One of the pinnacles of British silent cinema, Piccadilly is a sumptuous showbiz melodrama seething with sexual and racial tension. The Chinese-American screen goddess Anna May Wong stars as Shosho, a scullery maid in a fashionable London nightclub whose sensuous tabletop dance catches the eye of suave club owner Valentine Wilmot. She rises to become the toast of London and the object of his erotic obsession – to the bitter jealousy of Mabel, his former lover and star dancer (played by Ziegfeld Follies star Gilda Gray). This stylish evocation of Jazz Age London, directed by the German émigré E. A. Dupont, boasts the dazzling cinematography of Werner Brandes and atmospheric sets by Alfred Junge – ranging from the opulent West End nightclub (actually filmed in Piccadilly's Café de Paris) to seedy Limehouse. Charles Laughton has a cameo role, making one of his first screen appearances as a greedy nightclub diner.

Piccadilly was a star vehicle for Anna May Wong, the first Asian-American star and one of the first non-white actresses to gain international celebrity. Best known for her role as Marlene Dietrich's sultry sidekick in Shanghai Express, Wong's career was stymied by racial stereotyping. Until recently all but forgotten, she now seems poised for rediscovery.

Technical Specs

Director: Ewald Andre Dupont
Year: 1929
Country: UK
Language: Silent
Duration: 108 min
Colour: B/W and Tinted
Certificate: PG