After the headlining act quits at an outré London nightclub, the owner turns his obsessive attentions to a preternaturally talented member of the kitchen staff: Shosho (Anna May Wong), a humble dishwasher who enjoys entertaining her fellow backroom employees by vamping around the kitchen. Shosho is promoted to the spotlight as the new headliner at Piccadilly, but not without envy and malice from many around her. Wong, the first Chinese-American movie star, is stunning here in her best role from a career of more than 50 films. She flies in the face of stereotypes with panache and charisma, while proudly inhabiting the sensual character of Shosho. Reportedly frustrated with the relentless racism in the 1920s American film industry, Wong took control of her star identity and chose to team up for this British production with forward-thinking German director E.A. Dupont. PICCADILLY is a brilliant collaboration by two artists at the top of their games. It screens at AFI FEST with a live DJ accompaniment by Ms. 45s. — Beth Hanna
It screens at AFI FEST with a live DJ accompaniment by Ms. 45s.
One of the pioneers of German cinema, Ewald André Dupont (1891-1956) made the transition to the British film industry in 1929 with PICCADILLY. His other films include LOVE ME AND THE WORLD IS MINE (1927), which he made for Carl Laemmle at Universal, and ATLANTIC (1929).
Anna May Wong (1905-1961) was the first Chinese-American movie star, having achieved stardom in the Technicolor THE TOLL OF THE SEA (1922). Among her collaborators were Douglas Fairbanks, Josef von Sternberg and Raoul Walsh, with credits including THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1924), PICCADILLY (1929) and SHANGHAI EXPRESS (1932).