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.

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