Film Archive retrospective to showcase classic beauty of Betty Loh Ti (with photos)

     To commemorate Betty Loh Ti's 80th birth anniversary, the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will present "Beauty in Myriad Shades: A Tribute to Betty Loh Ti on Her 80th Birth Anniversary" from August 25 to September 30, screening 21 of Loh's films and covering her various acting phases and screen personas. In addition, the HKFA will hold a free exhibition, "The Everlasting Legend Betty Loh Ti", from August 25 to October 3 at the 1/F Foyer, reviewing Loh's film career which took her from a supporting actress to a celebrated screen diva.

     Betty Loh Ti (1937-1968), born Xi Zhongyi, was the youngest of six siblings. This led to her pet name Liu Di and subsequently her stage name Loh Ti with its similar pronunciation. At the age of 15, Loh was signed by Great Wall Movie Enterprises Ltd and made her screen debut in "The Peerless Beauty" (1953). Loh joined Shaw Brothers in 1958 and was immediately assigned major roles, earning her the epithet the "Classic Beauty". In 1960, Loh participated in the Cannes Film Festival with "The Enchanting Shadow" (1960), which catapulted her to worldwide fame. Later, she won Best Leading Actress at the second Golden Horse Awards with "The Love Eterne" (1963). Loh turned to Motion Picture & General Investment Ltd in 1964, and in 1967 she founded the Golden Eagle Film Company with her actor brother Kelly Lai Chen and director Yuan Qiufeng. Though her film career was sadly cut short, Loh played a wide array of characters, and her talent and charm remain unique to this day.

     In her early career, Loh was mainly featured in supporting roles, which unleashed her potential despite her brief appearances. In "Diamond Thief" (1955), the maid played by Loh is falsely accused of theft. Although her part is brief, the unyielding fire in her eyes and her razor-sharp tongue during an interrogation impressed the audiences. Alluring office lady Loh is a tenant in "Apartment for Women" (1956) who falls victim to her own self-indulgent abandon. Loh fleshed out the role with a complex range of emotions. While Hsia Moon starred as a social butterfly in "Sunrise" (1956), Loh steals the show as an innocent orphaned girl with a headful of mousy hair. "A Widow's Tears" (1956) tells of a widow who is bullied by her husband's family, in which Loh plays her spoilt, reckless and vain sister-in-law, making this a rarity in the history of her screen personas.
     Loh enchants the audience with a beauty that embodies an ethereal grace regardless of the genres and images she plays. Loh first starred as the leading actress in suspense thriller "Suspicion" (1957). Featured as a young widow who hides deep and dark secrets, Loh displayed an astounding maturity at the age of 20. In "The Deformed" (1960), it is arranged for Loh to marry a deformed heir played by King Hu, and she became lauded as the "Queen of Tragedy" after her heart-wrenching performance. Loh collaborated with her mentor director Li Han-hsiang in "The Enchanting Shadow". The masterfully crafted sets, cinematography and mise-en scène bring the sorrowful beauty of Loh's Nie Xiaoqian to the fore. Loh made her first appearance in comedy as a playful and matchmaking maid in "The Bride Napping" (1962), excelling in her comedic role. In the musical "The Dancing Millionaires" (1964), Loh partnered with her husband Peter Chen Ho, often referred to as the "King of Comedy", in romantic dancing sequences. Wearing a red dancing dress, Loh adds a graceful touch to the stereotypical hard-nosed urban working woman. Playing the roles of an attentive housewife and a capable career woman, Loh wows the audience with her many trendy outfits in "Darling Stay at Home" (1968).

     In the mid-1950s, "huangmei diao" movies became popular and Loh was featured in numerous classics of the genre. Dubbed the "Daiyu Reincarnated" in "Dream of the Red Chamber" (1962), Loh displays elegance not only in her look but also in her demeanour and aura. Starring Loh and Ivy Ling Po, the award-winning work "The Love Eterne" uses the scenery to create sentiments that linger and haunt. It is also a representative work of Loh, who plays the scene-stealing Zhu Yingtai. In "The Lucky Purse" (1966), Loh appears as a noble lady who is at once kind-hearted, sharp-witted and poised. "Lady in the Moon" (1966) is based on ancient Chinese mythology and Loh, with her ethereal beauty, brings the role of the fairy goddess Chang'e to life. With a fantastical and whimsical storyline, "The Magic Fan" (1967) sees Loh play the dual role of a facetious daughter and a good fairy.
     War not only robbed Loh of her father but also her childhood, and this personal experience adds depth and poignancy to her performances in war films. "Sons of Good Earth" (1965) follows Loh risking her life to sneak into the enemy's camp and save her guerrilla husband. In "The Longest Night" (1965), Loh is wary of an injured journalist who was with the Japanese troops, but she comes to feel sympathy with his plight, taking the audience on an emotional roller coaster with just the right balance of tension and release. "A Debt of Blood" (1966) centres on the war-torn Ma family, with Loh playing a daughter and creating a dignified heroine in a time of fear and chaos.
     Loh detached herself briefly from her signature "elegant melodramatic" persona to join the wuxia craze in the mid-1960s cinema. She even took up horse-riding training in preparation for her role as a swordswoman with remarkable equestrian skills who takes revenge for her father in "Travel with a Sword" (1968). "The Wandering Swordsman" (1968) and "Duel at the Supreme Gate" (1968) were produced by the film company founded by Loh as well as her last works. In both films Loh co-stars with her brother Kelly Lai Chen and displays her impressive martial arts and acting skills.
     The HKFA will hold three seminars and four post-screening talks hosted by various kinds of film specialists, namely Shu Kei, Shui Shing, Daniel Chan, Lam Kam-po, Lau Yam, David Chan, Timmy Chen, Carolyn Lau, Cheng Fat-ming, Dr Stephanie Ng and Dr Yau Ching, who will share their views on Loh's movies and her film career. All seminars and talks will be conducted in Cantonese with free admission.
     "Diamond Thief", "Apartment for Women", "Sunrise", "A Widow's Tears" and "Suspicion" are dubbed in Cantonese and the other films are in Mandarin. Some of the films have Chinese subtitles or both Chinese and English subtitles.
     Tickets priced at $45 are now available at URBTIX ( For credit card telephone bookings, please call 2111 5999. For programme details, please visit, or call 2739 2139.

Ends/Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:00