We're taking a journey. A journey into alternate pasts and speculative futures. Adventure, crime, dark comedy and sci-fi. Hot tunes fading in fast from forgotten dance halls and vintage radio. Fedora hats with a snap brim. And, of course, Gothic lurks in the narrative shadows: tippet for a tulle, the dead once again stroll amongst the decaying temple colonnades. Stories always written out of love - or perhaps necessity? Like the murder of Miss Fromm, one can never really be sure...
Sunday, 6 March 2016
Lost Movies: The Shadow of Siam
Rare publicity shot of Henry
Rome. In long-lost The Shadow of Siam he played gritty merchant seaman
Bert Bulger who jumps ship in pursuit of necrophilic elephant hunter Adolf
Kublewagon. Ethel White played Ginger, the idealistic Brighton waitress with a
club foot and severe hearing impediment Bert saves from a life of white
slavery. Ethel claimed she based her character on Anna May Wong in the classic
British movie Piccadilly. Local actor Tongchai Tong was badly miscast as
Bert’s plucky cross-eyed sidekick Chalky.
A silent movie with expressionist
pretensions, The Shadow of Siam was made some time in the late twenties.
It was never released. Empire Gryphon Films collapsed shortly after the cast
returned to England and the owner mysteriously vanished. When interviewed by
the Daily Standard about his experience filming in Siam Rome simply said: “I
never want to see another bloody mango again.”
Anna May Wong
Shadow remains the only British silent movie to have been
made in Siam (now called Thailand) and was apparently mired in scandal. Originally
called the Metropol, the hotel used in the production of the movie might still exist in Bangkok – check out the Pulp Zen blog:
Both The Shadow of Siam and the Metropol feature
in the dystopian crime novel Zen City, Iso.
The infamous mango incident
For more on Henry Rome and The Shadow of Siam see my British Babylon blog.