Films connected with the Spanish Civil War

October 2012

“Voices from a Mountain” by David Leach now up on YouTube.

Good news is that David Leach has released his impressive programme on five British Brigaders and the unique memorial to the XV Brigade which was constructed during the fighting in August 1938 in the Sierra Pandols with the names of 35 officers of the Brigade inscribed in the concrete. I am very happy that David has at last released this important document. Thank you.  I urge you to watch it when you can. And if you want to go there sometime, drop us a line….


2nd February 2011

“The Kid from Spain” starring Eddie Cantor (1932)

Eddie Cantor in “The Kid from Spain”

Last week I was examining letters written by Welsh Brigader Alwyn Skinner in the Richard Burton archives at Swansea University. I made a note of one passage written on August 14th 1937 when Alwyn was based at Tarazona de la Mancha. He writes the following:

” One night this week we saw the film ‘A Kid from Spain” with Eddie Cantor & his scantily dressed girls. The showing was not so good, being in the open air, actually in the Bull Ring. And the talking and singing very indistinct.”

The Bull Ring in Tarazona de la Mancha still stands almost unchanged and it is possible to visit it (when open) and to easily imagine this film being shown there. From various accounts by Brigaders it is known that there were a wide variety of films shown to the Brigaders including such propaganda as “Sailors of Kronstadt” “Chapaiev” etc (Alvah Bessie mentions in his Spanish Civil War Diaries on November 3rd 1938 in Ripoll watching “Our Daily Bread”, “Confessions of a Collegian”,”The Private Life of Henry the Eighth” and “The Brewery”). Out of curiosity today I searched and discovered a clip from “The Kid from Spain” on Youtube. I was quite shocked and surprised! Below is the link which I urge readers to watch. But please imagine yourself as a full blooded young American or Englishman (or Welshman!) watching this film miles from home. Personally I regard it as an awful form of mental torture watching the clip of, as Alwyn writes, these “scantily dressed girls”!

Enjoy the clip and just try to imagine yourself there nearly seventy five years ago!

Welshmen in the International Brigades,  Brunete, August 1937. Back row, left to right: Alwyn Skinner,  Fred Morris,  Ben Davies,  C.E. Palmer. Middle row: Archie Cook,  Hector Manning,  Harry Dobson,  Arthur Williams. Front row: Jack Roberts, Ted Edwards,  Morris Davies.

A contemporary newspaper cutting of the same photograph  in Alwyn Skinner’s files at Swansea University states the following:  

Sefton Delmer, Daily Express war reporter photographed this group of Welshmen during a three day visit to the English speaking contingent of the Spanish Government Army. The men are at Quinto near Albacete. Sgt Morgan Skinner;   Lt. Davies, Newport;  Captain H. Dobson;  Captain Jack Roberts;  Lt Ted Edwards;  Lt Morris Davies;  Ben ?????; A Cook;  H. Manning and A. Williams.


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