Midsummer's day. Felt a bit 'down' this morning and went out to try to cheer myself up. Worked!
The object of my excursion was to visit and ransack the book-barrows. With a vengeance do they represent Convention. I have known them for over forty years, and instead of advancing they have receded. To begin with, the majority of them were shut-up and sheeted down in their black tarpaulins. This at four o'clock on Saturday afternoon! Influence no doubt of the sinister weekend habit invented by the book-reading classes! And those that were still "open" might be divided into two classes: barrows stocked with too-excited literature, arcane publications and works by obscure authors; barrows heaped pell-mell with books in a disorder so acute that you could not possibly examine more than ten percent of them without employing a housebreaking and demolition firm. I did, in fact, detect one or two pleasing items but to prove the sincerity of my remarks to the barrow-man I refused to buy any of them - he didn't care! The book-barrow trade ought to look to itself, and if I do my duty I shall write to the Secretary of the National Union of associations of Book-barrow Dealers. Half an hour in Farringdon Road has served to raise my opinion of shop-based booksellers!
I have had the opportunity to see the film "Piccadilly", for which I wrote the screenplay last year, and was pleased with it. Dupont has done an excellent job in bringing the story to life on the screen and the advertising poster is superb. The quality of the acting was, I thought, good. There was considerable use of close-up shots of the actors' faces and they were generally successful in conveying their emotions with subtle changes of expression. This surprised me. A surprisingly large amount of the dialogue is discoverable by lip-reading the actors. Dupont seems to have managed to locate and use a large number of characterful extras which added to the authenticity of the film, as did the use of scenes shot in the streets of London. The contrast between the privileged world of the wealthy and that of the working-classes was brought out excellently: the audience in the Piccadilly Club seemed bland, homogeneous and uninteresting in comparison with the denizens of the Limehouse public house who were diverse, colourful and full of life, with a barely veiled edge of violence and sexuality. Anna May Wong was excellent in the role of Shosho, though her Chinese dance didn't seem likely to have excited male appetites to the extent implied by the story-line. Jameson Thomas as Valentine Wilmot was suitably sinister. I was pleased that all the characters I created retained their flaws in transition from paper to the silver screen. The film is no great work of art, but it is decidedly watchable.