Notting Hill Silents Presents...
Starring Anna May Wong
With Church Organ Accompaniment
Played by Donald MacKenzie, resident organist at the Odeon Leicester Square
Friday 13th October 2017, 8.00pm (doors open 7.00pm)
Film Running time: 104 minutes
At St John's Notting Hill, London, W11 2NN
TICKETS: At the bottom of the page.
This classic British silent film, set in London, will be accompanied by the evocative music of the restored organ, played by Donald MacKenzie, resident organist at the Odeon, Leicester Square.
Donald is returning to St John's Notting Hill after playing at seven previous shows:
Sherlock Jr in May 2017
The Lodger in October 2016
The Cameraman in May 2016
The Wind in October 2015
Steamboat Bill Jr in May 2015
Wings in November 2014
The Hunchback of Notre Dame in October 2013.
Advanced booking is highly recommended as all previous silent film screenings have sold out. Don't miss this special event!
Doors open at 7.00pm for an 8.00pm film start.
Film running time: 104 minutes
Age rating: PG
There will be popcorn and a bar available, with the church candlelit. Seating is unreserved - good sight lines are available throughout the church. Despite being heated, the church may be cold in October so please wear warm clothing.
“A film noir before the term was in use, PICCADILLY is one of the true greats of British silent films, on par with the best work of Anthony Asquith or [silent] Alfred Hitchcock” (Mark Duguid, BFI).
A tale of desire, jealousy and murder, director E.A Dupont’s masterpiece is a sultry, scandalous and opulent contribution to the late silent era. The film stars the iconic Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong as the ultimate femme fatale.
Piccadilly Circus nightclub owner Valentine Wilmot (Jameson Thomas) is faced with financial ruin as his star performer Mabel Greenfield (Gilda Grey) fails to draw an audience. After discovering exotic scullery maid Shosho (Anna May Wong) scandalously dancing in the kitchen for the nightclub’s staff, Wilmot makes her his top star and cashes in—deposing Mabel (also Wilmot’s lover) from her former glory. As Shosho’s star rises, Mabel seeks revenge...*
Dupont's assured direction, Alfred Jünge's art direction, and Werner Brandes' lighting powerfully combine to show an atmospheric, hauntingly evocative London of the 1920s in a film that will stay with you long after the final frame.
*Words by Alicia Fletcher, curator of Silent Revue, Toronto, Canada. Used with permission of the author: http://silentrevue.blogspot.co.uk/
For a full list of cast and crew credits, please see:
Anna May Wong
Anna May Wong was determined to act. But the only role she could find in Hollywood was that of an exotic, villainous snake. So she fled to Europe - and became a star
A shabby but very beautiful Chinese scullery maid with rips in her tights is called into a nightclub impresario's office. She thinks she is about to be sacked, but the nightclub boss's lust for her is obvious. He can't keep his eyes off her legs. Rather than fire her, Valentine Wilmot (Jameson Thomas) offers her a job as the top-of-the-bill exotic dancer in his ailing club, the Piccadilly. Thus is launched the spectacular but shortlived career of Shosho (Anna May Wong) in EA Dupont's Piccadilly (1929). This heady melodrama is the quintessential Wong vehicle. It sums up why audiences cherished her and why the film industry was so fiercely suspicious of her.
As her biographer Graham Russell Gao Hodges puts it, "her movies are almost always a representation of social fears about interracial sex". In Piccadilly , her effect on Wilmot is roughly akin to that of Louise Brooks's Lulu on the menfolk in Pandora's Box. The besotted impresario ignores his "flapper" mistress Mabel (Gilda Gray) so that he can spend more time with Shosho, "the Chinese Dancing Wonder". He accompanies her to Limehouse, where he pays a small fortune for the elaborate costume in which she will perform. The film-makers don't downplay the racism the couple encounter. We see Valentine and Shosho together in a rough East End club, which they are forced to leave after one drunken white woman is attacked for having the temerity to dance with a black man.
What's striking about Wong's Shosho is her defiance. At 5ft 7in, she's as tall as her leading man. She is not meek or deferential in her lover's presence, but takes his worship of her as her natural right. Nor is she in the slightest cowed when her rival Mabel visits her apartment and begs her to break off the affair. "He's too old for you," the spurned woman tells Shosho. "You're too old for him," she snaps back.
When the BFI's restored version of Piccadilly was screened at the New York film festival, her performance received rave reviews. Perhaps all this attention is partly motivated by guilt: both for how badly she was treated by the film industry and how quickly she was forgotten.
The above is taken from an article written by Geoffrey Macnab for the Guardian, used with permission of the author. The full article looks at Anna May Wong's career and the racial stereotyping and prejudice she faced. Read it here: www.theguardian.com/books/2004/mar/13/featuresreviews.guardianreview5
Donald MacKenzie was born in 1970 in Ayrshire, Scotland, and after learning to play the piano and classical organ with renowned Scottish organist Gordon Frier he received his first engagement in 1988 as the resident organist to the Glasgow Garden Festival.
In July 1992 Donald began his long association with the Odeon Leicester Square Compton organ by playing it for a number of events including a preview of 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Chaplin'. He was later appointed House Organist and has appeared regularly at film premières, special events and organ concerts. He has broadcast from the Odeon on BBC Radios 2, 3, 4 and the World Service. He has been featured on a number of television programmes and Donald has played for numerous Royal Film Performances, including four in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen.
Donald accompanied his first film when he was 14 for a special evening screening at Paisley Town Hall. He has now more than twenty feature films 'under his fingers' including the major classics of the silent screen - The Phantom of the Opera, Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, King of Kings, Carmen, The Black Pirate, Metropolis - as well as many different types of short silent films. His now renowned accompaniments have led to numerous bookings throughout the UK, Europe and the USA.
The Organ at St John’s Notting Hill, originally built in 1793, was fully restored and remodelled in 2013-14 by T. W. Fearn & Son Organ Builders. The firm specialises in the restoration of old mechanical pipe organs. The organ builders have undertaken to retain every original pipe and piece of mechanism, seeking not to modernise it but to retain its original character. The case surrounding the organ and the bird sculpture atop are both new, designed and created by architect Simon Ablett and artist Ali Henham respectively. The restoration and new works were made possible via the many donations from individuals and organisations, including a £373,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in March 2013. This grant also financed a series of enduring community activities and events, including school workshops (every local school and over 1,000 school children visited), a video recording made by young people at The Video College available on this website, a new history exhibition surrounding the organ researched and implemented by 20 volunteers, and many concerts and events. See the various pages of this website for more information. Profits from these silent film screenings go towards organ tuning and maintenance.
Tickets are just £10. All profits go to putting on more organ events and film nights at St John's Notting Hill, as well as to organ tuning and maintenance. Use the Paypal button below to purchase tickets. You do not need a Paypal account for payment, you can select the 'Pay with card' option on the payment screen. Tickets are not issued - instead names are recorded on a list which will be at the door on the evening. This means we avoid charging an extra booking fee. All ticket buyers will receive an email confirming their purchase, sent to the email address used at payment.
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