Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nostalgic Chinese Cinema Review Series: 1950s Hong Kong Grace+Lucilla+Linda..50年代千娇百媚...

Above: You Min and Linda on cover of 1960s/50s mag.
When the Communist took over mainland China in 1949, so did the Chinese film industry change on the mainland. For the next 4 decades, the mainland Chinese film industry became closed to outside influences and followed a socialist pattern. The mainland Chinese film industry shall thus not be the subject of my series of nostalgic cinema review post-1949 movies. In my 1950s review post, I shall be concentrating on Mandarin cinema in Hong Kong.

By the 1950s, Hong Kong cinema had recovered from the complete shutdown experienced during the Japanese occupation years when many film stars/directors escaped into the interior. By the 1950s, there were two/three movie industries operating in Hong Kong. One was the small Amoy dialect movie industry producing Hokkien language films for the Chinese diaspora in South East Asia and Taiwan. Another one was the better budgeted Cantonese language film industry producing films for Hong Kong residents and also for the overseas Chinese population. But by far the biggest budgeted and star system one was the Mandarin language film industry in Hong Kong which had the best stars, quality, and budgets. These produced movies in Mandarin but often set in contemporary 1950s hong kong giving way to a strange/ironic situation whereby the characters all speak Mandarin in overwhelmingly Cantonese Hong Kong!!!

The Mandarin industry was made up mostly of Shanghainese refugees whom had fled from Communist rule in mainland China and shanghai.

The most famous stars of the era were predominantly female and the most famous star of that era was arguably Linda Lin-Dai. She won Best Actress four times in her career span and acted in many representative films of that era, three of her most famous works being 'The Kingdom and the Beauty' (1957) , 'Bu Liao Qing' (1961), and 'The Blue and the Black' (1966). Thus, she was famous throughout the 50s and well into the 1960s until her suicide in 1964. Her last film 'The Blue and the Black' was not finished at the time of her suicide and they had to get a replacement (with plastic surgery) to finish the leftover scenes.
Grace Chang was another very famous 1950s star. She appeared in many contemporary 1950s setting films as the vivacious bright modern girl with contemporary issues always found in many of her films such as modern love, taking the aeroplane, going travelling, and buying a car, all 'modern' luxuries sought and aspired to by the middle class in Hong Kong of the 1950s.

Her films give a very good representation of what kind of life was aspired to in Hong Kong of the 1950s but definitely do not show accurately what Hong Kong residents lived like back then!

Above: Grace Chang.
And Finally, one of my favourite stars, Lucilla You Min. She was well-known for being the graceful feminine star with a pure 'Jade Girl' image. I really like her alot and she appeared in three (or four) Japanese films in the 1960s in a series of HK-Japan collaborations. More on that in my 1960s post.
Above: Lucilla You Min.
Links (Do have a look! They're priceless scenes, giving a glimpse of HK society then) :
Linda Lin: (Linda's 'Love is a Battlefield' movie) ('The Kingdom and the Beauty' full movie with Eng subs! A great opportunity for those of you to see for the first time a 1950s Chinese film!)

Grace Chang: (One of my FAV of Grace Chang in America circa 1959) (Grace Chang in 'Air Hostess' I've seen this movie, it shows priceless scenes of H.k.,Bangkok, Taipei, Singapore of the 50s in it!)

Lucilla You Min: (From the Famous 'Star, Moon, Sun' 1961)

Although i don't really enjoy watching 1930/40s Chinese movies (I've even seen the silent film 'The Goddess' by Ruan Ling Yu!) as they're way too far away in history for me to enjoy, I love 1950s/60s films as they have three attractions for me:

1) the cheongsam, where else can you see exquisite authentic ala 1950/60s style tight body hugging cheongsams on full display?!

2) the role of women in society back then and aspirations/role models

3)societal attitudes and norms back then as well as scenic scenes of Hong Kong and Asia in the 50s/60s, priceless shots!
PS: All photos come from the internet and particularly from the websites under my 'Chinese Cinema' section on the right hand bar. Do check out those websites for more indepth details!:-)
Hope you like them too!...1960s, my favourite retro decade coming on up!..stay tuned..


suituapui said...

I think I saw all of Lin Dai movies from "Love without end" onwards... My grandpa owned a cinema showing Shaw Brothers movies so I got to watch for free...up till "Blue & Black".

hcpen said...

suituapui: That's so cool! You got to watch all these movies on their theatrical releases!:-)