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Piccadilly1929

  • 3.8
E.A. Dupont's PICCADILLY, the 1929 silent masterpiece brilliantly restored by the British Film Institute, stars the sultry Anna May Wong in her greatest role. After many years of supporting roles in Hollywood, Wong left for Europe in search of better work. And did she find it! Her electric, sexually-charged performance in PICCADILLY is a revelation. She is mesmerizing as Shosho, the Chinese scullery maid at a Piccadilly nightclub who overnight becomes the toast of London (and the object of desire of all around her). The camera adores Wong, and against Alfred Junge's astonishing set design, she glows on the big screen. With this gorgeous restoration of PICCADILLY and its first distribution in the US since 1929, audiences across the world fell under the spell of the bewitching Anna May Wong!

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"A film noir before the term was in use, PICCADILLY is one of the true greats of British silent films, on a par with the best work of Anthony Asquith or Alfred Hitchcock in the period." - Mark Duguid, BFI Screenonline


Member Reviews (2)

Like Anna May Wong, I am a Chinese-American woman born and raised in the U.S. Before I watched any of her films, I used to be happy that there was a Chinese-American female star in classic Hollywood. However, now I would rather not be represented at all, because the so-called "progressive interracial relationship" in this case is used to champion the white patriarchy while blaming Asian men for sexism and violence when it is actually the other way around, since that is what happens at the end of the movie.

Look, the white man in this movie claimed credit for all his poor wife's success as a dancer just because she didn't writhe and seethe like "Shosho" (most definitely not a Chinese name, more like Chocho from Madama Butterfly) in response to his lecherous advances. Meanwhile, the Chinese-British man in this movie unquestioningly tried on the demeaning Cambodian, not Chinese, female costume that his wife wanted to humiliate him with. Which one of these men seems more disrespectful to women to you?

This film features both the exotic, obedient Lotus Blossom stereotype for Asian women and the contradictory, theoretically impossible stereotype of Asian men being both submissive yet abusive (racists will just lump together all the insults they can). I guess they rationalize this idea by making Asian women into helpless damsels that need a white savior from their oh-so-backwards society. Also, it is very boring and slow, not only because of the bad script and directing, but because Anna May Wong likes to slowly move her arms and hands in a way no Asian would, just to pander to white conceptions of how Asians are like. I would give 0 stars if I could, and I am glad that no one really watches Anna's drivel anymore.

It is said that when Anna visited China, Chinese people had a negative reaction to her with how she portrayed Chinese and other Asian cultures in America. When I first heard that, I felt sympathy because I related to how she wasn't accepted by either America and China, but now I realize that the Chinese audiences were completely right in being indignant at her besmirching of her own heritage. Anna May Wong, Suzie Wong, all that crap that's supposed to count as "representation"...it's not representation if that's not how we are. Now if they could only get stereotypical, inaccurate Amy Tan off some school curriculums, I would be happy.

A masterpiece! Anna May Wong deserves to be better known.