To celebrate the 50th anniversary of "Old Master Cute", the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) will screen the very first "Old Master Cute" film to mark this significant occasion, as well as to serve as a tribute to the actor Ko Lo-chuen.
The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s "Morning Matinee" will screen a series of comedies at 11am on Friday mornings from December to March for audiences to enjoy the acting talents of veteran comedians. "Comedian Series I: Ko Lo-chuen and Old Master Cute" will be screened on December 7, 14, 21, and 28, showcasing Ko Lo-chuen's "Two Lucky Fools" (1959), "Movie Fans" (1966), "Old Master" (1965) and "A Big Mess" (1969).
Ko Lo-chuen (1909-1988), whose real name was Ng Kui-chuen, acted in over 850 films. Introduced to the film industry by his brother Ng Cho-fan, he started as a production assistant and specialised in playing villainous characters. With his unique appearance and distinctive voice, he built up a well-known comedic persona playing a wide range of characters. He was a versatile actor who could perform any emotion from compassion and righteousness to evil villainy. His starring role was as the comic strip character Old Master Cute, a beloved role that seemed to be tailored-made for him.
In addition to screening films with Ko Lo-chuen, the "Morning Matinee" will showcase films starring various comedians over the next three months. Films featuring four "chubby" and four "skinny" comedians will be screened followed by a film starring the signature "landlady" persona, To Sam-ku. The chubby comedians to be featured are Liu Enjia, Yiu Kwong-chao, Lau Kwai-hong and Pang Pang, who besides their acting skills are are also remembered for their plumpness and loveable round faces. The four skinny comedians are Sai Kwa Pau, Lam Kwun-shan, Hui Ying-sau and Chiang Kwong-chao, who took advantage of their thin looks to evoke laughter.
"Comedian Series II: Fatties v.s. Skinnies" will feature eight comic actors in January and February. January 4, 11, 18 and 25 will feature plump actors’ films including Yiu Kwang-chao's "A Fool in the Army" (1959), Lau Kwai-hong's "Auyeung Tak and His Double" (1952), Liu Enjia's "The Greatest Love Affair on Earth" (1964), and Pang Pang's "Terror in the Phoenix Chamber" (1963). The films featuring slim actors are Lam Kwun-shan's "A Small Gift from Afar" (1950), Sai Kwa Pau's "Wong Fei-hung's story: Iron Cock against Centipede" (1956), Hui Ying-sau's "The Prince Incognito" (1961) and Chiang Kwong-chiu's "Inspectress General" (1961) will be shown on February 1, 8, 15, and 22 respectively.
Some of the chubby characters are remembered for their happiness. Yiu Kwong-chao (1908-1967) began his film career during the silent film era in Shanghai and acted in 170 films after moving to Hong Kong. He was often cast as the lecherous boss or the forgetful father. Acting for the first time in the Cantonese film "A Fool in the Army", Yiu constantly switches between heavily accented Cantonese and Mandarin, causing confusion for other characters and creating comedy gold for the audience.
Lau Kwai-hong (1918-1955), one of the best known comedy stars before World War II, acted in more than 370 films. Lau perfected the art of playing the bumbling klutz, creating comedy out of clumsiness. Donning huge glasses, a mustache, a fur coat and a with a trusty pipe as weapon, Lau's swordsman character in "Auyeung Tak and His Double" is at his best when delivering justice and making the audience laugh with his offbeat persona.
Liu Enjia (1918-1968) was one of the most-featured and versatile actors in the MP & GI Co Ltd. In director Wong Tin-lam's "The Greatest Love Affair on Earth", the fight between the two hefty stars Liu and Leung Sing-po is the highlight of the film.
Born in Malaysia, Pang Pang was known for his large figure, which helped him build his funny "clumsy dolt" persona, and his performance as Zhu Bajie became his most popular role. In "Terror in the Phoenix Chamber", a comedy with romance and thrills, Pang and Leung Sing-po steal the show as the plump duo trying to protect their employer (Patricia Lam Fung) from the creature, only to fail at every turn due to their cowardice and clumsiness.
Cantonese Opera star Lam Kwun-shan (1891-1964) often played comic characters and was dubbed the "Master of Humour". In "A Small Gift from Afar", Lam plays a stingy miser in a hilarious birthday scene where the stubborn father-in-law encounters his bumbling son-in-law Cheung Ying. Appearing in over 600 films, Sai Kwa Pau (1918-2001) was known for his signature stutter and clumsy appearance. His most remembered role is "Cocky So" in the long-running Wong Fei-hung series. In "Wong Fei-hung story: Iron Cock against Centipede", Cocky So gets into trouble when he brings the chickens he's charged to watch over to the cockfight ring. Master Wong is forced to intervene and expel So for his misbehaviour.
Hui Ying-sau (1910-1995), also a Cantonese opera star and comic actor, featured in over 200 films, and was best known for playing the righteous simpleton or clumsy father. In "The Prince Incognito", Hui plays the righteous classmate of a scheming scholar played by Yam Kim-fai, and is involved in a memorable courting scene with co-star Yam Bing-yee. Acting in 300 films, Chiang Kuang-chao (1924-2000) was a versatile comic performer who could sing, dance and even perform Peking Opera. In "Inspectress General", Chiang perfects the style of accented Cantonese to great comedic effect.
The "Comedian Series III: Tribute to To Sam-ku – the Invincible Landlady in Cantonese Cinema" will be screened in March with films including "Beautiful Woman, Beautiful Car" (1952), "Madam Mei" (1956), "The Eagle Knight and the Crimson Girl" (1960), "The Venture of an Opera Fan" (1962) and "Pigeon Cage" (1964).
All films are in Cantonese. "The Morning Matinee" series is guest-curated by film researcher Yuen Tsz-ying.
Tickets for "Ko Lo-chuen and Old Master Cute" and the "chubby" comedian films are now available at URBTIX outlets. Tickets for screenings in February will be available from January 1 onwards, while tickets for "Comedian Series III: Tribute to To Sam-ku – the Invincible Landlady in Cantonese Cinema" will be available on February 1 onwards.
Tickets are priced at $20 are available at URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities and their minders, 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 the "ProFolio 66" leaflet, 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/Thursday, December 6, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:57
A film still from "Old Master" (1965).
A film still from "A fool in the Army" (1959).
A film still from "Auyeung Tak and His Double" (1952).
A film still from "The Greatest Love Affair on Earth" (1964).
A film still from "Terror in the Phoenix Chamber" (1963).
A film still from "A Small Gift from Afar" (1950).
A film still from "Wong Fei-hung's story: Iron Cock against Centipede" (1956).
A film still from "Inspectress General" (1961).