Sunday, 15 December 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon

There's a landing sequence in The Survivor that appears to have not been used before.  It shows a plane flying in from the west with HK Island in the background. If you look carefully you can see the row of tenement buildings that still sit between Mok Cheung Street and Ma Tau Kok Road. Interestingly, in the second image below you can see a pointed hill behind where the aforementioned tenement buildings start and I believe this may be the rocky pinnacle that was part of the Whampoa dry dock until the are was redeveloped. Can anyone confirm?

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - KCR Terminus, Kowloon

I'm jumping forward to Ep 16: The Survivor, in this next post because unfortunately the next episode in line for examination, Ep 14: Suitable for Framing, has disappeared from the ether meaning I haven't been able to even view it let alone see what locations were featured (please feel free to point me in the direction of any copies should they appear). And Ep 15: Lesson in Fear, actually just rehashed a couple of clips already used in previous episodes. So here we are at the platform in the old KCR terminus in Tsim Sha Tsui for this episode. The story is that Glenn is involved in a helicopter crash that kills his two friends. Left behind is their young son who has a infamous grandfather in Communist China who wants him there. Cue a nefarious plot to kidnap the child by sending in fake aunts from America to secretly take him to China instead of the U.S.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - U.S Consulate, Central

Episode 13, When Strangers Meet, only has a couple of locations, largely because this was really when the series shifted to more studio based scenes and an extended musical interlude at the new hangout, the Golden Dragon.

The episode uses one of the same shots from a scene from Blind Bargain, but then shows us a slightly different angle as Taylor walks up the stairs.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - King's Road, Quarry Bay

This episode, The Dragon Cup, actually has a location in it that took a long time to track down, simply because the area has changed so much over the last 30 years that I was having a hard time reconciling the screen captures with how it looks today. Again, the mapping office aerial pictures were crucial to identifying where this was.

What you are seeing is how the section of King's Road in Quarry Bay used to look when it was largely filled with Swire/Tai Koo-related infrastructure. In the top two images we are looking west back along King's Road. The steep slope with the building at the top was located where Westland Gardens now sits. The building was one of the Tai Koo buildings but I'm not sure what it's role was.

as the car passes the location of the camera, although the background is blurred from the camera motion, it's possible to make out a flat area with a wall and gate. This open area corresponds with today's Fortis Centre/Eastern Centre and Shipyard Lane that runs in a loop around these two office buildings.

These final two images show the view looking east towards the curve in King's Road that existed prior to the road being straightened and becoming Kornhill Road. If you look at modern maps, you'll see that King's Road actually still follows its original route here, turning north where Kornhill Road begins. The tree covered hillside seen at the road bend below was excavated at some point. The road was straightened and the massive Kornhill development (including the north and south developments as well as the plaza) were built in the location. It is completely unrecognisable today. The excavation/removal of the hill and subsequent creation of Kornhill Road et al occurred sometime around the mid 1980s.

This same clip was also used in the later episodes Double Jeopardy, Lady Godiva.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Tiger Balm Gardens, Tai Hang

Another of the locations revisited to recapture her lost images is Tiger Balm Gardens. Sadly we don't really get to see much other than a couple of quick frames as the character recaptures her photographs, and black and white film has never been the best way to capture this place.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - The Peninsula Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui

One of the sites visited in The Dragon Cup by our intrepid photo journalist is the Peninsula Hotel, so in an effort to retrace her steps, Evans takes her back to all the sites she visited earlier to recapture the lost images and to find out if there is any link between the sites and the robbery.

This image of the Peninsula Hotel appears for the first time in this episode, although as you can see, it is made to look like it is being seen through the aperture of a camera. The same image pops up again in several later episodes (Ep.21 With Deadly Sorrow, Ep.22 Murder by Proxy and Ep.24 Love, Honor and Perish). The second image is what the un-doctored shot should look like and how it appears in the later episodes mentioned above.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon

The Dragon Cup episode is about a visiting photojournalist who goes around Hong Kong with her camera before she is suddenly attacked and robbed by an assailant (played by a very young James Hong). Her coming and going from Hong Kong is marked by a couple of establishing shots of the airport. The first is a plane taxiing to its gate after landing and the second is a shot of the old 'temporary' terminal building (colour image here) that was in existence for a short time while the airport operations were being moved from the old airport site to the south next to the new runway. The new terminal building at Kai Tak didn't open until 1962. Both these sequences were used several times again in the remaining episodes of the series including Lesson in Fear (Ep: 15).

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Central Police Compound, Central

Moving on to episode 12, The Dragon Cup, and already there are a few changes being done to the Hong Kong series, perhaps in response to the fact that it wasn't getting quite as many views as was hoped (according to the fan page it was competing with Wagon Train for viewers at the time and losing badly). So it seems that the change in year from 1960 to 1961 also saw some changes in the show.

One thing to note is that this episode is the very last one featuring Jack Kruschen's character 'Tully'. After this episode he just disappears and is never mentioned again. It seems that the dive bar he owns was no longer considered to be a place that Glen Evans and Neil Campbell could hang out in and so from episode 14 onward (an episode called Suitable for Framing which has disappeared online making it impossible for me to watch) their new hangout is a nightclub called the Golden Dragon run by a lady called Ching Mei (played by Mai Tai Sing). This gave the producers a chance to introduce a sort of musical interlude in the show to fill up some airtime. The change also saw a significant amount of reuse of the footage already seen in earlier episodes as well as more studio based scenes and stories. Overall the quality of locations dropped in number and originality for the second half of the season.

With that said, the first proper location is footage from the Central Police Station compound that uses some previously unused footage of Rod Taylor driving his car around the central carpark coupled with some older footage (last image) of him getting out of the car (the first use of this footage can be seen in Colonel Cat).

Friday, 6 December 2019

The Street Fighter - Sonny Chiba (1974) - Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong

The final shot for this brief sojourn into Hong Kong is a moving camera shot along Queen's Road Central as the vehicle the camera is in makes its way towards to western limits of the "central" part of Queen's Road. This is approaching the junction with Bonham Strand (on the right) and the curved building straight ahead in is at the far corner of Possession Street. According to Centamap Queen's Road Central turns into Queen's Road West at this very point.

We've seen this section of the road a few times before on the blog, including during this scene for Revenge of the Pink Panther. Okay, the angle isn't the same but there are some common buildings to both including the old shophouse on the corner of Bonham Strand (beige building on the right in the below images) which also happens to still be around today.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

The Street Fighter - Sonny Chiba (1974) - Aberdeen Harbour, Hong Kong

From one harbour to another, the next shot in the brief HK-related opening scenes is a shot across the waters of Aberdeen towards the Tai Pak and Sea Palace floating restaurants. Judging from the ornate balustrade top in the right foreground, I would say this shot was taken from the old pontoon location at the waterfront that has since been reclaimed and now has the bus terminus sitting on top of it (today's Wu Nam Street).

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

The Street Fighter - Sonny Chiba (1974) - Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

While we are in the land of colour, here are a few shots from the beginning of The Street Fighter with Sonny Chiba. Like Sister Street Fighter, this film's premise engineers some flimsy excuse for starting in Hong Kong (I guess the world was still in the thrall of the previous year's Enter the Dragon and any sort of Hong Kong connection could feed off that) but then uses just a few small establishing shots followed by some studio scenes before high-tailing it back to Japan for the rest of the action.

The opening shot in Hong Kong is this one of the harbour looking over towards the Hong Kong Island waterfront. The tallest building at the time was the China Insurance Group Building. It's still around, on the corner of Connaught Road and Gilman Street, but it's now the short guy in the neighbourhood.

Sister Street Fighter (1974) used some pre-66 stock footage for its establishing shots, but this one can be dated at least after 1967 because that's when the China Insurance Group Building was opened. My knowledge, or lack of, means I can't really date it much better than that, although I believe extreme top right is Realty Gardens, the development that replaced the Mok Villa in 1971. So perhaps this footage was shot specifically for this film. Corrections welcome.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Weiße Fracht für Hongkong - Dietmar Schönherr (1963) - #2 University Drive, Hong Kong University

The second additional post for Weiße Fracht für Hongkong is one that I really should have got earlier because the nearby University Lodge was also featured in the film. Here is the reminder of that location. I don't really know much about this place at all other than where it is, so perhaps there are some HKU alumni who can fill in the details. I understand it was built in the 1950s and was originally accommodation for University staff members, but I have no idea if it remains as such, or even if it is still around. I will head over there to check it out for myself at some point. Until then  here is the car park/ground floor area of the building, with an unimpeded view of the harbour, as it appears on film in 1963.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Weiße Fracht für Hongkong - Dietmar Schönherr (1963) - 53 Stubbs Road, Wanchai

Another break from the monochrome of Hong Kong and back to colour, although filmed only a few years later. It's been a long time since I posted about this early 60s German film, but since I published the initial posts I have been able to track down another couple of locations that were proving elusive, or at least difficult to ascertain.

The first location is this scene shot in a large private garden somewhere above Hong Kong island. We don't get to see much of the house itself, sadly, but the view from the garden is impressive and I was scratching my head for a while. I did wonder if it was taken from 53 Stubbs Road at the time but the lack of available photography meant I couldn't say for sure. Luckily, the mapping office now makes its aerial photographs available for online perusal and after looking at some shots from the same year as the film, I can confirm this was indeed 53 Stubbs Road.

The site is now occupied by the Gehry designed Opus building - one of Hong Kong's most exclusive addresses - and it seems that all modern online references to the address concern this new building rather than the older, private house. However, in the design brochure there is a mention (on page 10) that the site had been in the possession of Swire since the 1940s and that the house was used by one of the company's executives. 

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Alexandra House, Central

Another major building in the central area, this time the original Alexandra House that stood at the junction between Chater Road and Des Voeux Road Central. This art deco style version was built in the 1950s and lasted until the mid-70's before being demolished and rebuilt into the current version. I prefer the older one.

In the background on the left you can see the end of the old Prince's Building which was demolished a few years after this for another modern, less inspiring, replacement. The same can be said for the other side of the background. The Chartered Bank building lasted slightly longer (in to the 1980s) before being redeveloped.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Edinburgh House, Central

One of the establishing shots from episode 11, Nine Lives, is some footage at the junction Queen's Road Central and Ice House Street. A building called York House now stands on the corner in the background but when this series was shot it was the curved corner of Edinburgh House. The "P.G" sign in the background left was the Parisian Grill on Queen's Road Central. The same clip was used again in Episode 15: Lesson in Fear.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - The Peninsula Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui

To Catch a Star is the first episode that uses a recurring shot of The Peninsula Hotel. The starlet who has arrived in Hong Kong is supposed to be staying a some place (I can't recall what they call it) but the establishing shot for the hotel scenes use this image to set the stage for the sequence. The shot is reused in the later episodes Murder by Proxy and Love, Honor and Perish but I don't think the hotel is ever referred to by its real name. There is also a daylight shot from the same angle that I will put in a later post.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Central Police Station Compound, Central

Here's another quick view of the Central Police Compound that hasn't popped up before. The building on the left was the actual police station building that fronted onto Hollywood Road. I think over the course of this whole series, almost every angle of this central courtyard was covered.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Causeway Road, Causeway Bay

This quick sequence showing Evans' car driving in the westbound lane of Causeway Road is used for the first time in this episode, To Catch a Star. The large monolithic building in the left background is the former Causeway Bay magistracy, built in a very similar style to the North Kowloon Magistracy on Tai Po Road that now houses the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), with its long vertical window openings. This isn't surprising given that both buildings were built around the same time, the only difference is that this one was demolished sometime in the late 1980s and "Park Towers" built on the site.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Kai Tak Signboard, Kowloon

Moving onto Episode 10, To Catch a Star, in which a visiting movie star decides to generate some publicity by staging a kidnap before her kidnappers decide to do it for real. The establishing shot for the airport, which was used several times in future episodes, is an old signboard at Kai Tak. I'm not sure where the main entrance to the airport was at this time but this was before the new terminal opened in 1962 and there was a 'temporary' terminal building (which also pops up as an establishing shot in later episodes) that I believe was sited somewhere around the site of today's "The Latitude" development. Corrections welcome. Also seen in The Survivor and Love, Honor and Perish.