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Hong Kong Filmography Volume III (1950-1952)

Preface

The Hong Kong Filmography, Volume III lists out the entire roster of Hong Kong films produced between 1950-52. There are a total of 587 film titles, including Cantonese, Mandarin and Amoy-dialect features, and documentaries.

The film list in this volume is based on the filmographies of Cantonese and Mandarin films published earlier in the Hong Kong International Film Festival's catalogues. We have also researched into the following newspapers published in Hong Kong: Wah Kiu Yat Po, Sing Tao Daily, Kung Sheung Daily News, Kung Sheung Evening News, Wen Wei Po, Ta Kung Pao, Sing Pao, Hong Kong Commercial Daily, Sun Sang Evening News. We have also researched into the Macau newspaper Tai Chung Pou; Guangzhou's Yuehua Bao, Kuaihuo Bao; Singapore's Sin Chew Jit Poh, Nanyang Siang Pau, Nan Chiau Jit Pao, Nan Chiau Jit Pao (Evening Edition); Malaysia's Sing Pin Jih Pao; Thailand's Chuanminpao, Chinese Daily News, Chung Yuan Evening News; The Philippines' Chinese Commercial News, Indonesia's Sin Po, Seng Hwo Pao, Harian the Free Press, Sumatra People's Daily, etc. We also looked into publications such as Hong Kong's Screen Voice Pictorial, World Magazine, The Great Wall Pictorial, etc. We extracted information from their advertisements, film reviews, production reports, etc.

We have also collected up to 129 tapes or prints of Hong Kong films, 257 film brochures, and 150 handbills.

My textual research was aided by Ms Janice Chow who also undertook tasks of proofing and collating, and adding stills to each entry. After this phase of work is completed, the information was handed over to my colleagues in the editorial department for write-up, editing, translating, proofreading, etc.

We were able to find most of the materials for Volume III, and in more or less complete form. But there are still many entries that are missing the most basic information. It is hoped that future editions of this volume may fill in these missing gaps.

Production of Amoy-dialect films in Hong Kong began to gain momentum from 1951 onwards. Because these films were mostly released outside Hong Kong, it is difficult to obtain information. Fortunately, Guangzhou's Zhongshan Library possesses a comprehensive newspaper collection published in countries where Amoy-dialect films were released (such as Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines). From this collection, we could glean information of Amoy-dialect films released in these territories. However, the Zhongshan Library's collection is far from complete, thus related information remains scanty.

It should be mentioned also that many Mandarin films produced in Hong Kong were never shown in the territory because no release schedules could be found for them. Sometimes this resulted in a great discrepancy between release dates and production dates and indeed, certain films were never released. Detailed of these films, in such cases, would not be published in the volume.

While compiling my research, I discovered that production output was increasing year by year. However, in 1951, the output decreased by nearly 20 pictures from the previous year. The reason for this was that at the end of 1950, the Korean War erupted and an UN embargo was in force, banning the supply of raw film stock to Hong Kong. Because of this, producers were forced to cut down on production. The situation did not improve until the later half of 1951.

I also discovered that Mandarin film output in 1952 doubled over 1951. The reason for this was that the markets in Singapore and Malaysia at the time were prospering and there was a great demand for Mandarin pictures. The budgets were small and pre-sales alone could raise the production funds for a Mandarin picture. Box-office receipts generated in Hong Kong and Macau made it even more profitable. Hence, Mandarin film output was on the increase.

Another discovery is that in 1950, the one genre that was in demand was martial arts films (62 were produced that year, constituting one-third of total output). In 1951 and 1952, the genre in demand was comedy (40 pictures, one-fourth of total output and 73 pictures, one-third of total output respectively). The reason was that the popularity of the respective genres resulted in copycat productions. When the audience got tired of these pictures, output decreased, and when another genre became popular, everybody joined the trend, and output increased.

One more thing that is worthy of mention is that Hong Kong's own unique film genre, the 'airwave novel films,' reached its golden era in 1950 (16 pictures of the genre produced that year).


Yu Mo-wan
Research Officer

 

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