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The Jean Potter Memorial Arnold Bennett Archive

The Jean Potter Memorial

Serial extract of Piccadilly in Film Weekly no. 8 (December 10, 1928) and Piccadilly: Story of the Film (Readers’ Publishing Company, 1930).

Serial extract of Piccadilly in Film Weekly no. 8 (December 10, 1928)
and Piccadilly: Story of the Film (Readers’ Publishing Company, 1930).

Click on the image to view the digitised PDF

Serial extract of Piccadilly in The Film Weekly

Serial extract of Piccadilly in Film Weekly no. 8 (December 10, 1928) 
​and Piccadilly: Story of the Film (Readers’ Publishing Company, 1930).

Bennett made several forays into film and this melodrama, produced by British International Pictures in 1929, was made both as a silent film and an early ‘talkie’, though only the silent version survives.  The film starred Gilda Gray, famed for the invention of dance the ‘shimmy’ in Vaudeville, and Anna May Wong, pioneering Chinese-American film actress.  The film is also notable for its presentation of an inter-racial relationship between Anna May Wong’s character ‘Shosho’ and her employer, a night-club owner.  

Serial publication preceded ‘the book of the film’ – a way of maximising profits.  The Editor’s Note describes Bennett as ‘one of the most celebrated names in contemporary English literature’, ‘probably the most popular literary critic’ and a personage whose ‘influence with the reading public is so great that one of the principal ambitions of unknown authors, with an eye to the sales of their volumes, is to receive praise from him in one of his articles.’   Piccadilly the film did not do particularly well, but is now regarded as one of the better examples from the British silent era.  It was restored and released in 2004 (DVD 2005) and at the time of writing a new edition of the book, edited by Bennett scholar John Shapcott, has just been published.