Lee Pang-fei and Sima Wah-lung are two character actors fondly remembered for their singular renditions of the detective. The eagle-eyed Lee brought a quietly menacing presence that inspired awe and struck fear into criminals, while Sima embodied the eccentric investigator who goes about his business with wit and offbeat humour. The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s "Morning Matinee" series will screen four films involving the two indispensable detectives on Friday mornings in April.
"Return of the Crime Busters" will be held on April 6, 13, 20 and 27 at the Cinema of the HKFA. The films to be shown are "The Heart-Stealer" (1958), starring Sima and Patrick Tse; "The Ghost that Was Not in the Moonlight" (1962), in which Sima plays dumb to outwit the cunning of the real culprit; Lee's first detective film "Dragnet" (1956); and "The Case of a Beautiful Corpse" (1964), in which Lee hunts high and low to catch the murderer.
Director and scriptwriter Mong Wan's "The Heart-Stealer" was Sima's favourite turn as the detective. A diamond necklace is stolen without a trace. In an adventure of mystery and high-speed action, the police inspector follows hot on the heels of diamond thief Patrick Tse, as love for a terminally ill girl encourages Tse to amend his criminal past.
In director Tso Kea's "The Ghost that Was Not in the Moonlight", detective Sima returns to the mystery-shrouded villa belonging to a businessman played by Lee Ching to open a 10-year-old cold case involving the murders of his wife and daughter. The investigation is complicated by the arrival of a cousin played by Cheung Ying and subsequent supernatural sightings. The sharp-witted detective goes on to unravel the truth behind the ghost-that-was-not and a grieving husband who got away with his crime. Sima again stands out from the star-studded line-up as he plays dumb to outwit the culprit's cunning.
In the debut instalment of the "Dial 999" series, "Dragnet", Lee perfects his take on the iconic Sherlock Holmes image with an odd-looking ensemble of cheongsam, cap and pipe. The film veteran succeeds in nailing the persona of the slick detective, using a masterful mix of honeyed words, fists of violence and wicked threats to make the guilty tell the truth.
In director Ng Wui's "The Case of a Beautiful Corpse", detective Lee makes a grand entrance at the scene of the crime, with the camera zooming in to give his trademark outfit (deerstalker hat and trench coat) a onceover. Despite his late arrival on the scene, the detective leaps into non-stop action, hunting high and low to catch the murderer.
All the films are in Cantonese without subtitles.
Tickets priced at $20 are available now 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 at 2111 5999 or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk.
Detailed programme information can be obtained in "ProFolio 62", which is distributed at all performance venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900 or browse the website at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011mm/2011mm_film.html.
Ends/Tuesday, March 20, 2012
A film still from "The Heart-Stealer" (1958).