly, Nick, you're obsessing over a level of detail that most viewers would never pick up on. If you *genuinely* think that *most* viewers are au fait enough with military equipment that they would immediately notice the mistake, and that people like me who have no idea about what uniforms and weapons the UK and American military currently use are in the minority, then there's no answer to that, other than for me to say that I think you're completely wrong.

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Bob Richardson
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Bob Richardson »

Spotting mistakes in films can often be a consequence of personal interest in one small aspect. My obsession is typefaces, so when I see the Helvetica typeface used in a chemist's shop window ("Dandelion Dead") in a drama set before the Second World War my hackles rise. Why? Because it breaks the spell and my "involvement" in the drama is interrupted by something that clearly isn't right.

This blog Wrong Fonts inthe Movies describes the kind of thing that often catches my eye. Most of you won't even see these "problems" but with tens of thousands of typefaces available to graphic designers it really shouldn't be hard to find one that fits the period. A quick check in The Encyclopaedia of Typefaces will give the original issue date for most faces that are likely to be used in a film. It's rather more difficult to date with precision the launch date of a sewing machine, lawn mower or introduction of electricity in Twickenham - although somebody watching will almost certainly know.
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by brigham »

Essentially, then; you can be as sloppy as you like because most people don't notice. Those that do can always be lumped into one or more demeaning stereotypes.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by ctraynor »

Hear, hear. Justice for pedants.

I guess we've all got our limits as to what's acceptably accurate or inaccurate, whether in Battle of Britain (BoB), or Lost. In BoB (pronounced Bob) it never bothered me that the German plane engines were apparently not the right engine sound due to all being on loan from the Spanish Air Force. There's a limit to what we can expect from film-makers in these things.

That electric doorbell and pull-up garage door on Robert Shaw's house in 1940 still niggle, though.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by ayrshireman »

As has been said though, who really cares? I'm quite happy Americans to think of us with bowler-hats and canes and constantly sipping tea.
IMO such stereotypes are not harmless (and I include stereotypes going the other way). They create and reinforce over time lazy stereotypes and ultimately distortion and prejudice towards a country and a people. Our stereotyped view of America as a gun toting, violent society, a stereotype partly created by and reinforced by film and TV, surely affects our opinions and our understanding of a very current issue like US gun control and gun violence. Our idea of anyone to the Right in America being some sort of Bible thumpin' loon who sees black helicopters gives us a distorted view of the actual political make-up of the United States, or how religion is actually practiced in the US.

And American stereotyped views of Britain, as a rather effete quaint little nation with castles, Harry Potter, the Queen and 'cute accents', tea and bowler hats, surely affect the average Yank's knowledge and understanding of what Britain's incredible contribution to the world has been. IMO its a short hop skip and jump from seeing us as tea drinking effetes with bad teeth and pasty skin, to thinking that cute little island off France dosent do much, and stood by drinking tea while America won two world wars.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by ayrshireman »

Those exciting World War II movies Where Eagles Dare, and Eye of the Needle. Helicopters in the Second World War!
Nothing wrong there.
People seem to think helicopters didnt exist until about 1965 and Vietnam.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by ctraynor »

ayrshireman wrote:
Those exciting World War II movies Where Eagles Dare, and Eye of the Needle. Helicopters in the Second World War!
Nothing wrong there.
People seem to think helicopters didnt exist until about 1965 and Vietnam.
I didn't think that, but I'd be interested to know to what extent they were operational during the 1939-45 war.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by ayrshireman »

The Nazis did use helicopters in small numbers during World War II for observation, transport, and medical evacuation. The Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri synchropter was used in the Mediterranean, while the Focke Achgelis Fa 223 Drache was used in Europe. Allied bombing of course prevented Germany from producing any helicopters in large quantities during the war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_he ... rld_War_II


Short answer, helicopters were used in WW2, but not in large numbers. But they were used by all major sides, so the use in the films quoted is not incongruous.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by ctraynor »

That's interesting. Thanks for the info. Still think Where Eagles Dare is Star Wars in WW2 for a few other reasons of plausibility, but Eye of the Needle has gone back up in my estimation.

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

Post by robinsmith »

NuWho has Wales doubling as a dodgy version on London....

Wasn't 'Highlander' a French co-production, with episodes filed over here and France? It certainly had it's share of British thesps, and Roger Daltry.....

Talking of the French....the US view of the French, in the film 'Slap Her She's French' is very entertaining...

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

Post by Mickey »

It was a Canadian/French production, yes. Episodes were filmed in both Canada and France, but not, as far as I know, in Britain. They'd ship the British guest stars over to France for a day or two and film there. Something to do with the French union, possibly - it was renowned for being awkward over this, that and the other.

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Nick Cooper 625
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

ctraynor wrote:I guess we've all got our limits as to what's acceptably accurate or inaccurate, whether in Battle of Britain (BoB), or Lost. In BoB (pronounced Bob) it never bothered me that the German plane engines were apparently not the right engine sound due to all being on loan from the Spanish Air Force. There's a limit to what we can expect from film-makers in these things.
IIRC, the same applies to some of the Spitfires, them having more modern aero engines than the RR Merlins they should have been.
That electric doorbell and pull-up garage door on Robert Shaw's house in 1940 still niggle, though.
I've always thought it so jarring that there must have been a reason why they ended up using it - maybe they had to switch locations at the last minute, or something.
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The Wooksta!
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by The Wooksta! »

IIRC, there were two Griffon engined Spitfire PR19s (on loan from the BBMF) as crowd fillers either on the ground or in the flight scenes. Many of the others were either Mk Vs (Merlin 45) or mk IXs (Merlin 61) plus at least one low back mk XVI (Packard Merlin built under licence in the US) which had been modified with a false spine to fit in with the others. There was one Mk II Spitfire which currently flies with the BBMF. All of them had their cannon barrels removed as they'd stand out although there were some cannon armed Spitfire Ib and IIbs flying during the battle.

If you know your Spitfires, you can spot which one is a fake, or at least a later mark. If it's got six stub exhausts and a four blade prop, it's a IX or a XVI. Micheal Caine gets to fly one.

It was really a case of the film makers using what they had available at the time. They gathered together as many flightworthy Spitfires and Hurricanes as they could, plus quite a few as ground runners (ie could taxi rather than fly). Some of the Spanish built Messerschmitts and one Heinkel were flown to the UK, the rest were filmed on location, with Spain doubling as France.

Ditto 633 Squadron. They used the last remaining flightworthy Mosquitos - at least 3 TT35s (converted from B.35 bombers) and two T3s. The former had their noses painted over and fake machine guns added to make them look like Mosquito FB6 fighter bombers. With the exception of those blown up during filming, all of them currently survive because of the film. T3 TW117 is in Oslo, one one of the TT35s is in the US owned by Kermit Weeks with another residing at the Mosquito Museum at Salisbury Hall. The cockpit section used for the in flight scenes was used to help restore a Mosquito NFII.
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Clive »

I am currently watching the B-horror-movie "The Deaths of Ian Stone" and there is a certain feeling that the script writer and set designer assumed that the movie was to be filmed in the US and at the last minute they moved the production to the UK.

I am only 40 minutes into it, but it started up with an all-American ice hockey game followed by the main-man driving off in a Jeep to a typical American suburban house. At which point I noticed a 2006 DVLC tax disk on the front windscreen of the Jeep. The film then switches to a UK setting for no real reason I can think of, except for cheaper filming locations ???

EDIT >> I am about to give up now that we have had a 'cor-blimey' taxi driver. It is a weird film, only from the perspective that it is obviously filmed in the UK, but they have chosen the most US like locations to film the scenes... US type elevators, railroad crossings, external fire escapes... etc

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

Post by Cole »

While I was watching Cemetery Junction, on BBC Two last night, I found myself scanning the street scenes looking for anachronisms. It's all very well having a blatant in-your-face mistake but when one is actively looking then it's gone a bit far...

Anyway, back on topic: there are occasions when a depiction is perfectly passable even though it's obvious that it wasn't filmed in the UK. I recently re-watched The X-Files episode Fire where the British Minister is set alight in his front garden. We all know it wasn't filmed in the UK but it was a passable depiction of an English country house. Maybe the secret is to not be so ambitious and let the sub-title do all the work for you.

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

Post by ayrshireman »

Ah, the X-Files.

Which had Leeds as a major port city in one episode....

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

Clive wrote:I am currently watching the B-horror-movie "The Deaths of Ian Stone" and there is a certain feeling that the script writer and set designer assumed that the movie was to be filmed in the US and at the last minute they moved the production to the UK.

I am only 40 minutes into it, but it started up with an all-American ice hockey game followed by the main-man driving off in a Jeep to a typical American suburban house. At which point I noticed a 2006 DVLC tax disk on the front windscreen of the Jeep. The film then switches to a UK setting for no real reason I can think of, except for cheaper filming locations ???

EDIT >> I am about to give up now that we have had a 'cor-blimey' taxi driver. It is a weird film, only from the perspective that it is obviously filmed in the UK, but they have chosen the most US like locations to film the scenes... US type elevators, railroad crossings, external fire escapes... etc
Did you get as far as the London Undeground scene?!
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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by stevep »

The extra bits the Americans did to pad out our "Thriller" episodes always made me laugh. You'd have someone arrive in an American car, then creep up to a rural American clapboard house, walk up onto the porch (this is all supposed to be in Berkshire, you know), open the screen door... and...

BANG....

straight onto a set at Elstree

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Tilt Araiza »

I just remembered one from the series Dead Like Me, featuring characters who collect the souls of the dying. In some cases we get to see what the dying person sees, which is essentially their personal heaven. In one episode a character is collecting the soul of an Irishman, so naturally his heaven is seeing the White Cliffs of Dover, while the soundtrack strikes up with "Scotland The Brave".

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by boblet »

George White wrote: 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.
Just been on ITV3, with the added bonus of Jessica Fletcher's English cousin...who is also her double!

Besides the UK locations being obviously redressed US ones (and 2nd unit shots of the New Scotland Yard sign accompanied by American telephones and "ner-ner" sirens), what on Earth was going on with the accents? Admittedly Angela Lansbury has been resident in the States for a good few years, but that's no excuse for the Scouse/Mancunian accent she adopts along with the use of words like "geezer". And as for Patrick MacNee's Scots/Yorkshire hybrid...

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

Cor any more? Escape from the Planet of the Apes shows British newsreaders sit in offices with Union Jacks hung in background and the newsreaders are long-haired young Frost types.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

stevep wrote:The extra bits the Americans did to pad out our "Thriller" episodes always made me laugh. You'd have someone arrive in an American car, then creep up to a rural American clapboard house, walk up onto the porch (this is all supposed to be in Berkshire, you know), open the screen door... and...

BANG....

straight onto a set at Elstree
Sounds enjoyable, are they on the Network dvd?

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

Tilt Araiza wrote:I just remembered one from the series Dead Like Me, featuring characters who collect the souls of the dying. In some cases we get to see what the dying person sees, which is essentially their personal heaven. In one episode a character is collecting the soul of an Irishman, so naturally his heaven is seeing the White Cliffs of Dover, while the soundtrack strikes up with "Scotland The Brave".
I'm Irish. I think Scotland the Brave is a great anthem, better than the deeedle-de-deeee Irish anthem (altogether now sinnnerrrrr fiaaannnnaaaaa faaaaaaalllll!)

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

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George White wrote: Sounds enjoyable, are they on the Network dvd?
The Network DVD includes all the US opening and closing title sequences as extras at the end of each episode. Several of them have to be seen to be believed.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Clive »

I spent a couple of hours gazing through "Great Crimes and Trials" on Netflix the other day and it was strange that all the American based crimes seemed to feature reconstructions filmed in the UK whilst the UK crimes featured reconstruction scenes filmed in the US. A reconstruction of the Sarah Payne murder had the police being informed via US Western Bell dial telephones, whilst a US serial killer was tipped off from a BT phone box. In one programme the Long Island Rail transport was replaced with the London tube.

Ironically, just after this I watched an episode of Arrested Development which featured a tongue in cheek made up area of LA called "Wee Britain" where everyone was walking around in tarten kilts and driving on the wrong side of the road.

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

Post by George White »

Saw one of those thriller openings. God it was posed to be john Carson a figure in flat cap seen from the back out of a clapboard house in upstate ny and going in a classic car.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by ayrshireman »

George White wrote:
Tilt Araiza wrote:I just remembered one from the series Dead Like Me, featuring characters who collect the souls of the dying. In some cases we get to see what the dying person sees, which is essentially their personal heaven. In one episode a character is collecting the soul of an Irishman, so naturally his heaven is seeing the White Cliffs of Dover, while the soundtrack strikes up with "Scotland The Brave".
I'm Irish. I think Scotland the Brave is a great anthem, better than the deeedle-de-deeee Irish anthem (altogether now sinnnerrrrr fiaaannnnaaaaa faaaaaaalllll!)
Scotland The Brave is my nation's real and proper national anthem, not that third rate folk dirge we sing now because we won a rugby match in 1990.
To hear it played on the pipes and drums is hair on the back of the neck stuff.

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by George White »

Any more bad portrayals of UK? lIVING dEAD AT THE Manchester Morgue

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

Post by George White »

Anymore?

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Re: The Worst US TV and film depictions of Britain

Post by Shaqui »

Not a portrayal of the UK but I was bemused when accidentally leaving the subtitles on for 'My Living Doll' on DVD, and in the second episode for scenes set in a French restaurant, whoever transcribed them simply put 'French Language' whenever French was spoken.

I know we have a slight advantage with our proximity to France, and getting lessons in schools, but did no-one at the DVD company in the States seriously know what was being said? It was very basic stuff which even I knew...

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