Cantonese cinema comedian To Sam-ku (1895-1983) was best known for her signature fearsome landlady persona and her roles as the greedy mother or a brothel madam. This year marks 30 years since To's passing. As a tribute to the outstanding and professional actress, the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s "Morning Matinee" will screen five of her films at 11am on Friday mornings in March.
Following the comedian series of "Ko Lo-chuen and Old Master Cute" and "Fatties v.s. Skinnies" in the past few months, the third comedian series, "Tribute to To Sam-ku - the Invincible Landlady in Cantonese Cinema", will be screened on March 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29. The films comprise "Beautiful Woman, Beautiful Car" (1952), featuring To being self-indulgent with a new fortune; "Madam Mei" (1956), in which To plays the wicked brothel madam; "The Eagle Knight and the Crimson Girl" (1960), with Leung Sing-po and To as the hilarious couple; and "The Venture of an Opera Fan" (1962) and "Pigeon Cage" (1964), with To in her typical role as the greedy landlady.
To Sam-ku (real name: To Ying) was originally an opera performer and widely known in Southeast Asia. She acted in over 500 films between 1936 and 1978 and has always been remembered for her uncompromising attitude as the landlady who hunts tenants down for rent as well as her avaricious broad smile when the money is in her hands.
In "Beautiful Woman, Beautiful Car", To and Yee Chau-shui are the impoverished married couple who win a horse race bet and become millionaires overnight. To becomes excessively self-indulgent in her new fortune but embarrasses herself in restaurants, breaks dresses several sizes too small and even becomes a laughing stock by participating in a beauty pageant.
She is at her most wicked in "Madam Mei", playing the greedy brothel madam who could not care less about her girls as long as they bring her profit. In "The Eagle Knight and the Crimson Girl", she plays the fearsome wife to comedian Leung Sing-po, and both of them easily steal the show with their hilarious performances.
In "The Venture of an Opera Fan", To is the greedy landlady who is caught in the middle when waiter Sun Ma Si-tsang and dim sum girl Lam Fung try to impress her to win her favouritism in a petty feud over singing styles. In her signature role as the money-hungry landlady in the comedy "Pigeon Cage", she keeps hunting down Tang Bik-wan, Woo Fung and Ha Ping for rent, but, as usual, her bark is always scarier than her bite.
All the above screenings are in Cantonese without subtitles. The programme is guest-curated by film researcher Yuen Tsz-ying.
Tickets priced at $20 are available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price concessionary 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 on 2111 5999, or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk .
Detailed programme information can be found in "ProFolio 66", 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 at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011mm/2011mm_film.html .
Ends/Friday, February 8, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:03
A film still from "Beautiful Woman, Beautiful Car" (1952).
A film still from "Madam Mei" (1956).
A film still from "The Eagle Knight and the Crimson Girl" (1960).
A film still from "The Venture of an Opera Fan" (1962).
A film still from "Pigeon Cage" (1964).