Saturday, May 5, 2018 at 9:15PM
Harvard Film Archive, 24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Hong Kong’s mighty Shaw Brothers studio lent a new sheen to the territory’s musicals in the mid-1960s when it brought in director Umetsugu Inoue from Japan. A standout among Inoue’s seventeen productions for Shaw is Hong Kong Nocturne, a lavish song, dance and drama confection that reworked his earlier Japanese film Tonight We’ll Dance against new backdrops.
Cheng Pei-pei, Lily Ho and Chin Ping star as the Chia sisters, the backup troupe for their musician father on Hong Kong’s nightclub circuit. When they become fed up with Dad siphoning away their salaries, the girls leave home to pursue ballet, screen stardom or marriage. The trio eventually overcome personal obstacles, band together, and aim to hit the big time in the televised Hong Kong Music Lovers a-go-go stage show.
Melodrama piles on thick and fast when a show-must-go-on plot takes root, but the Chia sisters and their friends remain happy to step out with spontaneous song. Wild flights of fantasy appear in one sister’s dreams, and the girls’ partnership with a budding composer brings a local theme to their ultimate production, a widescreen musical extravaganza on expansive, Broadway-style sets. Though the lead actresses did not lend their voices to the movie’s soundtrack—a job left to pros like singer Tsin Ting—the three display ample dance floor talents and remain a joy to follow as they struggle to fulfill their dreams of the spotlight. – Adapted from Tim Youngs in Asia Sings! A Survey of Asian Musical Films.
Directed by Umetsugu Inoue. With Peter Chen Ho, Cheng Pei-pei, Chin Ping
Hong Kong 1967, digital video, color, 128 min. Mandarin with English subtitles
Tickets go on sale 45 minutes prior to show time. The HFA does not do advance ticket sales.
Curated by Tom Vick and generously funded by the Inoue & Tsukioka Movie Foundation.
Special thanks: Sabrina Baracetti, Thomas Bertacche, Roger Garcia and Mark Schilling—the Far East Film Festival, Udine, Italy and the National Film Archive of Japan, Tokyo.