Novello is a great subject for Sweet – he had huge success in a wide range of theatrical and film activities, but now people know his name (and the song awards named after him) and perhaps his character in Robert Altman’s Gosford Park, but not much else. But Sweet has chased up many more obscure people, and got the best anecdotes ever from or about them. One favourite, tucked away in the footnotes, concerns an obscure actor who was needed to re-dub his dialogue: ‘Re-recording… was hampered when Basil Sydney** announced that he was a member of a religious sect whose members were forbidden to look upon their own images.’
It goes against the grain to say anything about this book other than extravagant praise - but this is really more of an Apache dance than a tango. The Apache dance was a great favourite in the Paris underworld and then high society of the period, but apparently it was too hard to do, and needed too much space, thus could never be taken up by the general public, and was displaced by the tango. Apache dancing is mentioned in several of the early Agatha Christie novels.
These are two stills from the 1925 film of The Rat, and you can watch the dance on YouTube. The first shows him slitting the skirt - the actress, Sweet says, is Julie Suedo. The photo of Ivor Novello is a picture from the Library of Congress used for an earlier blog entry.
** ADDED LATER the very informative blog reader Ken Nye tells us below in the comments that Basil Sydney was married to Doris Keane, star of Romance, mentioned by both Graham Greene and Nancy Mitford, and a great blog favourite. He also played opposite her in Romance.