重現陶秦遺失了的時期                                             2014 11                 香港電影資料館通訊季刋

 
 
 
《儂本多情》(1961)*、《皆大歡喜》(1961) 兩部陶秦導演的作品出土,剛好多少填補了《四千金》1957之後,《千嬌百媚》1961之前的空白,其實那幾年正是他創作生涯最旺盛的時期,先後替電懋和邵氏兩大對壘陣營拍了多部電影,可惜除了《童軍教練》(1959) 的粵語配音版曾在香港電影資料館放映過之外,其餘的到目前為止都找不著。
 
                                                                                陶秦 (右) 與《四千金》作者鄭慧及戲中演員蘇鳳和林翠
 
陶秦1915-1969在香港的導演當中至今我仍認為是最「洋化」的一個,資料顯示他畢業於上海聖約翰大學外文系,英語水平必然無可置疑,然而他一生人從未在西方居留過,他接觸西方文化的渠道大概只是間接透過書本和電影,或許有如英若誠的英語,是憑著自己虛擬的想像去掌握,無懈可擊之餘,總免不了間中會過猶不及,或稍有不足之處,但陶秦他帶點 mannerism 的「洋」放在電影反而有一種風格化的美感和趣味,我們都記得《四千金》開場四姊妹先後去同一間士多買煙斗給父親作生日禮物,那間裝修得如此有格調的士多在五十年代香港應該很難見到,反更似荷里活電影的佈景,《龍翔鳳舞》李湄張仲文母親的縫紉學校也如是。
 
《四千金》沖蒸餾架啡場景,中產洋化趣味盡在其中
 
我在網上找陶秦作品年表,資料都很零星,只有香港影庫網站搜羅得較齊全,但排列相當凌亂,看來是按照電影在香港公映的年份為次序,我認為如果要認真研究一個導演的作品,釐定他創作的先後次序極為重要,應該是以電影開拍的時間排列作準,一部電影完成了,可能由於某種原因、或市場策略等因素,放映日期往往反讓稍後拍攝的一部率先推出,像他 1956 年拍成的《春潮》要推遲到 1960 年才在香港上映,而且在 1957-1961 那段期間陶秦每年都開拍多部電影,像跳槽邵氏之前單在 1958 年就替電懋拍了四部電影之多,但究竟是拍文藝片《天長地久》(1959) 還是鬧劇《三星伴月》(1959) 在先?我覺得如能仔細在作品年表反映出來,就更完整,對研究亦更有幫助。
 
 
我從手頭上電懋當年的官方刊物《國際電影》對它們公司新片開鏡的報導,排列了陶秦在電懋時期作品開拍的先後順序,列出如下:
1956年《驚魂記》(1956)、《春潮》(1960)、《無頭案》()1957) 三片。
1957年《四千金》(1957)、《小情人》(1958)、《提防小手》(1958)、《龍翔鳳舞》(1959)四片。
1958年《童軍教練》(1959)、《天長地久》(1959)、《三星伴月》(1959)、《蘭閨風雲》(1959) 四片。
 
1956 1958 年間陶秦替電懋導演了十一部電影,他應該是在 1958 年底或 59 年初重返邵氏(電懋之前他也曾在邵氏拍過多部電影),1959 4 月號的《國際電影》有報導那年的亞洲影展,香港區電懋的參展作品是《龍翔鳳舞》和新加盟的尤敏主演的《玉女私情》,而邵氏則派出了《江山美人》(1959) 和《千金小姐》(1959),後者的導演正是陶秦,而主演的竟然是電懋的合約演員林翠,我也不明白箇中的因由,那篇報導對該片有以下的介紹:「《千金小姐》為一時裝喜劇 …… 描寫一妙齡少女與中年男子(嚴俊)之間的戀愛故事,穿插若干心理描寫及驚險、緊張場面,為本年度邵氏公司力作之一。」
 
相信這是陶秦重返邵氏後第一部作品,邵氏選它參展正好顯示公司不單對陶秦的重視,也帶有鼓舞他士氣的作用吧。我沒有收藏邵氏的官方刊物《南國電影》,他在邵氏的作品年表只能參照香港影庫網站提供的資料,以公映年份而不是開拍年份來排列,但一年間如有多部電影先後上映,哪部先上,哪部後上的次序就不得而知了。《千嬌百媚》之前陶秦在邵氏的作品以公映日期排列如下:
1959 年《千金小姐》、《慾網》兩部。
1960 年《狂戀》、《曉風殘月》兩部。
1961 年《儂本多情》、《皆大歡喜》、《金喇叭》、《千嬌百媚》、《不了情》五部。
 
我用《千嬌百媚》做終點,主要是之後陶秦絕大部分電影均用彩色菲林拍攝(除了《不了情》、《女人與小偷》(1963) 和《血痕鏡》(1967)),而邵氏的彩色片已差不多全都經天映製成 DVD 得以保存,但《千嬌百媚》之前留存下來的作品就極少,除了《四千金》、《童軍教練》,其餘作品都沒有在市面上流通,例外是《提防小手》和《三星伴月》,有影迷曾借過 VCD 版給我,但都是從支離破碎的拷貝錄過來,影音質素慘不忍睹,真的沒心機看下去,另外《龍翔鳳舞》曾於 1980 年在 TVB 深夜播放過,應該有不少熱心影迷錄影下來,我也曾將這個電視播放版本放上國內的網站(當時 YouTube 尚有十分鐘的限制),質素當然甚差,也總算聊勝於無,所以《儂本多情》和《皆大歡喜》這兩部黑白製作的重現確屬珍貴。
 
從《儂本多情》仍是方銀幕而《皆大歡喜》改用上闊銀幕比例拍攝來推斷,前者應該是較早開拍,女主角杜娟和俞鳳至演一對來自相當西式的中產家庭,仍在唸書的姊妹,陶秦大量強調這個家庭的洋化和中產的生活方式,像起床是用音樂鬧鐘,早餐是西式,家中有多部電話分機,日常出入九龍塘一帶(我們看到七號巴士和喇沙中學校宿 ……),在學校組樂隊(值得留意片中樂隊屬 acoustic,似乎當時電結他仍未普及),在家中舉行聖誕舞會,…… 同學中對杜娟展開熱烈追求是從日本回流返來的喬莊,從頗為粗淺的刻劃仍看到這角色野性和反叛的一面,小林旭那時應該當紅了吧。
 
儂本多情
 
影片開場約三十分鐘,一向刁蠻任性的杜娟遇上她家世交(其實是她父親年輕時的情敵)剛從澳洲回來的兒子,駕著一部大型福特房車的張沖,正好上演一幕當 playgirl 遇上 playboy。比《儂本多情》早一年推出,電懋的《六月新娘》和《溫柔鄉》兩片的男主角張揚也是類似的「愛情玩家」,但在兩片他最終都被女主角馴服成了她們的愛情俘虜,而《儂本多情》閱世未深的杜娟卻始終敵不過情場老手張沖,張沖後來更把目標移向她較清純的妹妹,導致姊妹反目,最後當然是兩姊妹認清張沖的真面目,重修舊好,結局可能很老套,但還是那一句:過程才是最重要。
 
如果《儂本多情》是五六十年代流行小說的格局,《皆大歡喜》則更貼近都市喜劇類型,大富人家的公子陳厚從外國返港,在報章上徵婚,列出古怪的擇偶條件,轟動全城,四個女主角丁寧、丁紅、范麗、杜娟正就是其中的應徵者,編劇(也是陶秦)沒有給予她們姓名,都是以「乜小姐」作識別,而有趣的是原來她們沒有一個存心嫁入豪門,各人皆另有企圖,丁寧是記者,想深入瞭解徵婚來龍去脈,范麗是個售貨員,一心發明星夢,利用和陳厚拍拖去引起傳媒注視,打響知名度,丁紅則打算借他過橋赴美國探望由她亡夫家人撫養的兒子,杜娟的動機最簡單,只不過和同學打賭,看能否找來陳厚做她的舞伴,結果當然是各取所需,皆大歡喜,又似乎隱喻當時的社會風氣並不是那麼貪慕虛榮。
 
 
《皆大歡喜》覆蓋的層面比《儂本多情》更廣泛,有著都市萬花筒的繽紛感,四個形象各異的女主角加上陳厚張沖的 buddy 配搭,枝葉豐盛,片中多個場景,包括在片場搭的或實景,都在不自覺中替未來的觀眾紀錄下六十年代初期香港的民情,風貌,也是寶藏了。
 
值得要提醒觀眾入場請早,片頭用上一幅一幅油畫巧妙帶出字幕,更有陳厚和四個女主角穿插其中,構思別出心裁,生趣活潑充滿動感,有如一場歌舞,好像預告了陶秦接著替邵氏執導的三部歌舞大片——《千嬌百媚》、《花團錦蔟》(1963)、《萬花迎春》(1964),正式踏入他的彩色攝製時代。
 
看陶秦的作品年表,發覺除了早期在邵氏可能拍過一兩部古裝片(從片名猜測),1956 年加盟電懋打後十多年直至他在 1969 年病逝,一直都是拍時裝片,而都市式時裝片確是他的強項,到稍後黃梅調武打片盛行的年代,他依然在開拍一部又一部的時裝片,似盡一己之力去抵抗時代洪流,不免令人有點斯人獨憔悴的感慨,想不到到他臨終前最後一部電影《陰陽刀》(1969) 終於都是逃不過拍了一部古裝武俠片,即使不算是創作生涯的污點,也不免是憾事。
 
* 文中片名後所括的年份為香港上映年份。
 
 
 
 
 
Rediscovering Doe Ching’s Lost Era
 
The recovery of two lost films directed by Doe Ching, Oh Boys! Oh Girls! (1961) * and All the Best (1961), has filled in many of the blanks in his oeuvre between Our Sister Hedy (1957) and Les Belles (1961).The period represents the height of Doe’s creative career, when he wrote and directed many films for rival studios MP & GI (Motion Picture & General Investment Co Ltd) and Shaw Brothers. Sadly, with the exception of the Cantonese-dubbed copy of The Scout Master (previously screened by the Hong Kong Film Archive), none of Doe’s other films from this period have been found.
 
 
Even today, I consider Doe Ching (1915–69) to be the most ‘Westernised’ of all Hong Kong directors. According to records, Doe was a foreign language graduate from the Saint John’s University in Shanghai. Though his English language proficiency was a given, Doe never lived abroad. His exposure to Western cultures was likely limited to books and movies. Relying on his imagination, his interpretation of the Western cultures was much like (actor) Ying Ruocheng’s spoken English – prone to exaggeration with occasional lapses but otherwise impeccable. However, Doe’s adoption of ‘Western mannerisms’ lent a unique style and aesthetic to his films that is highly amusing. We all recall the opening scene of Our Sister Hedy, where the four sisters separately visit the same shop to buy a smoking pipe for their father’s birthday. Such a stylishly decorated shop was a rare sight in Hong Kong during the 1950s and had all the trappings of a Hollywood set. The same could be said of the sewing school set in Calendar Girl (1959).
 
Searching online for Doe’s filmography, I realised that the information available was often incomplete. Although the Hong Kong Movie Database (HKMDB) website provides the most complete filmography, the chronological order of the films is somewhat disorganised. The list is organised by the year of each film’s theatrical release in Hong Kong. I believe that in order to study a director in depth, it’s important to establish an accurate production timeline. His filmography should be organised by the start date of each production. After a film was completed, its theatrical release could be delayed or moved up for a host of reasons, including marketing. It was not unusual for a film that went into production later to be released earlier. For instance, Doe’s Torrents of Spring was completed in 1956 but its Hong Kong release was delayed until 1960. Between 1957 and 1961, Doe made multiple films each year. In 1958, the year before he jumped ship to work for Shaw Brothers, he made at least four films for MP & GI. However, did the melodrama, The Tragedy of Love (1959) or did the slapstick comedy, The More the Merrier (1959) go into production first? I think if such details were included, the filmography would be more comprehensive and useful.
 
                                                                                                                     岳楓與陶秦
 
Instead, I relied on the MP & GI official journal International Screen that reported on the company’s latest productions, and re-arranged Doe’s filmography during his tenure at MP & GI according to the start date of principal photography:
1956: Surprise (1956)/ Torrents of Spring/ Murder in the Night (1957) (three films)
1957: Our Sister Hedy/ Little Darling (1958)/ Beware of Pickpockets (1958)/ Calendar Girl (four films)
1958: The Scout Master/ The Tragedy of Love/ The More the Merrier/ Wedding Bells for Hedy (1959) (four films)
 
Between 1956 and 1958, Doe directed a total of 11 films for MP & GI. It appears that he returned to Shaw Brothers (where Doe previously worked prior to his tenure in MP & GI) in late 1958 or early 1959. According to reports from the Asian Film Festival featured in the April 1959 issue of International Screen, MP & GI’s entries to the festival that year were Calendar Girl and Her Tender Heart (1959), with the latter starring Lucilla You Min, the new addition to MP & GI’s stable of stars. Shaws’ entries to the festival included The Kingdom and the Beauty (1959) and Darling Daughter (1959). The latter was directed by Doe Ching and surprisingly, starred MP & GI contracted artist, Jeanette Lin Tsui. I have no idea how this occurred. But here’s an excerpt of the film’s description from the promotional material: ‘Darling Daughter is a modern comedy…depicting the love story between a young girl and a middle-aged man (Yan Jun) filled with psychological conflicts and thrilling adventures. One of Shaw Brothers’ most anticipated productions of the year.’
 
Darling Daughter was probably Doe’s first production after returning to Shaw Brothers. The studio’s decision to enter it into the prestigious festival was likely a gesture of appreciation and support for the prodigal director. Without the Shaw Brothers’ official journal Southern Screen archives at my disposal, I can only refer to the HKMDB website for information regarding Doe’s filmography during his tenure at Shaw Brothers. The films are listed on the website according to the year in which they were released rather than when they went into production. For films released in the same year, there is also no way of ascertaining the order in which they were released. The Shaw pictures directed by Doe up to Les Belles, according to the year of their releases, are listed as follows: 
1959: Darling Daughter/ Desire (two films)
1960: How to Marry a Millionaire/ Twilight Hours (two films)
1961: Oh Boys! Oh Girls!/ All the Best/ The Golden Trumpet/ Les Belles/ Love Without End (five films)
 
I chose to end with Les Belles because most of Doe’s later works were shot in colour (with the exception of Love Without End, The Lady and the Thief [1963] and The Mirror [1967]) and almost all of the Shaw Brothers colour motion pictures have been digitally remastered and re-released on DVD by Celestial Pictures. But very few of Doe’s films prior to Les Belles have survived. Apart from Our Sister Hedy and The Scout Master, none are in circulation. A few movie fans have lent me VCD copies of Beware of Pickpockets and The More the Merrier but they were transferred from damaged film copies. The sound and picture quality was so poor that I could not bear to even finish watching them. Calendar Girl was broadcast by the Television Broadcasts Limited during late night timeslots in 1980. Many movie fans recorded the broadcast. I even posted the televised version on a few Mainland websites (when YouTube still had a 10-minute limit on uploads). Of course, the quality is poor, but it’s better than nothing. That’s why the rediscovery of Doe’s two black-and-white pictures, Oh Boys! Oh Girls! and All the Best is a cause for celebration.
 
Oh Boys! Oh Girls! was shot in standard film aspect ratio while All the Best was shot in widescreen. Based on this fact, we can assume the former was shot first. In the film, Margaret Tu Chuan and Florence Yu Fung-chi play schoolgirls, sisters from a modern middle-class family that embraces Western values. The director highlights the family’s Western and middle-class lifestyle: the sisters wake up to music from the alarm clock, they eat a Western breakfast, there are multiple phones in the house, they frequent the affluent Kowloon Tong neighbourhood (with Route 7 buses and the La Salle College frequently entering the frame), they play in a school band (an acoustic band before the popular advent of electric guitars) and they host a Christmas ball… In the film, Tu Chuan is pursued by a classmate played by Chiao Chuang. Chiao’s character recently returned from Japan. Despite the superficial characterisation, we still get a sense of the character’s wild and rebellious side. At the time, Akira Kobayashi was extremely popular.
 
 
30 minutes into the film, the capricious and wilful Tu Chuan has a chance encounter with the son of a family friend (her father’s rival from his youth). Returning from Austrailia, the young man, played by Paul Chang Chung, drives past in a large Ford sedan. A classic ‘playgirl meets playboy’ scene ensues. Chang Chung played similar ‘playboy’ characters in June Bride (1960) and Bachelors Beware (1960), two MP & GI films that were released in the previous year. In the two earlier films, the leading lady tames the playboy by the end of the movie. But in Oh Boys! Oh Girls! Tu Chuan falls victim to the experienced playboy’s charms. Later, he even begins to target her younger sister, causing the two sisters to fall out. In the end, when the sisters both realise what type of man Chang Chung is, they reconcile. The ending may seem corny but what matters is how we get there.
 
If Oh Boys! Oh Girls! represents a genre akin to the pulp fiction of the 1950s and 60s, then All the Best certainly falls into the genre of the urban comedy. In the latter film, Peter Chen Ho plays a rich heir who has recently returned from overseas. The young man creates a citywide sensation when he places a newspaper advertisement to solicit a bride who must meet a bizarre set of requirements. The film’s four female leads, Grace Ting Ning, Pat Ting Hung, Fanny Fan Lai and Margaret Tu Chuan are among the applicants. The scriptwriter (Doe Ching, the director himself) did not give the characters complete names; they’re only referred to as Miss so-and-so. What’s interesting is that none of the four women are interested in marrying into a rich family; each has a different ulterior motive. Ting Ning is an reporter trying to uncover the truth behind Chen’s marriage solicitation. Fan Lai is a sales clerk/aspiring actress who wants to increase her media exposure by dating the rich heir. As for Ting Hung, she wants to fool Chen into taking her to the US, so that she can visit her son, who has been placed under the care of her late husband’s family. Tu Chuan has the most straightforward motivation; she placed a bet with her schoolmates that she could get Chen to be her dance partner at the school ball. In the end, they each get what they want. It appears to be a metaphor for the shift in prevailing social values of the period. 
 
All the Best covers a much wider social spectrum than Oh Boys! Oh Girls!; the city entices with a kaleidoscope of colours. The combination of the four distinct female characters and Chen Ho/Chang Chung’s ‘buddy’ characters are the source of rich subplots. The many settings, whether studio sets or on location, unconsciously document for future audiences the social landscape of Hong Kong and the local way of life during the early 1960s. The film is a gem for many reasons.
 
 
I would encourage audiences to arrive early for the screening. The film’s opening title sequence is not to be missed. A series of oil paintings are incorporated into the title and credit sequence, as Chen Ho and the four female leads enter in and out of the picture. The result is an inspired, energy-filled spectacle, much like a dance number from a musical. Perhaps it serves notice for Doe’s future foray into directing major musicals for Shaw Brothers that include Les Belles, Love Parade (1963) and The Dancing Millionairess (1964), marking his official entry into the era of colour film.
 
Looking through his filmography, I realised that other than one or two period pictures (judging from the titles) that Doe Ching directed during his early tenure at Shaw Brothers, after joining MP & GI in 1956 and up until 1969, the year he passed away from illness, Doe’s oeuvre solely consists of modern-day dramas. Urban dramas were his specialty. Late in his career, when huangmei diao opera films and martial arts films were at the height of popularity, Doe doggedly continued to make modern dramas, as if he was trying to single-handedly stem the tide. It comes as a surprise then to discover that the veteran filmmaker succumbed in the end. Doe’s final picture was the martial arts film, Twin Blades of Doom (1969). Although the film is not considered a blemish on the director’s remarkable career, it’s certainly a pity.
 
(Translated by Sandy Ng)
 
 
* In brackets after each film title is the year of the film’s theatrical release in Hong Kong.