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Film / Piccadilly

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Piccadilly is a 1929 silent film directed by E.A. Dupont, starring Gilda Gray, Jameson Thomas, and Anna May Wong.

Valentine Wilmot (Thomas) is the owner of the appropriately named Piccadilly Club in the Piccadilly Circus neighborhood of London. His star act is the dance team of Mabel and Vic. Mabel (Gray), as it happens, is his girlfriend. So when Wilmot notices Vic getting a little too affectionate with Mabel, he fires Vic. This turns out to be a blunder, as Mabel dancing by herself is not enough of an attraction, and business drops off dramatically.

Enter Shosho (Wong), a Chinese scullery maid whom Wilmot had fired after he caught her dancing in the scullery instead of washing dishes. With business hurting, Wilmot re-hires her, this time as a dancer in an exotic Chinese costume. Mabel, who is being upstaged, is jealous. She is even more jealous when she sees the growing attraction between Shosho and Wilmot, as is Jim, Mabel's Chinese would-be boyfriend.


Two future stars have small parts in the movie. Charles Laughton can be seen as the patron who complains about his dirty dinner plate, which gets Shosho fired. Ray Milland appears as an extra in the nightclub.


  • And the Adventure Continues: As symbolized by the ads at the end of the movie for the new show at the Piccadilly, a show called "Life Goes On".
  • Artistic Licence: During the inquest, the gun is referred to as a revolver. It's obviously a semi-automatic.
  • Betty and Veronica: Mabel - the wholesome English girl - is presented as the Betty. Shosho - the exotic Chinese dancer - is the Veronica.
  • Blood from the Mouth: How we know that Jim is a goner, after he shoots himself.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Creative opening credits. All the credits are displayed as posters on London double-decker buses passing in front of the camera. This was unusual for the era, in which credits were usually shown as plain old title cards.
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  • Dies Wide Open: Poor Shosho, after she gets shot.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jim, who turns out to be the murderer, kills himself.
  • Erotic Eating: Mabel makes a big show of the cookie she's eating, in order to taunt Vic.
  • Fainting: Mabel has an unfortunate habit of this. She faints when watching Shosho becoming a big success on the dance floor, and she faints when Shosho pulls a knife on her (Shosho saw a gun in Mabel's purse).
  • Funetik Aksent: More plot-relevant than most, as Jim's line "it’ll bring no luck to ‘im as finds it" reveals that he is not an immigrant but a native-born Londoner.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Shosho is a Japanese name and she engages in the Japanese practice of keeping a dagger on the wall. However she's played by a Chinese actress and does a Thai-inspired dance.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Neither Mabel nor Jim are happy to see Shosho and Valentine drawn to each other.
  • Match Cut: From the nodding Buddha icon on Wilmot's desk to Wilmot's nodding assistant as he explains that business at the club is deteriorating.
  • Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: Wilmot is more powerful than Shosho in their romance.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Anna May Wong in her prime doing sexy dances in skimpy exotic costumes.
  • Orbital Shot: Around Mabel and Vic as they dance on the floor.
  • The Place: Movie titled after both the club and the neighborhood.
  • P.O.V. Cam: We see a black screen in which an eye-shaped window appears, showing Mabel, as Shosho wakes up to see her rival.
  • Pretty in Mink: Shosho wears a fur-trimmed coat with High-Class Gloves as she meets Valentine for an evening.
  • Where da White Women At?: A black man is thrown out for dancing with a white woman. Other punters ask the woman if she's blind. She responds by giving the racist man a verbal smackdown, and walking out of the bar.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: There's an extraordinarily large newspaper article on "Shosho the Chinese dancing wonder".