Film Archive's "Morning Matinee" to pay tribute to legendary star Li Lihua (with photos)
Nicknamed "Xiaomi" (Little Kitten), Li made her acting debut under the age of 17 and went on to act in more than 100 films. Li rarely took a break during her 40-year career, through which she was recognised as "The Evergreen Tree" in the industry. Li passed away on March 19 this year at the age of 92.
Li stars in "The Lady Thief" (1948) as a heroine fighting for the poor who has no choice but to turn her back on family for the sake of justice as her brother is a gang leader. Li, with her face covered with a mask as the Lady Thief for a significant part of the film, is still able to express a myriad of emotions with her fierce glances. The screening will be followed by a talk with veteran film critic Law Kar as speaker.
In "Our Husband" (1949), Li's husband disappears and later a courtesan (Sun Jinglu) suddenly goes to Li claiming that she is having a baby with Li's husband. The film is not only an acting showcase for both Li and Sun, but also displays the actresses in the most gorgeous outfits of the era.
Set in a post-war society at a time of hyperinflation, "Awful Truth" (1950) tells of an interesting mix of characters who cheat and connive for seven gold bars and US$2,000. Playing a mean-spirited courtesan who struggles to survive in high society, Li steals the show in a flirty scene with Yan Jun, who disguises himself as an official in the film.
Li partnered with Han Fei in "Should They Marry?" (1951) to play a pair of lovers whose wedding keeps being postponed due to financial obstacles. The film highlights the bitter realities of life with comedic touches. Li's devastating reaction after realising the dream of forming a family is being crushed is proof of her immense acting talent as well as a reflection of harsh realities.
The melodrama "Blue Sky" (1953) is the earliest work of Li with Shaw & Sons kept by the HKFA. In the film, Li takes up all the family burdens to look after her blind husband. However, her husband thinks that Li is having an affair with another man and later Li is accused of murder. The convincing performance by Li fully expresses the tragedy of the character while the child star siblings Yan Wei (aka John Chiang) and Yan Chang (aka Paul Chun) respectively playing Li's son in his younger and elder years act in natural ways.
In "Blood Will Tell" (1955), Li stars as a scheming wife who snitches on her husband and blackmails her daughter. Li, wearing a tight-fitting qipao, exudes the aura and charm of an evil beauty. Made as a collaboration between studios in Hong Kong and Japan and shot in Tokyo, the film is regarded as the first Chinese film shot in Eastmancolor.
"Dangerous Beauty" (1956) depicts the bitter romance of Xi Shi (Li) and Fan Li (Cheung Ying) as well as Xi deciding to give herself to the King of Wu for the sake of her country. The producer invited a Chinese dance virtuoso from Taiwan to train Li and the other actresses for the dancing scenes in the film. Cheung as a Cantonese film actor shows his dedication in managing to deliver all of his lines in Mandarin.
"Always in My Heart" (1956) features a kind-hearted blind beauty (Li) and her unattractive yet gifted husband (Lo Wei). Playing a blind woman most of the time, Li once again showcases her brilliant performance skills, conveying conflicting emotions with her expressive eyes at the first sight of her husband after her vision is restored. The film is meticulously arranged by using narration to guide the audience through the emotional ups and downs of the characters.
The romantic comedy "No Time for Love" (1957) was the first title produced by the film company founded by Li's husband, Yan Jun. The couple co-star as a woman pretending to be a rich heiress in the hope of finding a wealthy husband and a barber posing as a rich businessman. The film features a number of light catchy tunes with hilarious lyrics to delight the audience.
"Our Husband" and "Blue Sky" are dubbed in Cantonese and the other films are in Mandarin. "Awful Truth" and "Should They Marry?" have Chinese and English subtitles, "Blood Will Tell" has Japanese side-titles, and the other films are without subtitles.
Tickets priced at $30 are now available at URBTIX (www.urbtix.hk). For credit card telephone bookings, please call 2111 5999. For programme details, please visit www.lcsd.gov.hk/ce/CulturalService/HKFA/en_US/web/hkfa/programmesandexhibitions/2017llh/index.html or call 2739 2139.
Ends/Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:00
Issued at HKT 12:00