The Life Story of David Lloyd Lloyd George (1918)

 

 

 

Director:     Maurice Elvey.

Starring:    Norman Page (David Lloyd George), Alma Reville (Megan Lloyd George), Ernest Thesiger (Joseph Chamberlain), Douglas Munro, Thomas Canning, Judd Green, Winifred Sadler, Miriam Stuart, Eric Stuart, Leonard Tugwell.

silent movie about  a Welsh politician working toward a welfare state in Britain who becomes the Prime Minister in WWI

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

The modest beginnings of a brilliant career. Though sprung from a long line of Welsh ancestors, Lloyd Lloyd George was born in Manchester, northeast of Liverpool, on January 17,1863.

Childhood, 1863-1870.

A few months after his birth, his parents leave Manchester for a farm, at Bulford in Pembrokeshire some 84 miles from London. His father dies there when Lloyd George is but 18 months old. Her brother now writes his sister to tell her to come live with him.

Lloyd George’s mother sells the furniture. Little boy Lloyd George tries to stop the men from taking the furniture out of the house. "The first revolt against authority." David even starts hitting one of the men.

Mrs. Lloyd George sets out for her brother’s home at Llanystumdwy near Criccieth in Carnarvonshire, North Wales. Her brother’s name is Richard Lloyd and he’s a shoemaker and a community leader in politics and religion.

Lloyd George goes to school. The schoolmaster is David Evans. He gave vivid scripture lessons to the class.

Richard Lloyd sometimes preached in the Chapel of the Disciples of Christ at Criccieth. Lloyd George went to that church. There he met a girl named Maggie Owen from Mynydd Ednyfed. Maggie would later become his wife.

The women wash their laundry in the stream.

Lloyd George’s first appeal to the nonconformist conscience. He appeals to the boys of the church that when the Squire and Vicar come today to hear the boys repeat the church catechism, they must say nothing.

The schoolmaster sends the boy’s dog Bismarck away from the class room, saying they will have no Germans here.

At the age of three and a half, Lloyd George enters the National (Anglican) school at Llanystumdwy. This is the church school – the only one in the village.

Lloyd George is asked to repeat the catechism, but he remains silent. Lloyd George explains his silence by saying it’s wrong for children who do not belong to your church to say the church catechism. The boys are all send out of the classroom and the adults will discuss this serious case of wanton insubordination.

Lloyd George and his friend like to play at French and Germans fighting. This is because of the Franco-German War (1870). Lloyd George leads the charges against the enemy Germans. He leads a flank attack and comes in behind the enemy.

 

Youth, 1870-1890.

Lloyd George is the youngest member of the village Debating Society which holds its meetings in the smithy at Llanystumdwy. They hold a debate on the equality of all human beings. Maggie Owen sometimes listens into the debate from outside.

Lloyd George is baptized in the stream outside the chapel of the Disciples of Christ at Criccieth. And Lloyd George decides that he would like to be a solicitor.

Uncle Richard learns Latin and French to help David out with his exams.

Lloyd George works as a junior clerk in the firm of Breese, Jones and Casson of Portmadoc.

Uncle Richard and the Lloyd George family move to Morvin House, Criccieth. Lloyd George is recognized as a powerful orator and is in demand at political meetings. He writes articles in the local newspaper using the pen-name of Brutus.

At age 21, Lloyd George goes to London for his final Solicitor’s Examination. While there he visits the House of Commons. He listens to an encounter between Mr. Gladstone and Lord Randolph Churchill in a debate on the Franchise Bill of 1884. At night Lloyd George writes in his diary that one day he will be a member of Parliament.

Lloyd George passes his law exam and tells his happy family that he must go and tell the news to Maggie. At 22 years of age, he puts up his plate at Morvin House.

January 24, 1888. Lloyd George marries Maggie in the chapel at Pencaenwydd.

As a lawyer, Lloyd George, now working at a branch office at Portmadoc fights for religious equality in the Llanfrothen Burial case. The Rector at Llanfrothen forbade the burial of a Nonconformist quarryman in his churchyard. Lloyd George tells his client to just go ahead and bury the man in the churchyard and he will defend the action.

In court the jury finds his favor of the defendants, but the judge sets it aside and enters a verdict in favor of the rector. The decision is reversed on appeal. Lloyd George said: "By the time the struggle had come to an end, my name was known all over Wales."

Lloyd George sets up a branch office at Festiniog. There he meets the famous Irish leader Michael Davitt. The Irishman urges Lloyd George to devote himself to political life.

 

 

Lloyd George becomes the Liberal candidate for the Carnarvon Boroughs in the By-election [an election to fill a vacancy arising during a term of office] of 1890. His opponent was Ellis Nanney, a territorial magnate of Llanystumdwy.

Lloyd George says: "There is a momentous time coming. The dark continent of wrong is being explored, and there is a missionary spirit abroad for its reclamation the realm of right."

The principle Conservative agent for Wales goes to Carnarvon to see how matters stand, according to his local agents. He then sends an encouraging report to London. He then goes to hear Lloyd George speak in the Pavilion at Carnarvon. He listens as Lloyd George proclaims: "A holy war has been proclaimed against man’s inhumanity to man, and the people of Europe are thronging to the Crusade."

Now the principle Conservative agent writes again to London saying that he is ". . . compelled to reverse my previous opinion of the prospects of the contest. A man who can make so overpowering an appeal to the emotions, is invincible in Wales. In my opinion the seat is lost to our party."

Lloyd George wins the election, but only by 18 votes.

Budget Day, 1890. Lloyd George takes the oath as a member of the House of Commons.

June 13, 1890. Lloyd George makes his first speech in the House of Commons, boldly criticizing the government for its neglect of Welsh education and Temperance Reform. Then he attacks Randolph Churchill and Joseph Chamberlain.

John Morley speaks with Lloyd George at a public meeting in Lancashire. There Morley praises Lloyd George to the audience.

Lloyd George becomes more eager than ever to push for Temperance Reform. He visits a South Wales mining village infamous for it Sunday heavy drinkers.

General Election of 1892. Lloyd George wins the re-election and by an increased majority.

In Parliament Lloyd George fights against landlordism and clericalism so hard that he sometimes is found in conflict with Parliamentary rules.

May 22, 1896. Lloyd George gets suspended by the Speaker. Everyone is asked to clear the room. Lloyd George replies: "I refuse to go as a protest against the action of the government."

Since Lloyd George won’t move, the Speaker names the offender. Then a man from across the aisle says: "I beg to move the suspension of the honorable member for Carnarvon for one week."  Lloyd George leaves the House of Commons for one week.

The General Election of 1900 takes place during the Boer War in South Africa. The Executive of the Carnarvon Liberal Association wonders whether, in view of Lloyd George’s attitude, they can again push him forward as their candidate. Lloyd George comes into the meeting and says: "Gentlemen, if I am elected, I shall continue to oppose the war as vehemently as in the past."

Birmingham Town Hall, December 18, 1900. There is a small riot outside the meeting place. The fighting also takes place inside the Town Hall. The politicians have to retreat to a back room. The police say that Lloyd George’s life is in danger and they must get him out of here disguised as a policeman.

1902. Lloyd George adds to his reputation in the Debates on the Education Bill. He pushes the case for popular education and is supported by William Abraham, an old Welsh miner.

December 1905. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman becomes the Prime Minister. Lloyd George enters the Ministry as President of the Board of trade, and pushes forward his Merchant Shipping Bill (1906) that has proved so beneficial to British seaman. Seamen start getting proper food and drink.

1906. Birmingham Town Hall. Again Lloyd George is to address a meeting.

October 1907. The railway accident at Shrewsbury. Lloyd George visits the scene and assists at the Inquiry by the Board of Trade Inspectors. 20 people died in the accident and Lloyd George pushes for the inquiry to be made public.

1908. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman dies. Asquith becomes Prime Minister and Lloyd George become Chancellor of the Exchequer.

May 28, 1908. Lloyd George introduces the Old Age Pensions Bill.

As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lloyd George lived at No. 11 Downing Street.

April 29, 1909. Lloyd George introduces his famous "People’s Budge"t. He made a speech on the subject that lasted five hours. He says the war put the nation on a war footing, but it’s a war against poverty and starvation. Balfour grants Lloyd George a rest of half-an-hour.

May 4, 1911. Lloyd George introduces the National Insurance Bill amid applause from all parties in the House of Commons. It’s a National Insurance against sickness.

Militant suffragettes put pressure on Lloyd George too. WWI intervened. The sequel was the great Franchise Act, passed by Lloyd George’s government in 1917, which gave the parliamentary vote to over six million women.

The shadow of the oncoming war was Germany’s challenge to France and England over the Morocco question. The war cloud disperses for a time.

Lloyd George goes to Wales for rest and recreation.

August 1914. The Red Dawn of the Great Crusade.

Queen’s Hall, September 19, 1914. Lloyd George gives a speech saying: "Belgium has been treated brutally. Hundreds and thousands of her people are wandering homeless in their own land. Refugees flee the cities of Belgium. "They think we cannot beat them. It will be a long job. It will be a terrible war, but in the end, we shall march through terror to triumph."

In the early days of WWI, Britain had a shortage of munitions. Lloyd George started getting the munitions factories to put out more munitions.

May 1915, Lloyd George is made the first Minister of Munitions. He works out of a single room at 6 Whitehall Court. The Parliamentary Secretary, Dr. Addison, speaks with Lloyd George about converting factories of every kind to make munitions. A businessman comes to complain the his factories make gramophones and they’re just not set up to produce munitions. Lloyd George describes how necessary it is to convert regular factories to munitions factories to save the British Empire and the Allies. So, the gramophone factory become a munitions factory.

Lloyd George goes on a tour of some of the new munitions factories. He watches as women do a lot of the work, but all in the factories do their bit for the war effort. Lloyd George says to a gathering of workers: "There are more than a million in France waiting for munitions. I know you will not disappoint them."

Battle scenes are shown.

Lloyd George goes to France to confer with Albert Thomas, the French Minister of Munitions. He tours the trenches and speaks with some of the British solders.

Salute to heroes. After the great Somme battles and the immortal defense of Verdun by the French.

Lloyd George is guest of honor at a mess-dinner in the vault of the citadel of Verdun. He tells the French how much the British people respect the French for their tremendous war effort.

On the death of Lord Kitchener, Lloyd George becomes Secretary of State for War. He pays several visits to the Western Front. Some of his visits were during the actual fighting.

Lloyd George sees that the railway system behind the British Lines must be improved. He asks Sir Eric Geddes to reorganize the system.

December 1916. Asquith resigns as Prime Minister and Lloyd George is made the Prime Minister and the First Lord of the Treasury. Lloyd George’s new residence is No 10 Downing Street.

December 19, 1916. Lloyd George gives his first speech in the house of Commons as Prime Minister.

March 29, 1917. Lloyd George receives a deputation representing women’s organization at No. 10 Downing Street. He praises the women for their devotion to the war effort in every capacity.

April 6, 1917. The USA declares war against Germany.

April 12, 1917. Lloyd George welcomes the USA in a speech at the Savoy Hotel in London.

Summer, 1917. Lloyd George seeks a few days rest in Wales.

Lloyd George goes to Italy on a mission to unify the Allied effort. Coming back from Italy he stops in Paris, France and delivers his famous Paris speech. He calls for greater unity among the Allies. In the year 1918 this leads to French and British armies fighting under one command in the great battles. More battle scenes are shown.

The Champion of Civilization. Lloyd George has been presented with the freedom of London, Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The Champion of Democracy. Peace.

God Save the King and Lloyd George.

The Last Roll-Call.

Lloyd George says: "I have always been confident that we would get through, for I knew we were fighting for the right, and that the God of Righteousness would see us through."

As regards war, Lloyd George says there must be no "next time".

 

 

 

In the Introduction given by actor Philip Madoc. Lloyd George was by common consent the most popular political orator of his day. In mid-1918 Lloyd George was the Prime Minister. The movie was made while WWI was still going on. But the premiere of the movie was not until 1996.  This is because the jingoistic John Bull magazine and its notorious editor Horatio Bottomly alleged that the film makers of the Ideal Film Company were German sympathizers and not fit to make the picture.  Many of the backers of the film were German Jewish men.  Madoc says that it might be that Bottomly was partly motivated by anti-Semitism.  The article was the death knell of the picture.  But now it's on DVD and you can decide for yourself about the film. 

It's a long movie of around two and a half hours.  I didn't detect any sympathy for the Germans in the movie.  The movie was a work of love for the Prime Minister David Lloyd George during the later part of WWI.  He was a great orator and a very hard working politician who helped bring early versions of bills that eventually led to a welfare state in the United Kingdom.  The movie is definitely a biopic as it closely followed Lloyd George and very few other people of his time. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

 

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