Seek help lipreading silent film dialogue (Piccadilly, 1929)

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
Cynthia Walk
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Seek help lipreading silent film dialogue (Piccadilly, 1929)

Unread post by Cynthia Walk » Sat Sep 26, 2009 1:13 pm

Dupont's film is known primarily as a star vehicle for the Chinese American actress, Anna May Wong. It features a remarkable sequence, daring for its time, that openly challenges racism in the taboo against interracial romance. In this scene Wong's character, Shosho, and her Caucasian lover leave the fashionable West End nightclub where she dances and go across town to a bar in the working-class district of Limehouse/Chinatown in London's East End. There they watch as a white woman is expelled from the pub for dancing with a black man in a hostile encounter mirroring their own predicament.

My question concerns the Vamp (as the white woman is called in the credits). When the bar owner confronts her, she protests. She stands her ground, holding the center of the screen for almost a full minute. There are no intertitles for this statement, but her lips form the words so demonstratively that they invite us to read them, esp. in the passage that seems to begin "How dare you..." [see below a link to this scene on YouTube posted by BFI, esp. at 5:00 ff].

Can anyone help decipher what the Vamp actually says here and how the others respond?

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Unread post by BrianG » Sat Sep 26, 2009 7:42 pm

If there was any silent film that deserved to be a talkie, it was Piccadilly. I hope someone here can make out what she said, I wondered the same thing when I watched it. Anna May Wong was wonderful, but I had to mute the score. I thought it had the worse score outside of a public domain release.

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Unread post by FrankFay » Sun Sep 27, 2009 10:33 am

I agree on the score. Neil Brand misfired on this one- it isn't bad as music but I just don't feel it fits the film. The strange thing is, I heard him play a live score to this and it was great.
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Re: Seek help lipreading silent film dialogue (Piccadilly, 1

Unread post by Keatonesque » Fri May 11, 2018 2:28 pm

I recently watched this and feel it's time for a new score that actually fits an otherwise wonderful silent that showcases Anna May Wong at her very best. The DVD is nearly 15 years old, and Neil Brand's score is one of the very few I have to mute when watching this. It's a marvelous, bold silent, but his music (like his scores on some Ozu silents) is just about as bad as it gets.

Here is the extract with the scene in question:

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