俠骨柔情的南海十三郎The Chivalrous and Tender-hearted Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long

作者:吳月華

南海十三郎的漫像(《藝林》18期,1937年11月15日)和照片(《藝林》43期,1938年12月1日)

《南海十三郎》(1997)將南海十三郎帶到近代觀眾的視線內,不但知道他是名才華橫溢的粵劇編劇,也是唐滌生的啟蒙導師,還有他非凡的家勢和孤傲耿直的性格。南海十三郎不只是著名的粵劇編劇,也是一名電影導演和編劇,部份電影是改編自他的粵劇名作。可惜南海十三郎戰後因意外頭部受傷,精神出了問題[1],創作之路戛然而止。戰後跟他有關的電影作品皆是改編自其戰前名劇。因此戰前才是他編導電影的黃金時代,然而這些電影拷貝卻早已消失於戰火中,下文只能以作品的題材和故事,窺探他有情有義的風骨。

銀幕訴親情

南海十三郎原名江譽鏐,又名江譽球、江楓,出身於南海前清太史江孔殷家。十三郎於上海出生,母親是父親的六姨太,兄弟中排行十三,故自稱南海十三郎。十三郎出世不久,母親便離世,由乳娘帶大。十三郎絕頂聰明,但自幼失母,又是庶出,在複雜的家庭背景下長大,培養出他孤傲的性格。十三郎的姐姐江畹徵是粵劇迷,尤愛薛覺先,聰穎的十三郎因常看戲而學會寫劇本,在薛覺先的誠邀下,替覺先聲劇團撰寫劇本,最終文采非凡的十三郎便憑薛覺先主演的《心聲淚影》而成名。[2]

1936年,在粵劇界成名後的十三郎開始他的銀色旅途。南海十三郎首齣電影編導作品是倫理劇《兒女債》(1936),改編自他編的粵劇《零落花無語》。故事講述父親(林坤山飾)是名大律師,兒子(吳楚帆飾)子承父業,唯女兒(林雪蝶飾)因母故後被父交由外祖母育,終淪為舞女。兄在舞場巧遇胞妹,與她相認,但妹因維護兄的名聲,誤殺其流氓丈夫,不知情的兄長於是出庭替胞妹辯護,而父親是審理命案的法官。最終,父秉公辦理,女兒罪成,被判死刑。[3]有傳這故事改編自南海十三郎的身世,傳聞其妻妾眾多的父親在滬認識其母,育有一子一女,父離滬時只帶走他,女兒被留在上海,女兒輾轉來港成為舞女,南海十三郎在不知情下,於歡場認識胞妹並墮愛河,唯傳說中的胞妹未有涉及命案。十三郎明顯以此故事控訴為父者不盡父責之惡行,釀成社會悲劇,據說其父看過影片也認為兒子這做法是對的。[4]無論這傳聞是否真偽,從此作品可看到他對具權勢者不當行為的嚴苛態度,對女性/弱者的同情,這特色在他日後作品亦以不同的形式出現。

《兒女債》票房成績不弱於舞台演出,南海十三郎續將其另一齣粵劇《去年今夕》,改編成其第二齣電影作品《萬惡之夫》(1937)。[5]故事中錢方(伊秋水飾)慕戀白璧(梁添添飾)大灑金錢,但璧愛的是其弟錢霜(謝天飾),方在勸阻二人戀情時錯殺璧母,因而入獄,璧亦離開傷心之地。數年後,方死在獄中,霜對璧念念不忘,到處尋找璧,二人最終重遇。[6]據說影片劇情緊湊,對白「字字珠璣,精彩絕倫」。[7]另一齣涉及階級矛盾的南海十三郎電影作品,是他編劇的《公子哥兒》(1937;汪福慶導演),影片故事主人翁是一名富家子卻投身記者行業,專職報導基層的苦與樂,最後更為拯救一名窮家女而大義滅親。[8]這兩齣影片同樣涉及制度和公義與人倫的衝突,最終公義彰顯,不義的人終得苦果。

圖一:在粵劇界已享負盛名的南海十三郎編導的電影作品《兒女債》(1936)在省港澳各地公映的廣告(《香港工商日報》1936年3月29日)。

抗戰電影

1937年,日本侵華,全面抗戰,愛國熱血的南海十三郎立刻回應時代,編導抗戰電影《百戰餘生》(1937)。在戰火下,女主角(梅綺飾)為治病母,淪為舞女,百般無奈[9];男主角(李猛飾)則棄筆從戎保衞國土[10]影片以忠孝節烈作影片宣傳[11],這亦正好反映南海十三郎的抗戰宗旨。1938年,華南電影界發起義拍國防電影《最後關頭》賑災籌款,南海十三郎積參與編導工作,並捐款五十元,出錢出力。影片由七段故事編成,首六段是組織大學生、工商界、電影界、婦女、農民、軍人六個界別的人抗戰故事,每段故事代表一種階級的社會意識和覺悟的過程,最後到了「最後關頭」,以總動員奮力抗戰,在陣前高唱中華民族不會亡〉一歌作結。[12]影片動員演員三千,南海十三郎負責領導啟明影業公司攝製隊,導演婦女界別的故事,並與五位導演聯合導演第七段的總結片段。[13]婦女的故事講述女學生林美組織舊同學們成立救傷隊,但那些女士對戰場的事情只當作新聞看看,不願上前線,反倒是一群貧苦出身的舞女願意組成救傷隊往前線。[14]從這故事的情節可見南海十三郎對弱勢社群,特別是舞女的肯定。

除了參與當代的國防電影,南海十三郎亦編導具抗戰意識的古裝片,如《趙子龍》和《夜盜紅綃》(1940)。前者是關於趙子龍救阿斗的忠義故事,但側重携民渡江劉備重興王業,具抗戰意識;後者則是改編自其同名粵劇名作,講述忠義之士為保家衛國而斬情絲,影片更有女主角徐人心唱〈溫尋念故鄉〉、〈羞唱相思詞〉和麥炳榮唱〈流亡曲〉、〈塞外吟〉,還有〈明月樓〉和〈夜盜紅綃〉兩支曲和一齣名為《鄉紳的兒子》的短歌劇,可見兩齣古裝片皆是抗戰意甚濃的電影。[15]除了正面描寫古今戰爭下的社會和人心以宣揚抗戰意識,南海十三郎亦以同情和溫柔的態度側寫當代女性。

圖二:南海十三郎參與的華南電影界總動員抗戰電影《最後關頭》(1938)在香港和廣州上映的廣告(《香港工商日報》1938年3月2日)。

大時代的女性

1939年,南海十三郎親自將其舞台名劇《女兒香》搬上銀幕。粵劇版本原是古裝的背景,是一個情深義重的才女愛上寡情負義男生的故事,但電影版本側是描寫抗戰期間,富家女仰慕革命家的英雄氣概,在充滿矛盾的情況,仍結為夫婦,是一齣帶有濃厚抗戰意識的愛情片。粵劇版本原由薛覺先開山,反串演富家女,曾於舞台連演六年。[16]名伶盧海天在舞台也曾演此劇,欲改編成電影,於是徵得譚秀珍和南海十三郎同意,組成三友影業公司出品此片。考量過在電影反串未必帶來滿意效果,故影片改由譚秀珍任女主角,盧海天山也初登銀幕,並邀得小明星於片中客串演唱三曲,當中包括主題曲〈女兒香〉。[17]南海十三郎曾因其他電影公司欲刪改情節,拒絕電影公司改編此劇[18],再加上改編的種種考量,可見南海十三郎並非只靠搬演舞台名劇作招徠,而是十分重視自己的作品,並對改編經過深思熟慮。此劇於戰後亦改編成三個電影版本,是他被改編成電影次數最多的作品。

除改編粵劇,南海十三郎亦將塘西名歌妓花影恨的故事改編成《一代名花花影恨》(1940)。花影恨是一名愛國的塘西歌姬,積極參與義唱,亦曾多次成為義唱個人籌款最高的歌姬,更將自己的私蓄拿出捐獻祖國賑災,但最終卻因落戶無望,感懷身世,於生辰之日服毒自殺而逝。[19]花影恨逝世後,電影公司爭着拍攝其故事,最後花影恨家屬因南海十三郎與花影恨有相當交情,熟知花影恨思想和為人,決定將此重任交給南海十三郎。南海十三郎與製作經驗豐富的黃岱合導此片,選定性格和演技出色的白燕飾演花影恨。[20]除花影恨的花叢和愛國籌款軼事外,影片以花影恨和作家(張瑛飾)的一段友誼作為主軸,並嘗試以二人花開花謝之討論,道出花影恨害怕明日黃花而自尋短見的誘因。[21]為突出花影恨愛國的情操,南海十三郎在影片加插一齣戲中戲《一代名花》,這齣戲中戲改編自陳圓圓和吳三桂的故事,以陳圓圓勸說吳三桂勿輕國重情作劇旨,由徐人心、麥炳榮、劉伯樂主演和覺先聲班部份藝員客串。[22]影片十分賣座,創下中央戲院連影三十多天的賣座紀錄,但南海十三郎認為戲中戲喧賓奪主,欲刪減戲中戲,片商卻因外埠觀眾愛看粵劇,要求保留,令花影恨感人之事未能充份展現,故他自評影片為最不滿意的作品。[23]

圖三:左圖為花影恨的遺照(香港工商日報》1939年11月22日),右圖是在《一代名花花影恨》(1940)飾演花影恨的白燕(右)和飾演花影恨知心友作家的張瑛(《藝林》64期,1939年12月15日)。

 

同樣以妓女為題材的南海十三郎電影作品還有他編劇的《花街神女》(1941)。故事講述失業青年教師張華(張瑛飾)認識私娼白雪(林妹妹飾),白雪得張華的教導學會唱曲,卻因張華患病,白雪被迫重操故業,為此而被捕入獄,白雪的失蹤令張華誤會她未能安貧守道。白雪出獄後,加入張華當開戲師爺的戲班,張華因誤會而冷待白雪,終因白雪的嚴謹生活,二人始冰釋前嫌,白雪亦因替場而走紅。可見在南海十三郎眼中,風塵女子總有她坎坷的故事,總被人誤會和欺壓,對她們無限的同情。

俠骨柔情

雖然南海十三郎個子瘦小,但他的愛國熱情和慷慨助人的性格堪比雄赳赳的硬漢,每逢有人向他借錢紓困,他總是傾囊相助。在藝術上,南海十三郎不但對自己的作品有極高的要求,對他人作品的批評亦毫不留情,曾因批評粵劇界的封建落伍,而宣稱要打倒六位開戲師爺。[24]南海十三郎對在位者敢於批評,對新人卻積極扶持,他經常起用新人作電影的要角。如在《兒女債》起用初出茅廬的林雪蝶作女主角,在《萬惡之夫》和《夜盜紅綃》分別重用新人謝天和王鶯,在《百戰餘生》提拔李猛、梅綺和倫敦,前兩者為影片的男女主角,也讓盧海山在《女兒香》初登銀幕,而他選用的新人全皆稱職,讓電影界讚賞。才子與瘋子本是一線之差,他狂放孤傲的性格,敢愛敢恨,讓他的人生和作品道義與柔情並重,銀壇最早的花國奇緣亦從他的電影作品開花結果,而同時也成就他傳奇的一生。


圖四:一生兩袖清風的南海十三郎(俯睡者)與友人黃達才(中間胖者)和林擒租住的酒店房間的室內風景漫畫(《藝林》35期,1938年8月1日)。

1.耳東:〈日寇迫瘋南海十三郎〉,《澳門日報》,1960年7月5日。
2. 南海十三郎:〈介紹南海十三郎〉,《工商晚報》1964年2月11日;江獻珠:〈我的十三叔〉,《戲裡戲外:南海十三郎與蘭齋舊事》。香港:萬里機構.萬里書店,2013,頁27、28;廖雲:《南海十三郎之正傳》。香港:科華圖書出版公司,2001,頁37-47。
3.
〈兒女債拍攝經過〉,《華字日報》193629日;〈兒女債〉,《香港影片大全第一卷(一九一四至一九四一)增訂本》,香港:香港電影資料館,2020,頁28、29
4.采風:〈南國藝壇傳奇人物 南海十三郎傷心史〉,《創造》,1955年9月10日。
5.《香港影片大全第一卷(一九一四至一九四一)增訂本》指影片導演是南海十三郎,但New York State Archives藏的《萬惡之夫》對白本記導演是潘素如和陳寶容,南海十三郎是原著(《萬惡之夫》對白本。紐約:New York State Archives,1937)。
6.《萬惡之夫》對白本。紐約:New York State Archives,1937;〈萬惡之夫〉,《香港影片大全第一卷(一九一四至一九四一)增訂本》,香港:香港電影資料館,2020,頁48。
7.
積臣:〈評萬惡之夫與做人難〉,《藝林》2期,1937年3月15日。
8.《公子哥兒》廣告,《工商晚報》1937年10月27日。
9.〈漫記新星梅綺〉,《藝林》第15期,1937年10月1日。
10.《百戰餘生》廣告,《華僑日報》1937年11月7日。
11.《百戰餘生》廣告,《華僑日報》1937年11月8日。
12.
《最後關頭》本事,紐約新中國電影大戲院;〈華南電影界賑災大會特寫〉、〈極堪重視的最後關頭〉,《藝林》第12期,1937年8月15日;〈最後關頭全港電影界總員拍攝情形全貌〉,《藝林》第15期,1937年10月1日。
13.〈華南電影界賑災大會特寫〉、〈極堪重視的最後關頭〉,《藝林》第12期,1937年8月15日;《最後關頭》廣告,《藝林》第24期,1938年2月15日。
14.《最後關頭》本事,紐約新中國電影大戲院;《最後關頭》對白本。紐約:New York State Archives,1938。
15.
〈十三郎新作夜盜紅綃的意義及其他〉,《藝林》第74期,1940年5月15;《夜盜紅綃》廣告,《華僑日報》1940年6月3日。
16.〈高陞院演女兒香〉,《華字日報》1936年2月18日;《女兒香》廣告,《工商晚報》1939年8月19日。
17.〈女兒香改編電影實現  上月廿三日在南粵正式開鏡〉,《藝林》第57期,1939年7月1日;《女兒香》廣告,《華僑日報》1939年8月4、9日。
18.〈女兒香改編電影實現 上月廿三日在南粵正式開鏡〉,《藝林》第57期,1939年7月1日。
19.〈献金運動第六日 各界献金仍極踴躍  小童也知救國將儲欵獻出甚多 塘西歌姬義唱兩晚得五千餘元〉,《工商日報》1938年8月15日;〈石塘歌姬七七義唱 花影恨獲冠軍〉,《華字日報》1939年7月8日;〈別有幽情暗恨生 歌姬花影恨仰藥自殺 遺書謂久歷風塵已心灰意冷 發覺過遲施救乏術玉殞香消〉,《華字日報》1939年11月22日;〈歌姬義唱發起人寶玉女士訪問記 對花影恨之死深致惋惜 此次以萬紅女最有希望力〉,《大公報》1940年3月10日。
20.
〈塘西名花花影恨遺事搬上銀幕 一代名花花影恨 薛覺先.陸飛鴻.都到塲參觀〉,《藝林》64期,1939年12月15日。
21.《一代名花花影恨》對白本。紐約:New York State Archives,1940。
22.〈自評一代名花花影恨〉,《藝林》66期,1940年1月16日;〈一代名花花影恨 娛樂獻映後.中央擇期放映〉《藝林》69期,1940年3月1日。
23.
〈自評一代名花花影恨〉,《藝林》66期,1940年1月16日;〈十三郎新作夜盜紅綃的意義及其他〉,《藝林》第74期,1940年5月15日。
24.〈南海十三郎〉,《藝林》15期,1937年10月1日;〈七十二銅城燕歸人未歸兩劇公演後南海十三郎宣稱打倒六個編劇家 被打倒者 麥嘯霞 梁金堂 黎奉元 盧有容 區漢扶 劉震秋〉,《伶星》(廣州版)74期,1933年12月6日,頁17、18。

 

The Chivalrous and Tender-hearted Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long

Stephanie Ng Yuet-wah


Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long’s comic portrait (Artland, no 18, 15 November 1937) and photograph (Artland, no 43, 1 December 1938)

The Mad Phoenix (1997) brings Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long to the attention of audiences in present times, introducing him as a talented Cantonese opera playwright and as a mentor to Tong Tik-sang, as well as his extraordinary family background and his aloof and straightforward nature. Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long was not only a famous Cantonese opera playwright, he was also a film director and screenwriter, and some of his films were adaptations of his famous Cantonese opera works. Unfortunately, after the war, Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long suffered from mental problems due to head injury[1], bringing his creative career to an abrupt end. All of his post-war films were adaptations of his pre-war plays. Thus, it was  pre-war that marked the golden age of his film writing and directing. However, these film copies had long since disappeared into the flames of war. Therefore, in the following, we can only look at the themes and stories of his works to get a glimpse of his loving and noble spirit.

A Tale of Family Love on the Screen

Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long was born Kong Yu-kau, also known as Kong Yu Kau and Kong Fung, in the family of Jiang Kongyin, the former minister of the Qing Dynasty in the South China Sea. Sup-sam Long was born in Shanghai to a mother who was his father’s sixth wife. He was the 13th among his brothers, hence the name Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long. His mother passed away shortly after his birth and he was brought up by his nanny. He was an extremely intelligent boy, but having lost his mother at an early age and being the son of a concubine growing up in a complicated family environment, he developed a solitary character. Kong Yunjing, his elder sister, was a fan of Cantonese opera and was particularly fond of Sit Kok-sin. The bright and intelligent Sup-sam Long learned how to write plays from watching Cantonese opera. At the request of Sit Kok-sin, Sup-sam Long was invited to write a script for Sit Kok-sin’s Cantonese opera troupe, Kok Sin Sing Opera Troupe and eventually, the extraordinarily talented Sup-sam Long became famous for his play A Serenade starring Sit Kok-sin.[2]

In 1936, after gaining fame in the Cantonese opera world, he began his quest on the silver screen. The first film written and directed by Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long was the ethical drama Children’s Debts (1936), an adaptation of his Cantonese opera Silent Falling Flowers. It tells the story of a father (played by Lam Kwun-shan), a barrister, whose son (played by Ng Cho-fan) takes up his profession. However, the father leaves his daughter (played by Lam Suet Dip) in the care of her grandmother following her mother’s death and eventually, she becomes a dancing girl. The son meets his sister at the dancing club and they identify each other. However, the sister, in defence of her brother’s reputation, accidentally kills her rogue husband. Unaware of what has happened, the brother goes to court to defend his sister and the father is the judge in the murder trial. In the end, the father acts justly and convicts his daughter, who is sentenced to death.[3] It is rumoured that the story is based on the life of Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long, whose father, with numerous concubines and wives, met his mother in Shanghai and fathered a son and a daughter. When his father left Shanghai, he only brought Sup-sam Long with him, leaving his daughter behind in Shanghai. In the end, she came to Hong Kong to work as a dancing girl. Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long, unknowingly, met his sister at a club and fell in love with her, but legend has it that her sister was not involved in any murder. Sup-sam Long was apparently using this story to accuse his father of not fulfilling his fatherly responsibilities, thereby causing a social tragedy. His father is said to have seen the film and thought what his son did was right.[4] Whether the rumour is true or not, his harsh attitude towards the misdeeds of the powerful and his sympathy for women/the disadvantaged can be seen in this work, a feature that would appear in different forms in his later works.


The film Children’s Debts was as well received at the box office as the stage performances, and Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long went on to turn another Cantonese opera of his, The Same Night Last Year, into his second film,  Sin and Law (aka Man of All Evil, 1937). [5]In the story, Chin Fong (played by Yee Chau-shui) is in love with Pak Bik (played by Leong Tim Tim) and he spends a lot of money on her but it is his younger brother Chin Sheung (played by Tse Tin) whom Bik loves. Fong kills Bik’s mother by mistake when he tries to discourage the Sheung and Bik from getting together and he is then sent to prison, while Bik also goes away from that heartbreaking place. A few years later, Fong dies in prison. Sheung still misses Bik and looks for her everywhere. The two of them eventually reunite.[6] The film is said to be tightly plotted, and the dialogues are “witty and brilliantly written”. [7]Another film that deals with class conflicts is his screenplay Born with a Silver Spoon (1937; directed by Wong Fook-hing), in which the protagonist of the film, a rich young man, works as a journalist and dedicates himself to reporting the ups and downs of the grassroots, and at last, he even sacrifices his own family to save a girl from a poor family. [8]These two films both deal with the conflict between the system and justice and human decency, in which justice is ultimately served and the unjust are brought to a bitter end.


Figure 1: An advertisement for the public release of the film Children’s Debts (1936) in Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong Province, written and directed by Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long, a prominent figure in the Cantonese opera industry. (The Industrial & Commercial Daily Press, 29 March 1936).

War Resistance Films

In 1937, Japan invaded China and the war of resistance began. The patriotic Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long responded immediately by writing and directing the war resistance film War and Survival (1937). Under the fire of war, the female protagonist (played by Mui Yee) has no choice but to become a dancing girl to cure her sick mother[9], while the male protagonist (played by Lee Mang) has to give up his literary job and join the army to protect the country.[10]The film was promoted with the theme of loyalty, filial piety and martyrdom[11], which in turn reflects Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long’s mission of war resistance. In 1938, the film industry in South China initiated the production of the national defence film The Last Stand to raise funds for the war, and Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long actively participated in the screenwriting and directing of the film and donated $50 to support the cause. The film consists of seven stories, the first six of which are about how people from six different sectors, namely university students, the industrial and commercial sector, the film industry, women, peasants and soldiers, resist the war. Each of these stories represents the process of social consciousness and enlightenment of a certain class of people, and finally, at the “last stand”, everyone is mobilised to fight bravely against the war and the film ends with the singing of a song called “The Chinese Nation Will Not Fall” in the front line. [12]The cast of the film involved three thousand actors. Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long was in charge of leading the production team of Chi Ming Motion Picture Co., Ltd., directing the women’s story and co-directing the final sequence of the film with five other directors. [13]The women’s story is about a female student, Lam Mei, who intends to set up a rescue team with her old classmates. However, those ladies only take the war as just some kind of news and are reluctant to go to the war front, whereas a group of dancing girls from disadvantaged families are ready to join the frontline rescue team.[14] The storyline shows Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long’s appreciation for the disadvantaged, especially the dancing girls.

Apart from participating in national defence film productions at the time, Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long also wrote and directed historical films with resistance concepts, such as The Valiant General and Theft of the Red Pongee (1940). The former is a story of loyalty about Zhao Zi Long’s rescue of A Dou, but with an emphasis on Liu Bei’s restoration of his kingdom by bringing his people across the river in which the message of resistance is highlighted; the latter is an adaptation of his own Cantonese opera masterpiece under the same title, which tells a story about a loyal man who sacrifices his love and fights for his country. The film also features the heroine Tsui Yan-sum singing “Warm Feelings of the Home Country”, “Bashful Singing of My Love”, Mak Bing-wing singing “Song of the Exile”, “Songs from the Northern-frontier”, as well as two other songs, “Ming Yue Liu” and “Theft of the Red Pongee”, and a short opera titled “The Squire’s Son”, indicating that both historical films contain a strong sense of resistance towards the war.[15] Apart from positively depicting the society and hearts of the people under the war of different times to promote the awareness of war resistance, Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long also portrayed the women at the time in a sympathetic and gentle manner.

Figure 2: Advertisement for the Hong Kong and Guangzhou release of The Last Stand (1938), a war resistance film of Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long mobilising all actors of the South China film industry (The Industrial & Commercial Daily Press, 2 March 1938).

Women of the Times

In 1939, Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long himself brought his famous stage play Scant of a Woman (aka Sweet Girl) to the screen. The Cantonese opera version was originally set in a historical setting, telling the story of a talented and affectionate woman who falls in love with an unfaithful man, while the film version depicts a rich girl who admires the heroism of a revolutionist during the war against the Japanese, and in spite of the conflicting circumstances, they still get married, making it a love story with a strong sense of war resistance. The Cantonese opera version was originally performed by Sit Kok-sin, who played the role of the rich girl on stage for six consecutive years.[16] The famous actor Lo Hoi-tin had also performed in this play on stage and intended to turn it into a film, therefore with the consent of Tam Sau-zhen and Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long, they produced this film with Saam Yau Film Company.

After considering the fact that a female role played by a male actor may not necessarily bring satisfactory results in a film, thus it was changed to Tam Sau-zhen as the female lead, and Lo Hoi-tin also made his debut on the screen, with Siu Ming Sing being invited to perform three songs in the film, including the theme song “Scant of a Woman”. [17]The fact that Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long had refused to let other film companies make adaptations of the play due to the latter’s desire to delete or change the plot[18], together with the various considerations for the adaptation, shows that Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long did not rely on the reproduction of the famous theatre play to attract audiences, but instead, he valued his own works very much and had given careful consideration to the adaptation. After the war, the play was adapted into three film versions, making it the work that comes with the most film adaptations.


In addition to adapting Cantonese opera, Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long also adapted the story of a famous West Quarry song girl, Hua Yinghen, in the film A Beauty of One Generation (aka The Life of a Song Girl, 1940). Hua Yinghen was a patriotic female singer in West Quarry who actively participated in voluntary fundraising performances and was repeatedly the singer who raised the most money from her performances, and she even donated her savings for her home country’s relief work. However, in the end, with no hope of settling down and a sense of regret for her life, she committed suicide by taking poison on her birthday.[19] After the death of Hua Yinghen, film companies competed to produce films about her story. In the end, given that Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long had a close relationship with Hua Yinghen and was familiar with her thoughts and character, the family of Hua Yinghen decided to let him handle this important task. The film was co-directed by Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long and the experienced director Wong Toi, and Pak Yin, who had excellent character and acting skills, was chosen to play the role of Hua Yinghen. [20]In addition to the anecdotes of Hua Yinghen being a prostitute and raising funds for her patriotic cause, the film also takes her friendship with a writer (played by Cheung Ying) as its main focus and seeks to use their discussion on the blossoming and waning of flowers to show Hua Yinghen’s fear for her future, hence the reason why she took her own life. [21]In order to highlight the patriotic sentiments of Hua Yinghen, Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long added a play within a play, A Beauty of One Generation, to the film. This play within a play is based on the story of Chen Yuanyuan and Wu Sangui, with the former persuading the latter not to choose love over the country, starring Tsui Yan-sum, Mak Bing-wing, Lau Pak Lok, with guest participation of some of the members of Kok Sin Sing Opera Troupe.[22] The film was a great success and hit a record for over 30 consecutive days at the Central Theatre. However, Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long felt that the play within the play had overshadowed the main focus of the film and wanted to trim it, but the film company demanded to keep it as foreigners were fond of Cantonese opera. This prevented the film from presenting the touching story of Hua Yinghen in full, and therefore he rated the film as the most unsatisfactory work ever made.[23]


Figure 3: On the left is the portrait of Hua Yinghen (The Industrial & Commercial Daily Press, 22 November 1939); on the right is Pak Yin (right), who played Hua Yinghen in A Beauty of One Generation (1940), and Cheung Ying, who played Hua Yinghen’s intimate friend and writer (Artland, no 64, 15 December 1939).

Another film of Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long based on the theme of prostitutes was Wonderland (aka Goddess of the Streets, 1941), for which he wrote the screenplay. The story is about a young unemployed teacher, Cheung Wah (played by Cheung Ying), who meets a prostitute, Pak Suet (played by Lam Mui-mui). The latter learns to sing opera under the guidance of the former. However, when Cheung Wah falls ill, Pak Suet has to pick up her old profession again, and for this reason, she is arrested and sent to prison. Pak Suet’s disappearance leads Cheung Wah to believe that she has failed to live modestly and respect herself. When Pak Suet is released from prison, she joins Cheung Wah’s troupe, in which he is the playwright of the troupe. Cheung Wah treats Pak Suet harshly due to the misunderstanding, but eventually, as Pak Suet lives a disciplined life, the two of them break the ice, and Pak Suet becomes popular as a substitute of a disappearing singer. Thus, it is evident that in the eyes of Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long, women of the night have always had their own stories of hardships, and they have always been misunderstood and oppressed, and he had infinite sympathy for them.

Chivalrous and Tender-hearted

Although he was a man of slight build, Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long’s patriotism and generosity were no less than that of a tough man. Whenever people needed to borrow money from him to solve their problems, he was always ready to help them out. When it comes to art, Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long not only set extremely high standards for his own works but also showed no mercy in his criticism of others’ works. He once declared that he would defeat six opera troupe masters after criticising the feudalism and outdated nature of the Cantonese opera industry.[24] He was outspoken in his criticism of the people on top, but he actively supported the newcomers. He often employed newcomers as the main characters in his films. For instance, in Children’s Debts, he took on the novice Lam Suet Dip as the heroine; in Sin and Law and War and Survival, he re-employed newcomers Tse Tin and Wong Ang; in War and Survival, he promoted Lee Mang, Mui Yee, and Lun Dui, with the former two being the male and female leads; and he gave Lo Hoi-tin the opportunity to make his debut screen appearance in A Beauty of One Generation. All the newcomers he selected were well qualified, much to the admiration of the film industry. There is a fine line between a genius and a madman, but his wild and aloof character, daring to love and hate, has made his life and works a combination of righteousness and tenderness. The first production based on the legendary “flower kingdom” (the world of prostitution) in the silver screen also bore fruit from his film works, and at the same time, his legendary life was also accomplished.

 

Figure 4: A caricature depicting the righteous Nam Hoi Sup-sam Long (the person sleeping on his back) with his friends Wong Tat-choi (the fat one in the middle) and Lam Kam in a hotel room they rented (Artland, no 35, 1 August 1938).






 1,037 total views

發佈留言

發佈留言必須填寫的電子郵件地址不會公開。