Piccadilly is a 1929 British silent drama film directed by E. A. Dupont, written by Arnold Bennett and starring Gilda Gray, Anna May Wong, and Jameson Thomas. The film was filmed on location in London, produced by British International Pictures.
|Directed by||E. A. Dupont (uncredited)|
|Produced by||Edwald André Dupont (as E.A. Dupont)|
|Written by||Arnold Bennett|
Anna May Wong
|Music by||Harry Gordon (uncredited)|
|Distributed by||Wardour Films Ltd. (UK)|
Sono Art-World Wide Pictures (US)
|1 June 1929|
109 minutes (restored version)
This film was initially released as a silent in February 1929, however with the advent of sound sweeping through the film industry at the time, the studio re-released the film later that same year in June for cinemas wired for sound. This version included a music score and sound effects by Harry Gordon, along with a five minute sound prologue with Jameson Thomas who plays Valentine Wilmot in the film and John Longden as the Man From China, which was filmed after the main filming was completed. The 'part talkie' version was first shown in the US.
In 2004, the film was re-released by Milestone Films after an extensive restoration, with music scored by Neil Brand, replacing the original music-and-sound effects soundtrack. It appeared in 2004 at film festivals nationwide, and in 2005 it was released on DVD.
Valentine Wilmot's London nightclub and restaurant, Piccadilly Circus, is a great success due to his star attraction, dancing partners Mabel (Gilda Gray) and Vic (Cyril Ritchard). One night, a dissatisfied diner (Charles Laughton) disrupts Mabel's solo with his loud complaint about a dirty plate. When Wilmot investigates, he finds Shosho (Anna May Wong) distracting the other dishwashers with her dancing. He fires her on the spot.
After the performance, Vic tries to persuade Mabel to become his partner offstage as well as on, and to go to Hollywood with him. She coldly rebuffs him, as she is romantically involved with Wilmot. That night, Wilmot summons Vic to his office. Before Wilmot can fire him, Vic quits.
That turns out to be disastrous for the nightclub. The customers had come to see Vic, not Mabel. Business drops off dramatically. In desperation, Wilmot hires Shosho to perform a Chinese dance. She insists that her boyfriend Jim play the accompanying music. Shosho is an instant sensation, earning a standing ovation after her first performance.
Both Mabel and Jim become jealous of the evident attraction between Shosho and Wilmot. Mabel breaks off her relationship with Wilmot.
One night, Shosho invites Wilmot to be the first to see her new rooms. Mabel has followed the couple and waits outside. After Wilmot leaves, she persuades Jim to let her in. She pleads with her romantic rival to give Wilmot up, saying he is too old for her, but Shosho replies that it is Mabel who is too old, and that she will keep him. When Mabel reaches into her purse for a handkerchief, Shosho sees a pistol inside and grabs a dagger used as a wall decoration. Frightened, Mabel picks up the gun, then faints.
The next day, the newspapers report that Shosho has been murdered. Wilmot is charged with the crime. During the ensuing trial, he admits that the pistol is his, but refuses to divulge what happened that night. Jim testifies that Wilmot was Shosho's only visitor. Things look bad. Then Mabel insists on telling her story. However, she can recall nothing after fainting until she found herself running in the streets. Realizing that either Mabel or Jim must be lying, the judge summons Jim. By then, however, Jim has shot himself at Shosho's mausoleum. As he lies dying, he confesses he killed Shosho.
- Gilda Gray as Mabel Greenfield
- Anna May Wong as Shosho
- Jameson Thomas as Valentine Wilmot
- Charles Laughton as A Nightclub Diner
- Ray Milland as extra in Nightclub scene
- Cyril Ritchard as Victor Smiles (as Cyrill Ritchard)
- King Hou Chang as Jim (as King Ho Chang)
- Hannah Jones as Bessie, Shosho's friend and dishwashing supervisor
- John Longden as The Man From China (uncredited, appears in the sound prologue)