6 June 2009 | didi-5
high drama on the dance floor
With a rags to riches story, an intrigue with an older woman, a lounge lizard, and secrets to prevent a scandal, 'Palais de Danse' has all the ingredients to make this late British silent a success.
Starring Mabel Poulton, a short, impish faced girl who failed to make the transition to sound and was therefore coming to the end of her career in this film, it starts with a Cinderella type plot - Mabel is with her war veteran father watching the bright young things going to party, when she's invited to join them as their token 'poor one'. Of course she falls in love with someone much higher in class than she - Tony King (Robin Irvine), who loves her right back, and even more when she becomes a dance partner at the Palais, under the lecherous gaze of Number One dancer, Juan Jose (a splendidly villainous John Longden).
With Tony's mother, Lady King (Hilda Moore), not entirely receptive to the budding romance, while hiding a secret of her own, the stage is soon set for drama, passion, and a final fight to the death. Along the way there is considerable room for dancing, comedy, and intrigue, and it is all done very well.
With a ballroom sequence not unlike the one at Blackpool in Maurice Elvey's earlier 'Hindle Wakes', and some excellent close-up work, especially of people's eyes, this is an unusual film which repays the attention. A forgotten drama with charm, energy, and some excellent performances.