Do Do Cheng and Cora Miao are actresses whose comedy talents have largely been forgotten. Both are blessed with a great sense of timing, both can deliver lines with a quirky twist of Cantonese words and both are good at slapstick and expressive body language. The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) will screen four films to showcase their comic skills.
The film programme "Funny Girls: Do Do Cheng and Cora Miao", guest curated by Mr Edward Lam, will be held from December 17 to January 8, 2012 at the Cinema of the HKFA.
The films to be shown include Do Do Cheng's "The Top Bet" (1991), with the actress playing the Goddess of Gamblers, and "Wonder Women" (1987), in which she is a wannabe beauty queen. Also set to screen are Cora Miao's films "The Other 1/2 & the Other 1/2" (1988), featuring Miao as a wife whose husband is having an affair, and "Carry on Dancing" (1988), a comedy in which she plays twin sisters alongside James Wong, Sun Ma Si-tsang, Richard Ng and Eric Tsang. Filmmaker Mr Kam Kwok-leung will share his experiences with audience members after the screening of "Carry on Dancing" on December 17 and after "The Other 1/2 & the Other 1/2" on January 7.
To complement the screenings, a seminar entitled "Carry on Laughing" will be held on December 18 at 5pm at the cinema of the HKFA. The programmer of the HKFA, Mr Sam Ho, and Mr Lam will be the speakers. The seminar will be conducted in Cantonese. Admission is free.
In the early Cantonese cinema era, actresses starred in a wide variety of films, and stars like Tang Pik-wan, Fong Yim-fun, Pak Suet-sin, Pak Yin and Nam Hung all developed a comic dimension in their personas. Cheng and Miao are descendants of that tradition, which they embellish with the natural elegance of such Western stars as Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton. Both Cheng and Miao honed their talents on television in the 1970s and continued with fruitful turns on the big screen in the 1980s and the 1990s. Hong Kong cinema has had an abundance of funny men in its history but when it comes to women who make the audience laugh, the pickings are much slimmer. The accomplishments of comediennes like Cheng and Miao are often neglected.
Directed by Jeff Lau and Corey Yuen, "The Top Bet" is a sequel to the blockbuster "All for the Winner" (1990). Co-starring Anita Mui, the film sees Do Do Cheng lay claim to the title Goddess of Gamblers.
Cheng's best performance as a comedienne is in director Kam Kwok-leung's "Wonder Women". She plays a wannabe beauty queen who develops an unlikely friendship with another contestant. Cheng shines in this female odd-couple film, fashioning sisterly chemistry with her co-star while creating one of the most memorable characters in 1980s cinema. By turns simple and vain, beautiful and shallow, urban and unsophisticated, happy-go-lucky and ambitious, her character is a vivid embodiment of the go-go '80s, her charm divinely heightened by an endearing speech impediment.
People in the late 1980s were in an immigrating mood. Men and women moved to North America and elsewhere, leaving their other halves in the then colony. In "The Other 1/2 & the Other 1/2", affection grows between two lonely hearts as Kam Kwok-leung and Tien Niu play two such halves staying in Hong Kong. Miao is the wife of one of the halves, and she turns in a wonderfully nuanced performance that is threatening and sympathetic, manipulative and vulnerable.
Miao's understated approach to comedy is on fine display in the overlooked gem "Carry on Dancing". She plays twin sisters, one committed to a mental asylum by her husband and the other with a fiancé plotting to end his commitment. The sisters decide to switch places for the adventures. Partnering with the comedians Sun Ma Si-tsang, Richard Ng and Eric Tsang, Miao animates the two characters with their own quirks and complexities.
The films are in Cantonese with Chinese and English subtitles.
Tickets priced at $30 are available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price concessionary 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 found in "ProFolio 60", distributed at all performing 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/2011fg/2011fg_index.html.
Ends/Thursday, December 1, 2011
A film still from "The Top Bet" (1991).
A film still from "Wonder Women" (1987).
A film still from "The Other 1/2 & the Other 1/2" (1988).
A film still from "Carry on Dancing" (1988).