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Hong Kong Filmography Volume III (1950-1952)

From the Editor

The publications of the Hong Kong Film Archive's first two volumes of the Hong Kong Filmography garnered much praise and words of encouragement from our overseas supporters and industry insiders in Hong Kong. Following a review, we wasted no time to devote ourselves to putting out the third volume of the Filmography. I regard it as an honour to be able to continue the editorial work on this volume. Because of the greater number of films to be included, the volume is more substantial and the challenges are thus greater when compared with the last volume. Primary source materials and video resources are much more available than for the 40s covered by the last volume. Hence, the number of words and stills has also increased, constituting harder editing and translation work.

The number of films produced in the 50s was five times more than that of the 40s. In total, over 2,500 films were produced, and we decided to cover this period in three volumes. The current Volume III covers the period 1950-52, including a total of some 580 films. Apart from the Cantonese and Mandarin productions, we have also included the Amoy-dialect films that were produced to cater to Amoy-speaking community in Southeast Asia. Of the nearly 600 films covered, only one-fifth of the titles are available on viewing tapes. For the rest, we had to rely on old newspapers, magazines, handbills, etc, to cull the details and synopses.

The 50s was a period of burgeoning prosperity for Hong Kong. The film industry was flourishing and cinema was the people's main source of entertainment. The Korean War, which broke out at the end of 1950, resulted in the UN embargo that cut off the supply of raw film stock to the film industry. Hard times descended and a number of production companies had to shut down. In 1952, the situation began to turn around as the film industry began to be supplied with film stock imported from the UK, Belgium, and Japan. In China itself, the pre-war film industry based in Shanghai was virtually relocated to Hong Kong. Talents such as Zhang Shankun, Fei Mu, Richard Poh and others began to produce pictures in Hong Kong. A market was cultivated in Southeast Asia. All these factors led to the recovery of the film industry in 1952 and its gradual prosperity throughout the decade.

As a legatee of the traditions of the 40s, Hong Kong cinema continued to produce fantasy martial arts pictures, melodramas and comedies. These genres remained the backbone of the industry. Not a few were adapted from so-called 'airwave novels.' Among the most distinguished productions of the period were Dawn Must Come (aka Tears of the Pearl River), produced by the Shanghai expatriate Cai Chusheng; Kaleidoscope, produced by the South China Motion Picture Workers Union to raise funds for the building of a permanent office; The Dividing Wall (aka The Happiness of Living Together, First Episode), a social-realist comedy produced by the Dragon-Horse (Loon-Ma) Films; and Modern Red Chamber Dream, a Great Wall production and the box-office champion of 1952.

To summarise, the Hong Kong cinema produced quite a number of classics in the brief span of time between 1950-52. The pictures dealt more with realist subjects and society, and the level of film technique was immensely improved. Cinematographer Ho Look-ying, for example, had assiduously applied himself to the skills of lap dissolves and superimpositions; Kwong Tzan, boss of a production studio, had founded his own patent for a sound recording machine; the Wan Brothers had successfully exploited matte shots to create new set designs.

The Hong Kong Filmography, Volume III, adopting a completely new design and layout, has incorporated more notes with information on historical and production backgrounds, and has included more quality stills in enlarged formats. The design adopts a more flexible approach and in order to enhance the reader's interest, the sources of synopses and notes are included for the reference of researchers.

We have relied on our Research Officer, Mr Yu Mo-wan, to correct mistakes and discrepancies of information arising from the sources, such as the writings of names, release dates, etc. I thank him for his advice and opinions. I also owe a lot to Mr Law Kar, Programmer of the Hong Kong International Film Festival, for his unreserved advice and assistance. The software for Volume III's index and chronology design was supplied by the Keyoung Information Ltd, who also provided computer-input services. The cover and layout was designed by Maxi Communications Ltd. I thank the staff of these two companies for their high efficiency and dedicated services.

Above all, I must thank my colleagues in the Film Archive for their cooperation and coordination. In particular, I must thank Mr Stephen Teo, the English translator, and my assistants, Ms Agnes Lam, Ms May Ng, and Ms Kwok Ching-ling, for their tireless work. In addition, I had a corps of colleagues that helped in writing, proofreading, crosschecking data, preparing captions, and selecting stills, etc. They include Ms Janice Chow, Ms Monique Shiu, Mr Chris Tsang, Mr Isaac Leung, Ms June Tse, Ms Angela Tong, Ms Priscilla Chan, Ms Zoe Tang, Mr Tsang Hin-koon, Mr Wallace Kwong, Ms Yuen Tsz-ying, Ms Teri Chan, Ms Janet Young, Ms Kimmy So, Ms Edith Lee, Ms To Siu-tip, Mr Victor Ha, Ms Karen So, Mr Leung Man, Mr Abdool Ramjahn, Ms Angel Shing, Ms Irene Leung, Mr Elvis Leung, Ms Winnie Sum, Ms Lee Chun-wai, Ms Tong Ka-wai and Ms Siu Man-wai. To all of them, a very sincere 'Thank You.'


Winnie Fu
Editor

 

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