Though he played everything from kind-hearted lads to quixotic fools, the versatile Cantonese actor Keung Chung-ping (1922-1999) is best remembered for playing the bad guy, bringing vivid life to a variety of cunning schemers, lustful brats and murderous hypocrites.
This year marks the 12th anniversary of Keung's death, and the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s "Morning Matinee" series in December, entitled "The Man We Love to Hate: Keung Chung-ping", will screen five films featuring the different roles of Keung as a tribute to the accomplished actor. The programme is guest curated by film researcher Ms Yuen Tsz-ying.
The screenings will be held on Fridays at 11am on December 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30. The films to be shown are "She Married an Overseas Chinese" (1957), in which Keung played a betrayed husband; "Happiness is for Tomorrow" (1963), with Keung playing an intellectual in a feudalistic family; "Shadow of Tear" (1964), featuring him as a greedy villain; the comedy "The Dairy of a Husband (Part 1)" (1964); and the crime thriller "The Psycho" (1961). All films are in Cantonese without subtitles.
Keung had one of the most hated faces in Cantonese films as he played the villain so convincingly in his 40-year career from the 1940s to the '80s. He started his showbiz career acting in patriotic stage plays during World War II and joined the film business in 1947. Other than appearing in films, he also worked as a voice actor. He also formed Tin Ping Film Co, a production outfit distributing Hong Kong and Taiwan films to North America. Keung stopped acting regularly in the late 1980s due to throat cancer but, with the assistance of a mechanical larynx, he appeared in the gospel film "Sometimes Miracles Do Happen" (1999), his last work.
In "She Married an Overseas Chinese", Keung plays a migrant worker in Southeast Asia who, upon winning the affections of the daughter of a wealthy family played by Kar Ling, tries to sell off his son and his wife played by Nam Hung. In "Happiness is for Tomorrow", Keung turns in one of the most memorable performances of his career, playing an intellectual who has studied in France but is good at nothing other than well-versed whining.
"Shadow of Tear" finds Keung Chung-ping at his conniving best as he plays a greedy villain planning a devious scheme of murder and scamming. In the comedy "The Dairy of a Husband (Part 1)", adapted from a popular radio serial, Keung plays a lewd manager who salivates over a newly hired secretary, and he obligingly gives his character all the caricature he deserves. In "The Psycho", a murderer played by Keung realises that his crime has been accidentally witnessed by someone. He cooks up a scheme, befriending the witness while plotting to have the latter killed. Keung puts on his game face and makes all the cunning and conniving look natural.
Tickets priced at $20 are available at URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Credit card bookings can be made on 2111 5999 or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk.
Detailed programme information can be obtained in "ProFolio 60", distributed at all performance venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900, or browse the webpage www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011mm/2011mm_film.html.
Ends/Friday, November 11, 2011
A film still from "She Married an Overseas Chinese" (1957).
A film still from "Happiness is for Tomorrow" (1963).
A film still from "Shadow of Tear" (1964).