Sunday, October 24, 2010

More on Wilson, Keppel and Betty

The other day I posted film of Wilson, Keppel and Betty - or at least of Wilson and Keppel.

The best article about them I have found is the one by Luke McKernan:
There are certain key pieces of archival film that stay in our collective consciousness and remain remembered by everyone. Film archivists know them so well because they are requested again and again.

There is Chamberlain waving his piece of paper promising ‘peace in our time’; there is the couple dancing the Charleston on the roof of a car as it drives down Kingsway; there is the procession of impractical and helplessly clumsy early aircraft crashing in succession into the ground; there is that hapless lady dignitary trying to launch a ship with a champagne bottle that will not smash; there is the suffragette throwing herself under a horse at the 1913 Derby; there are the troops going over the top in the Battle of the Somme; and there is the sand dance of Wilson, Keppel and Betty.

I worked at the National Film and Television Archive for a number of years, and I think it is probably true to say that this one piece of film was requested by the public more times than any other.
He concludes:
They inspired many imitators, but none came close to the mixture of anarchy, suggestiveness, humour, grace and knobbly knees that made Wilson, Keppel and Betty a unique phenomenon.
And there is more footage of them on the British Pathe site. Click on the picture to go there.


Luke McKernan said...

The link to the test of my talk on Wilson, Keppel and Betty has changed - it is now


Jonathan Calder said...

Thanks, Luke, I have changed the link.