Grand Slam (1978 film)
|Directed by||John Hefin|
|Produced by||John Hefin|
|Written by||Gwenlyn Parry
|Edited by||Chris Lawrence|
|Language||English, Welsh, French|
Grand Slam is a 1978 sports comedy film produced by BBC Wales. The film starred Oscar-winning actor Hugh Griffith, Windsor Davies, Dewi "Pws" Morris and Sion Probert. The play was written for television by Gwenlyn Parry and then-head of drama for BBC Wales, John Hefin.
One of the party is funeral director Caradog Lloyd-Evans (Griffith), who briefly served in occupied Paris near the end of World War II. Caradog pays for his son Glyn's air ticket on the proviso that Glyn (Morris) comes on a 'pilgrimage' to find his 'little butterfly' who he spent a short romantic period with during the war. This pilgrimage is successful and although the right place is found, it is no longer the innocent bistro of his youth but one of many strip club joints. Mr Lloyd-Evans mistakes a young girl in the club (who is a spitting image of his 'little butterfly') for the real thing and finds that the girl is actually Odette (Sharon Morgan), the daughter of his old flame. He is (naturally) disappointed but Glyn gets himself acquainted with Odette while Caradog reminisces with his 'butterfly' (played by Marika Rivera).
A quick call to the hotel brings the entire tour party to the club where fun and frolicking takes place led by club secretary Mog Jones (Davies), a retired player whose dreams of playing for his country were never realised. Some locals take exception and a mass brawl starts which ends with the arrival of the police. The whole party is arrested except Caradog (protected by his 'butterfly' Madame) and Glyn (hidden in Odette's bedroom).
Sion Probert plays camp boutique owner Maldwyn Pugh, who is the only one of the main four characters who makes the start of the match, because Mog is still in jail as he was considered the ringleader (the others were released), Caradog has collapsed near his strip club table while Glyn is trying for his own sexual 'Grand Slam' with Odette, taking a rest to watch the game on TV.
Mog is eventually released halfway through the first half of the match, but when he finally arrives at the stadium, there's only seconds of the game left, which Wales lose, leaving Maldwyn without a prized signature from Gareth Edwards and Mog still yet to witness a Welsh Grand Slam triumph. Caradog is found after the match, and Madame thinks he has died, but Odette fires a soda siphon on his face, and the story ends with Caradog warning his son of the dangers of overseas travel.
- Many of the film's interior scenes were filmed at the BBC Wales club in Newport Road, Cardiff with filming in Paris taking place over several days in February 1977, when Wales' match with France took place at Parc des Princes during the second round of matches in the 1977 Five Nations Championship. The airport scenes were filmed at Cardiff Airport.
- Wales' 16-9 defeat on the day of the match led to a rewrite of some of the film's closing scenes and a new scene with Mog and Maldwyn contemplating next year's Wales v France fixture at Cardiff Arms Park (which saw Wales beat France 16-7 to win the Grand Slam and the 1978 Five Nations).
- The film is iconic in Wales, being broadcast many times since its original network transmission at 10.45pm on Friday 17 March 1978. It also marked the penultimate film or television role of actor Hugh Griffith, who died in 1980.
- Originally intended to run for 75 minutes, the film was ordered to be cut down to an hour just a few days before its first network broadcast as a result of industrial action.