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1903, 4 minutes
One of the few surviving films made by [Arthur] William Haggar (1851-1925), a travelling showman and film pioneer based in Wales from the 1880s onwards, 'A Desperate Poaching Affray' is also one of the first chase films ever made and one which contributed to the craze for such films in America. It includes a panning shot and features Haggar's son, William, and another actor playing the parts of poachers, who are disturbed whilst recovering rabbits from a net they have laid for the purpose. They are hunted through rural Pembrokeshire by three landowners (or their representatives) and two policemen, both sides using rifles when the opportunity arises. The poachers are finally outmanoeuvred at a ford or pond. They are carted off, wet, dripping and defeated.
Two poachers approach a net they have laid out to catch rabbits and free several rabbits that are caught there (William Haggar Jnr. playing the poacher that disentangles his rabbit first). Disturbed whilst removing the net, they fling it to one side and seek cover in the the nearby bracken. Three rifle-toting landowners, or their representatives, find the net and give chase, by-passing the area in which the men are hiding. The three men are followed by two policemen. With their pursuers safely past, the two men emerge from the bracken and the camera pans to show them running along a track and over a gate. However, they are closely followed by the pursuers, one of whom now has a number of dogs with him. The two poachers run through bracken, approaching the camera, and then turn and fire on their pursuers, having acquired some rifles themselves. In the exchange one of the poachers is hurt, drops his rifle, but hurries on. The pursuers close in as the poachers exit the scene from in front of the camera. The two parties meet in a clearing near woodland and fight, the poachers managing to escape, one [William] having managed to snatch someone's else's rifle, his own having been lost on the way. Each man's face - desperate [particularly William] and heated from all the running - is seen as they pass close to the camera, the hunted and the hunters. The two poachers run down a road, looking back over their shoulders [at the camera]. They then stand and fire at the oncoming pursuers, two of whom fall to the ground. All those that can run on, including the dogs, the pursuers firing back to no avail. A policeman and one poacher fight in a pond. Then the other poacher [William] arrives and runs back and forth through the water, trying to avoid various pursuers. Both poachers are then seen arriving at a smaller pond or ford, where they are surrounded (pursuers to the front and back of them). They are hauled away, each held by several men and each passing before the camera
Re title: see note under 'Stepney Wedding' (title no. 1668) re phone call from Roy Haggar (13/3/98) in which he dates this film as 1902 and says that the family always referred to this film as 'The Poachers' (as he does in a letter of 22/10/99 re use of this film and 'The Maid of Cefn Ydfa' in the Archive promo). Dave Berry thinks that 'The Poachers' is probably the title used in the USA. All the trade magazines etc. for Britain refer to the film as DPA. He suggests that the family may have referred to it as 'The Poachers' but that the distributors re-named it DPA.

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