The enchanting performances of child stars have left many charming memories in Hong Kong cinema. In view of the enthusiastic response to the recent Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) programme "Merry-Go-Movies ? Star Kids", additional screenings for 13 of the films will be held in December for audiences to enjoy lovable child star performances from Fung Bo-bo, Wong Oi-ming, Michael Lai, Shek Sau, Peter Dunn, Josephine Siao, Bruce Lee, Connie Chan Po-chu and others on the silver screen.
The additional screenings include "The Great Devotion" (1960), featuring Fung Bo-bo, Michael Lai and Wong Oi-ming; "Little Twin Actresses" (1962), with Fung's entertaining acting in playing twins; "My Grandchild" (1964), with Fung acting in one of her best cross-dressing roles alongside comedian Leung Sing-po; "The Seven Kids" (1961), a movie with performances by a number of child stars; "Talented Children Getting Robbers" (1960), a family detective thriller with captivating performances from Fung and Lai; "Deep in Love" (1960), featuring Wong and Fung as Patrick Tse's children from different mothers; and "Back Door"(1960).
Also not to be missed is "Garden of Repose" (1964), starring Shek Sau as a spoilt heir; "For Better... For Worse" (1959), with Peter Dunn's trademark beaming grin; "Nobody's Child" (1960), a newly restored print starring Josephine Siao; "The Scout Master" (1959), starring Connie Chan Po-chu as a young boy scout; "The Unroyal Prince" (1960), featuring a refined performance by Chan; and "The Kid" (1950), with an outstanding performance by the young Bruce Lee.
The life of Fung Bo-bo has been full of miracles. Starting out at the age of 5, she was a bright new talent on the screen. In director Chor Yuen's famous work "The Great Devotion", Fung and other child stars Michael Lai and Wong Oi-ming give heart-wrenching performances in a dilemma marked by love for the family. "Little Twin Actresses" claims to have starred six Fung Bo-bos. Besides appearing as the twins, Fung also plays a mother and a son in an opera, a naval officer and a geisha while offering entertaining singing and gestures. In "My Grandchild", Fung shows her comedic talents when partnered with the comedy legend Leung Sing-po.
Michael Lai, who began his acting career at the age of 5, had a lovable look with his round eyes and slightly plump appearance. In "Talented Children Getting Robbers", Fung and Lai play quick-witted detectives with a brother-sisterly rapport in their expressions. In his performance in "The Seven Kids", in which he played a punk-haired high school kid, Lai brought to the role layers of street smarts, impulse and fervency that are the very image of youth rebellion and angst.
Wong Oi-ming always played the quiet and obedient type, and many of her roles saw her appear as the kind younger daughter or the poor girl struggling to survive with younger siblings in tow. Her adorable appearance seemed to have a layer of melancholy, and she earned a reputation as one of the best child stars in Asia. She plays a young daughter reunited with her estranged mother in "Deep in Love", and in director Li Han-hsiang's "Back Door" she gives a touching performance as a child neglected and unwanted by her parents.
Shek Sau may be known for his dashing good looks now, but he was also once an adorable child actor in the 1950s and '60s. In a change from playing a gentle and timid youth, he gives a remarkable performance as a despicable, ruthless and spoilt heir in "Garden of Repose". Peter Dunn became an actor with the MP&GI film company after going through rigorous auditioning. At the age of 8, he played the son of Li Mei in "For Better... For Worse". His trademark beaming cheek-to-cheek grin revealing two cute buck teeth and his natural performance in bringing the family together with tears and smiles are hard to forget.
With her bright, round eyes and clean-cut appearance, Josephine Siao started her acting career at the age of 6, and became a household name at 11 with her outstanding role in "Nobody's Child", in which her performance alongside a monkey, a dog and a street performer was sentimental. The rendition of a popular ballad on motherly love sung by Siao remains well known to this day.
Connie Chan Po-chu studied Peking opera under master Fen Juhua from a young age and became Yam Kim-fai's formal apprentice at 10. She often played male roles on stage. In her early film "The Scout Master", she plays a mischievous boy scout prankster, and in "The Unroyal Prince", she confidently holds her own in her scenes opposite her famous co-stars.
Bruce Lee was already a child star before he hit superstardom as a martial arts star. "The Kid" marked his first leading role as a child actor, shining with convincing interpretations of his mischievous rascal character's various layers.
"For Better... For Worse", "Garden of Repose", "Nobody's Child" and "Back Door" are in Mandarin, and the other films are in Cantonese. Some films have Chinese and English subtitles. Tickets are priced at $40 and are now available at URBTIX. 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 at 2111 5999, or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk.
For programme enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900, or browse the webpage at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2013sk/2013sk_index.html.
Ends/Thursday, December 5, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:26