I have only seen a 53 minute version of this rare and forgotten early British sound film, which was from a print found in Pennsylvania long ago by a specialist old film collector (possibly John Grigg or his protegé and heir of his collection, Dave Shepard?) IMDb records its original length as having been 85 minutes. I doubt whether the full version survives. The title comes from one of the main streets in London's Soho district, Greek Street. In this shortened version we do not actually see Greek Street, however. The film opens with some night shots of Piccadilly Circus as it was in 1929, but these shots are very poor and dark, and are savagely edited (doubtless for the shortened version). Just about the only thing one can gather from them is that there was a large lit sign advertising Ginger Ale on view at that time, and some men walking along towards the camera in evening clothes. These are the only exterior shots in the film, at least in the shortened version. Everything else was filmed on sets at Lime Grove Studios in Shepherds Bush, London. The subtitle of the film states that it is 'A Tale of the Italian Quarter of London'. Most of the action is set in an Italian restaurant-cum-dance hall called the Napoli, meant to be located on Greek Street. It is worth noting that the British authoress Radclyffe Hall had in 1926 published a novel entitled ADAM'S BREED, which called attention to the Italians of London and their Little Italy. Because of Hall's notoriety at the time, this may have aroused sufficient interest in them for this film to be made three years later. It is based upon a story written by Robert Stevenson (1905-1986), later famous as a writer and director; he wrote the screenplay for JANE EYRE (1943), and directed MARY POPPINS (1964) and many other Disney productions. The 'Italian quarter', or 'Little Italy', of London may have had its restaurant outposts in Soho, as it doubtless did, but it was really located not in Soho but between Holborn and Clerkenwell along Clerkenwell Road, and the now wholly desolate and depressing Saffron Hill, and all the other little side streets of that immediate area. This had commenced already by the middle of the 19th century. The reason why Dante Gabriel Rossetti settled with Lizzie Sidall in the 1850s in Red Lion Square was that, although outside Little Italy and hence free of its stifling social pressures on him, he could walk back to Little Italy to visit his parents in ten minutes. The best of both worlds! The old Italian Catholic church on Clerkenwell Road is still used by the now widespread and disparate old Italian community of London for their weddings. They come from all over for sentimental and family reasons to the old church, to honour the tradition of their forebears. One often sees glamorous brides, surrounded by hordes of Italian relatives, emerging from the little church door into the street, showered with confetti. This is despite the fact that very few Italians live anywhere near the church, and certainly not within convenient reach of it. The Italians were in the old days the only significant minority community in London, and they struck together for comfort, and to share their food. (Two Italian delicatessens survive in the area, though greatly changed in the past 20 years.) The Napoli of the film would have received all of its food and sauces from the real Little Italy, and in Soho there is still one of the oldest and best of the early Italian delicatessens doing thriving business. The film concerns the son of the proprietors of the Napoli, who runs the business. He is called Rikki, and is played by William Freshman. One evening he hears a girl singing in the street just outside the Napoli's door, and her voice enchants him. He opens the door and she finishes a song for him, then holds her hand out for some coins, but nearly faints from hunger and exhaustion. Rikki takes her in and gives her a good meal, and she says her parents have both died, she does not have a friend in the world, or a penny to her name. Her name is Anna, and she is a pretty young girl who has had voice training. Rikki falls in love with her pretty quickly, but is passionately jealous, while she keeps fending him off. She becomes the singer who is the main attraction at the Napoli. She is sympathetically played by the actress who called herself Sari Maritza (1910-1987), a woman who made 12 films between 1930 and 1934, this being her first. This actress 'Maritza' was a woman whose own story was so strange, it could have been a film in itself. Born in China, long thought to be an Austrian, she was in fact British. Charlie Chaplin at one time became so infatuated with her that he danced the tango with her all night long, causing a press sensation, but we are not told what else they may have done all night long on other occasions. However, I leave the fun of researching her to those who, like myself, enjoy strange tales. William Freshman, who plays Rikki with his best attempt at an Italian accent, was in fact an Australian. He overdoes his protestations of love, but then perhaps that was fashionable at the time. The film is full of lots of high-warbler singing, with one particularly catchy tune which I have heard elsewhere on various occasions but cannot place. I wonder if it originated with this film. There is some good tap-dancing by a gaggle of girls, seen entirely in long shots. Martin Lewis plays a villainous impresario, with suitably unctuous and loathsome traits. This film is very much a period curiosity with little intrinsic merit. Normal viewers seeking entertainment would find it merely tedious and annoying.
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