Film Archive's "Morning Matinee" features romances of regular onscreen pairs (with photos)
Cheung Wood-yau and Pak Yin's film personas as the poor husband and long-suffering housewife are deeply ingrained. Apart from being onscreen partners, in real life they were also great collaborators who co-founded film companies. Cheung, playing a man with three lovers, finds himself perfectly matched with Pak in "The Lady in Black" (1953). Their doomed relationship is filled with romance and the duo call it quits with a beautiful dance. In "Anna" (1955), Pak is married to an emotionally distant socialite and when she meets with her first love Cheung again, Cheung's tenderness sparks their love once more.
Patrick Tse's suave charisma and Josephine Siao's tender tenacity made them excellent and irresistible screen lovers. In "Winter Love" (1968), Siao is a girl with multiple images, from a privileged heiress to a prostitute and finally a dutiful daughter, and she takes Tse on an emotional roller-coaster. "The Window" (1968) stars Tse as a street thug who accidentally kills a man in a robbery. When Tse later learns that the victim has a blind daughter (Siao), he tries to redeem himself by taking care of her, making the film a moving love story.
Yam Kim-fai and Pak Suet-sin are the towering figures of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong, having made immense contributions on and off the screen. Their screen pairings are regarded as the most iconic by fans of Cantonese opera. Playing a reckless princess in "Unruly Princess, Arrogant Husband" (1957), Pak demands her husband-to-be (Yam) to follow all her instructions strictly after marriage, entertaining the audience with opposites-attract romance. Scripted by Tong Tik-sang, "Happy Wedding" (1959) is one of several collaborations by the trio of Yam, Pak and Tong. The film features Pak as a spoilt princess who decides to marry a musician (Yam) for his talents without knowing that he is actually a prince in distress. The film not only showcases the signature of Tong's work, but also presents a classic pairing of Yam and Pak.
Mak Bing-wing and Fung Wong Nui, another pair in Cantonese opera, usually played the feisty odd couple with the former fierce and the latter unbending in their onscreen personas, making the duo and their works popular. "Lady General Fa Muk-lan" (1961) follows the signature style of Mak and Fung's troupe in reinterpreting traditional operatic actions, especially horse-riding techniques. In a scene in which Lau Yuen-to (Mak) bids farewell to Fa Muk-lan (Fung), the duo unleash their chemistry and acrobatic talents by performing spectacular horse-riding moves as if with real horses. "A Maid Commander-in-Chief and a Rash General" (1962) tells of hostility between Mak and Fung as misunderstandings escalate into war.
The straight arrow Chin Feng and the sexy "little wild cat" Chung Ching were beloved screen partners well known for their hit Mandarin-language musicals. In "Flower Princess" (1959), Chung plays dual roles as a flower shop girl failing to draw the attention of Chin and a songstress whom Chin falls head over heels for. "A Challenge of Love" (1960) features Chung as a young girl who loves to sing and thus strikes up a feud with her school's new teacher (Chin) as he thinks Chung is too noisy. But in true romantic odd-couple fashion, the two gradually fall in love.
Lui Kay, one of the biggest male stars in the 1960s, and Connie Chan, the "movie fan princess", collaborated numerous times onscreen, and their perfectly matched appearances turned Cantonese youth musicals into a trend. "Girls are Flowers" (1966) centres on an unlikely romance between a charismatic playboy (Lui) and a private teacher (Chan). The Cinderella-esque tale of "Summer and Spring" (1967) makes use of singing and dancing to deliver romance. Chan is treated like a servant by her mean-spirited aunt, but Chan's beautiful appearance and singing talents enchant a handsome musician (Lui). In the tragic romance "Love, Dream, Hate" (1968), Chan is duped into thinking that she has a terminal illness by her good friend and thus is forced to leave her lover (Lui) by pretending to be a cheating gold digger.
"Flower Princess" and "A Challenge of Love" are in Mandarin, while the other films are in Cantonese. "The Window" has Chinese and English subtitles 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 call 2739 2139 or visit www.lcsd.gov.hk/ce/CulturalService/HKFA/en_US/web/hkfa/programmesandexhibitions/2018mm-ddisol/index.html.
Ends/Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Issued at HKT 15:00
Issued at HKT 15:00