Grahame N's Web Pages



Actual 9.5mm film main title



Cinema release main title (on a London bus!)



Austrian cinema poster that I'm sure Pathéscope didn't use for the 9.5mm release!


SB.30030 (3 reels) UK 9.5mm silent film release by Pathéscope - January 1933
(Also released on 9.5mm in French and Spanish versions as 2SB.799)
"PICCADILLY"                  GB 01Feb1928     Dir: Eward André Dupont
---------------                  British International Pictures
92mins (restored 108mins) B/W    Produced by: E.A. Dupont
(Approx 30 mins on 9.5mm)        Production Company: BIP (British International Pictures)
Cert "A"                         Produced at BIP Studios, Borehamwood, (Elstree), UK 
                                 Distributed by: Wardour Films Ltd (UK)
Screenplay by:Arnold Bennett     Art Director: Alfred Junge
Cinematography:Werner Brandes    Edited by: Arthur Tavares

(Originally released for the cinema in 1929 as silent, but re-released in 1930 with a music and part speech sound track)
Cast:  
    Gilda Grey  ............ Mabel Greenfield
    Anna May Wong .......... Shosho 
    Jameson Thomas ......... Valentine Wilmot
    Charles Laughton ....... Diner
    King Ho-Chang .......... Jim
    Cyril Ritchard ......... Victor Smiles
    Hannah Jones ........,.. Bessie
    Ellen Pollock .......... Vamp
    Harry Terry ............ Publican
    Gordon Begg ............ Coroner
    Charles Patton ......... Doorman
    Debroy Somers and his Band 
                 

Drama - Valentine Wilmot, owner of London's Piccadilly Night Club, is not pleased with the renowned cabaret dancers Mabel Greenfield and Victor Smiles. He sacks Victor and tries a new act featuring Shosho, a young Chinese scullery maid discovered dancing in the Club's kitchens. She is a big success, but Mabel, who is romantically involved with Wilmot, becomes insanely jealous and suspects him of having an affair with the girl. Shosho is later found shot at her Limehouse flat. At the Coroner's Inquest, Jim, her musician, testifies that he saw Wilmot arrive at the flat on the night of the murder. The club owner agrees that a revolver used in the killing belongs to him, but refuses to answer any more questions. Just as the jury is about to retire, Mabel confesses to having visited the girl that night. She had taken the gun from Valentine's desk and during a violent arguement had threatened Shosho with the weapon before passing out. Who done it?? (Well there is an appendix in Maurice's superb catalogue with the answer, but you will just have to view the film, or maybe read below .... gln26Oct2015)

(Description from Maurice Trace's fantastic "Guide to Pathescope Silent 9.5mm Dramas, Thrillers, Adventures and Western Films")


The Plot (courtesy Wikipedia)

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.



Valentine Wilmot (played by Jameson Thomas) with Shosho (Anna May Wong)


BFI DVD Box Text

One of the pinnacles of British silent cinema, Piccadilly is a sumptious showbusiness melodrama seething with sexual and racial tension. Chinese American screen goddess Anna May Wong stars as Shosho, a scullery maid in a fashionable London nightclub whose sensuous table-top dance catches the eye of suave club owner Valentine Wilmot.

With her exotic dance routines she rises to become the toast of London and the object of Wilmot's erotic obsession - prompting the bitter jealosy of Mabel, his former lover and star dancer (played by Ziegfeld Follies star Gilda Grey). Contemporary fears and temptations of miscegenation are played out through Wong as the subject of fatal passions.

The stylish evocation of Jazz Age London, directed by German emigré E.A. Dupont boasts the dazzingly fluid cinematography of Werner Brandes and atmospheric sets by Alfred Junge - ranging from the opulent West End nightclub to seedy Limehouse. Beautifully restored by the BFI National Film and Television archive complete with blue and amber tinting, Piccadilly is accompanied by a newly commisioned dramatic score by Neil Brand, performed by some of the UK's leading jazz players.


Pathéscope Monthly magazine - January 1933


 
Pathéscope Monthly magazine - front cover

   
 Text from the 1955 Pathéscope Film Catalogue 
"Piccadilly" remained listed in the Pathéscope 9.5mm Film Catalogues all the way from 1933 or so,
up to what was the last descriptive, illustrated 9.5mm film catalogue dated 1956-1957 (first edition).  

 
  Watch an extract from "Piccadilly" on YouTube - https://youtu.be/BzpcgLPIBFI 

Notes:

 1. An extract is used in the film "The Elstree Story" GB 1952.

 2. Anna May Wong (as Shosho) signs her contract with the characters ??,
    which is actually her real Chinese name Huáng Liushuang.  
 3. Dupont was a recent arrival from Germany, who had made just one
    previous film in Britain, the elegant Moulin Rouge (1928), also
    released on the 9.5mm gauge by Pathéscope as a notched two reeler - 2S.30008.   
 4. The opening credits appear on the sides of London buses. 
    
 5. The DVD release includes many extra items, including a transfer of the 9.5mm
    film release with piano accompaniment by Neil Brand.

 6. The set-piece dance numbers were filmed at Piccadilly's famous Cafe de Paris.
    Shots of Wilmot kissing Shosho were eliminated when the director was overruled
    by Censors - presumably on the grounds that inter-racial romance should not be
    shown in the Cinema.

 7. Gilda Grey was a Polish-born dancer who popularised a dance craze
    "The Shimmy" at the start of the roaring twenties and became an
    international success with the Ziegfeld Follies.
(Extra Info gratefully added from Maurice Trace, Wikipedia  and gln)       

An excellent restoration of the film
has been released on a DVD
with many extras, in the UK by the BFI

"Piccadilly, restored to its original glory, was a genuine revelation to me. It's a bold, beautifully crafted,
completely modern picture ... one of the truly great films of the silent era." (Martin Scorsese)


Return to: 9.5MM PATHESCOPE SILENT FILM CATALOGUE ........... ALPHA .......... NUMERIC


Created 24Oct2015 ...... Last updated: 12 December 2016 ...... 95flmcatsb30030.htm ......©MMXV Grahame L. Newnham