Thursday, September 27, 2007

Kwan Shan - and romantic movies of the 60's

I was in my teens and movies were the only exciting thing to do then apart from going to school. I had a lot of opportunities to watch movies because my maternal grandmother was a movie fan. She watched The Beauty and the Kingdom starring Lin Dai and Chao Lei 63 times!

In the 50s and 60s, Kwan Shan was THE leading man in most romance movies that came out of Hong Kong.I remember him most of all because not only did he enjoy the special distinction of being the first Hong Kong actor to win the Best Actor Award at the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland, he also had very good media image as a good man.

And he was connected to a novella that is held dear to me and my father.That film, Kwan Shan's debut movie, was The True Story of Ah Q (1958). At that time, the actor was in the employment of the Great Wall Film Company.

The Story of Ah Q was based on a novel by Lu Shun. It is about a man who accepts everything that life throws at him - the good, the bad and the very ugly. It's a great story.

In a way, Kwan Shan was really lucky to land that role. Of course, the fact that he was also a great actor helped a lot.

Kwan Shan was born in 1933 in China. When civil war broke up in China in the 1940s, Kwan Shan emigrated to Hong Kong. There, in the British colony, he found work as a worker in an iron foundary.He laboured at his job for five months before he got his break in the acting industry. When his second film, The Nature of Spring, came along in 1958, Kwan Shan met his soul mate. She was Chang Ping-Sie, and she was his co-star in the movie.

They married in 1960. Three years later, in 1963, their daughter Rosamund was born.

If Kwan Shan's fame in the Chinese movie industry could be attributed to any particular film, it would be Love Without End.

The movie which moved Kwan Shan's popularity was also responsible for immortalising Asia's movie queen Lin Dai in the cinematic hall of fame.

Kwan Shan went on to make several more hit movies like Vermillion Door, The Blue and the Black, Farewell, My Love and Love Eterne (with Betty Loh Ti and Ivy Ling Po).

The actor's shining star began to lose its lustre by the mid-70s. However, in the 80s, he continued to make sporadic appearances in movies like Dream Lover, Police Story II, A Better Tomorrow II, Lady in Black, and Executioners.

Kwan Shan acted in a total of 51 movies before he called it a day at the studios. These days, actors will be proud to announce that they acted in about four movies in a year.

Back in Kwan Shan's days, actors normally acted in about two or three movies simultaneously. And the wages were nothing to shout about either.

According to records, Kwan Shan's last movie was Wonder Seven, back in 1994. At that time, he was already 61 years old.

His movie career stretched over 36 years. An outstanding record of professionalism by any standards.

Kwan Shan's long career in acting is matched by few of his peers. The fact that he had his heyday is something to look back with pride.

Not many Hong Kong actors have so many golden opportunities and that many lucky breaks like him.And not many actors would be remembered so well by their Asian fans.

I would always remember him as I shed so many tears in the darkened cinemas of Rex, Lido, Cathay and Palace of Sibu.

And if the Internet could supply more information about him, I would gladly read it.

But gone are the days when we girls would rush to the cinema for a good session of carthasis (/Greek origin)

ASnd whenever I see a DVD from Shaw Brothers, the first thought I would have would be of my wonderful she smelled with the scent of ylang ylang in her hair.

1 memories:

Unknown said...

I have been meaning to write something like this on one of my blogs and this has given me an idea. Cheers.



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