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'Love Me or Leave Me' to be screened at Film Archive

Hollywood movie "Love Me or Leave Me" (1955), starring Doris Day and James Cagney, has inspired one of Cantonese cinema's best productions, the backstage Cantonese opera film "The Sorrowful Lute" (1957), and its remake, "Tears of Pearl" (1965). The three films will be showcased at the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)’s upcoming programme "Backstage Musical: Cantonese Opera Style".

Though not a typical backstage musical, "Love Me or Leave Me" is based on the real-life story of singer Ruth Etting and her gangster husband/manager. Fascinated by the "Pygmalion" tug-of-war between the James Cagney and Doris Day characters, acclaimed Cantonese star Ng Cho-fan produced the classic "The Sorrowful Lute", portraying a tale of love, fame and power. He recreated Cagney's role in "Tears of Pearl" in 1965.

"Love Me or Leave Me" will be shown at 7.30pm on the two consecutive Saturdays (November 18 and 25) at the Cinema of the HKFA. Eight other films on Cantonese backstage musicals will be shown from November 17 to 26.

Hong Kong Cinema and Cantonese opera have enjoyed long and interesting ties with many films adapted from the opera. The "Backstage Musical: Cantonese Opera Style", in support of Cantonese Opera Day 2006, will screen films about the backstage opera.

With a brilliant performance from Josephine Siao, "Hu-du-men" (1996) is a film about passing on our heritage. It explores what for Cantonese opera actors is "hu-du-men" — the imaginary line between the stage and the backstage.The film has English subtitles.

Also starring Josephine Siao, Ann Hui’s "The Spooky Bunch" (1980) highlights the traditions of Cantonese opera. Cheung Chau Island serves as a giant backstage as a confluence of the new and the old, the living and the dead, the young and the old, the real and the theatrical, the yin and the yang.

The programme also includes "Stage Glamour" (1952), which provides a refreshing and glamorous look at the stage stars Yam Kim-fai and Pak Suet-sin, as well as one of Cantonese cinema's most accomplished works, "Parents' Heart" (1955).

"A Melancholy Melody" (Parts one and two) (1952) vividly portrays the power play in the Cantonese opera trade whereas the rare documentary "Goddess of Mercy Celebrates Her Birthday at Heung Fa Shan"(1966) captures precious scenes behind the stage rarely seen by the public.

Other than "Love Me or Leave Me", which is in English, and "Hu-du-men", which has English subtitles, all other films are in Cantonese.

A seminar entitled "Bunching Spooky at Hu-Du-Men", to be conducted in Cantonese, is scheduled for November 26 at 5pm at the Cinema of Hong Kong Film Archive. Guest speakers for the seminar are Ann Hui, film director of "The Spooky Bunch" and Shu Kei, film director of "Hu-du-men".

Tickets priced at $30 are available at URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. There will be a 10% discount for Friends of LCSD venues.

For programme information, call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900, or visit . Reservations can be made on 27349009 or on the internet at .

Ends/Wednesday, November 15, 2006
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