The 1960s started conventionally enough, with many stars from the 1950s continuing to be famous well into the 1960s. The Biggest Studios of the era were no doubt Shaw Brothers, which had a huge production set and a Star Casting system mirroring the United States as well as Mp&Gi later renamed Cathay, which produced contemporary 1950s/60s family and romance films mainly.
In the 1960s, Linda Lin Dai acted in her famous 'Love Without End' (1961) and sang the theme song which has continued to be popular to this day.
Lucilla You Min also continued well into the 1960s until her marriage into a wealthy family in 1964 upon which she retired from acting. Starting from the early 1960s, she acted in a trio of HK-Japan productions in love stories involving a Japanese man and a Chinese woman. These films were similar to the Chinese-Japanese love stories mentioned in my 1940s post on Li Xiang Lan propaganda wartime romance films except that there was no longer any propaganda and there was only pure romance involved in the films.
Above: You Min in a HK-Japan co-production.
Grace Chang acted in the seminal 'Wild, Wild, Rose' (1961) and sang many famous songs in the film. I had a chance to see the entire film and it was great...
Another famous actress of this era was Betty Loh Ti. She was called the 'Classical Beauty' for having beautiful classical features and often appeared in both classical setting as well as modern contemporary setting films.
Above: Betty Loh Ti in a pink cheongsam.
Of course, mentioning Betty Loh Ti would require mentioning Ivy Ling Po whom she acted together in the infamous Huangmei Opera Style movie 'Butterfly Lovers'. This was a hit in Taiwan and South East Asia and shot Ivy Ling Po to fame. Ivy Ling cross-dressed as a man in the film which won her rav reviews. In fact, many female actresses cross-dressed as men during the 1960s which won them huge fans, ironic, given the conservative nature of the times. Another famous pair would be the Cantonese opera duo Bak Shuet Shin and Yam Kin Fai, one always dressing up as a man, and later on Brigette Lin would cross-dress very often in her films.
There were various famous stars of this era, too many for me to name...Carrie Koo, Diana Chang, Ding Hao, Lily Ho, Jenny Hu, Lydia Shum, Tse Yin, Lam Fung, Ka Ling, Josephine Siao, Connie Chan,,etc...the later two being the big names of Cantonese teen idol of the late 1960s with the rise of hippy and swing culture.
In the early 1960s, there was a trio of films dealing with the tensions and conflict between the Mandarin-speaking new immigrants to Hong Kong from the mainland and the Cantonese-speaking majority population of Hong Kong. I've seen one of these films called 'Nanbei YiJia Qing' and its extremely rare to see in a film, both Mandarin and Cantonese spoken and without dubbing into either language. I've included a link below!
By the Late 1960s, there rose a wave of teen idol Cantonese films with Cantonese stars Josephine and Connie as well as many films with sexual content, mirroring the development in the West with the sexual revolution in full swing there.
The end of the decade also saw the suicides of two of Hong Kong's top actresses. One was Linda Lin Dai in 1964 and another Betty Loh Ti in 1968. Both did not pass age 30 when they died. It seems like there was a pattern of top female stars committing suicide throughout the 1930s-1980s with Ruan Ling Yu in the 1930s, Zhou Xuan in the 1950s, Linda and Betty in the 1960s and many other actresses throughout the 60s and 70s.
Almost all reportedly either because of emotional/marriage problems or fall from the limelight.
Mandarin Cinema also started to decline in Hong Kong starting from the late 1960s and continued to decline throughout the 1970s such that by 1980, most film companies in Hong Kong no longer produced separate Cantonese and Mandarin language cinemas and simply made Cantonese films with Mandarin dubbing when necessary.
PS: As there are too many stars of the 1960s whom i haven't covered worth covering, I may do a continuing 1960s retro series of posts on 1960s movie stars later on throughout the year, but this is only tentative, dependent on my spare time..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCOLMoW_skY (Linda Lin Dai's 'Love Without End' 1961)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrPPd_1FtN4 (Betty's 'Dream of the Red Mansion', 1962)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYv3buYaemY&feature=related (Betty's 'Butterfly Lovers', 1964 based on the immortal Chinese folk romance.)
(Betty's 'Darling, Stay At Home', 1968 one of my fav films as its a moralistic feminist story on allowing women to work outside of the home and appreciating one's wife. Also one of Betty's last films before her suicide.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sYzjOF9TUo&feature=related (Betty's 'The Dancing Millionaress' 1964 with her then husband Peter Ho whom she divorced later. This divorce is rumoured to have caused her suicide in 1968.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nefqgiBynmE( 1962 Cantonese-Mandarin Nanbei Yijia Qing so funny!)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oo_yz4ftqTg&feature=PlayList&p=217C47A3F31495DB&index=45 (An English song by Josephine Siao)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=478b4fdZ-ys&feature=related (Josephine Siao 1960s movie)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8CCC4pI2j4&feature=related (Another Josephine Siao 1960s Cantonese film)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9Ywq4QyoNg&feature=related (Josephine Siao at an awards ceremony in 2008.)
1970s coming up...Kungfu fighting, Rise of Masculine Cinema, and Taiwanese Qiong Yao Romances..