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A decadent, controversial tale of London's seedy underbelly, where an elegant Chinese club host enslaves the weak with white powder.

Crime 1922 50 mins Silent

Director: Graham Cutts


In this decadent tale of drugs and the London underworld the cosseted daughter of a respectable businessman - in fact head of a cocaine racket - succumbs to the pleasures of drink and drugs. Vivid nightlife scenes recreate the interwar world of flappers and hedonists; the dapper club owner and seedy street dealer are both Chinese (played by white actors), common stereotypes at the time.

The third Chinese character, a sympathetic lackey, is played by an uncredited Chinese actor; his natural performance points up the hamminess of the other two. Retitled While London Sleeps following censorship problems, Cocaine was the directorial debut of Graham Cutts, a prominent figure in 1920s and 30s British cinema and a mentor (and later rival) to the young Alfred Hitchcock.