Monday, 21 October 2019

Powaqqatsi - Godfrey Reggio (1988) - Wonderland Villas, Kwai Chung

Wonderland Villas actually appears twice in this movie, except the first time it is in extreme closeup that makes identification a bit more challenging unless you are familiar with the building's configuration. The initial appearance is below - it's a fairly drawn out sequence as the camera pans from left to right , taking in the rather long expanse of the building. I believe this is the western facing part of the facade. To be fair there aren't that many developments in Hong Kong that form such a long contiguous structure so it's not surprising that it caught the attention of Godfrey Reggio, the director. The more recognisable appearance towards the tail end of this musical-documentary can be seen at the bottom. In that image we see it from the opposite side, looking across towards Tsing Yi in the background.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Powaqqatsi - Godfrey Reggio (1988) - Cross Harbour Tunnel, Hong Kong

I'm interrupting the black and white transmission for a little spot of colour before getting back into the 1960 Hong Kong series.

The film I am interrupting it with is a bit of a weird one in that it's a documentary with no commentary other than a rather cool Philip Glass soundtrack. I think I first heard about Powaqqatsi via a comment when this locations blog was first set up. It really slipped my mind until recently when I went on another seek and find and managed to locate an old copy in one of the used DVD stores in Mongkok. Anyway, for those that don't know it is a sort of music and film compilation that takes us through various places in the world . The cinematography is absolutely stunning and luckily there are several sequences that were shot in Hong Kong. I think I captured them all but I may have missed some because of the way the filming was done. So if anyone is familiar with the film and recognises a snippet that has been bypassed, please feel free to let me know.

Anyway, the first scene I recognised - helped by the addition of the Hong Kong urban taxi in the frame) is the Cross Harbour Tunnel. This is the original tunnel, from Hung Hom to Causeway Bay, that was first opened in 1972.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - View to Kowloon

Seeing as there is a bit of a dearth of decent location shots in Pearl Flower, here is a not so great quality shot from the Peak area looking over to Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. Sadly the detail isn't good enough to see much other than some of the ships docked at the old Kowloon Wharf and the sort of blurry mess centre screen is the still undeveloped rocky hills that form the Ho Man Tin area.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Aberdeen Waterfront, Hong Kong

Moving on to Episode 3 - Pearl Flower - and it's about a visitor to HK who, on the spur of the moment decides to check out a little girl that her company has been sponsoring with gift packages and the like. It turns out it was just a front for running some dodgy mail shipment system to a criminal in Ko Shing Street.

There are really no proper on-locale scenes in this film and it looks like all outdoor footage was shot back in the US with just a few proper establishing shots to maintain the illusion of us being in Hong Kong. First up is this interesting footage from Aberdeen Harbour looking back towards the town's waterfront.

For the real movie buffs who read this, you may be interested to note that this episode featured a very young looking Aki Aleong as one of the two main bad guys.

The latter two images are showing the old building that used to sit on the curve as the Praya road reached town. This building survived all the way to 1979/80 before being replaced by the current Shanghai Commercial Bank Building. In fact, those who actually pay attention to these scribblings may recall that the old building was supposedly one of Vanessa's newly acquired brothels in the 1977 film, Vanessa (see second from last image). Here is a stitch of the two images above.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - View over Wanchai, Hong Kong

The next shot appears to be a continuation of the same shot that is used for the series' opening credits, but for some reason (perhaps because of timing) was cut from the credits and then used several times as an establishing shot throughout many of the episodes. It;s the view across Wanchai from the same vantage point above the former Bowen Road Military Hospital, which can be seen in the lower portion of the image. In fact, given the extensive use of 17 Magazine Gap Road in the show, I am fairly certain this image was filmed from the podium of that building.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - 17 Magazine Gap Road, Mid-levels

I know that I already posted a picture of this place from the previous episode, but this image is slightly clearer and taken in daylight as opposed to the earlier darker one (either taken later or most likely with a filter on the camera lens). Anyway, there aren't too many pictures of this place around since it was demolished later the same decade. Look closely and you can see the balustrade that surrounded the podium level. We get to see it close up in a later episode.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Lockhart Road, Wanchai

A couple more establishing shots from this episode, Murder Royal, were taken at the junction of Lockhart and Luard Roads in Wanchai. They pop up in a sort of montage as Evans tramps around the city trying to find out what is going on from his various dubious sources. It seems most of them frequent the bars in the Wanchai red light district.

Conveniently, both of these bars were on opposite sides of the same junction. The Skyroom Bar was located at 88 Lockhart Road, on the south east corner of the junction and the United Bar was located on the opposite corner.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - View over Stonecutter Island, Kowloon

We move on to episode 2 in the series and this one is called Murder Royal. This episode looks as though it was mainly shot in the US with a few HK-based establishing shots to try and keep the authenticity up. I can't think of a single scene involving the actors that made me think it was shot on-location. The plot involves a foreign King arriving in Hong Kong with his son and entourage for the purpose of undergoing a serious medical procedure. At the same time a plot is afoot to have him and his son assassinated so that the throne can be usurped by certain nefarious characters.

It's never mentioned as far as I can remember, but the attire of the Royals and their entourage reminds me a little bit of the formal dress in Brunei.

Anyway, to start with there is a rather nice panorama of Stonecutters Island in its original form i.e. as an actual island. These days it has been subsumed by the West Kowloon reclamation and the whilst most of it still contains the off-limits naval base (now with the PLA), a small section is partly accessible to the public as part of the container processing zones and surrounding road infrastructure.

Can anyone see what is wrong with the panorama? The capture below is a stitch of a camera pan from left to right.

Okay, so if you thought something looked odd, it does. This footage used in this episode has been flipped horizontally. A more-frequent-than-you-realise phenomenon that I have observed over several years of this blog. here's how it should really look. The more familiar orientation of the Hong Kong hills in the background. The large building in the bottom left is still around, its actually the two long terrace blocks that make up the old tenements (built in 1959) between Fuk Wing Street and Fuk Wah Street in Cheung Sha Wan. There is an alleyway between the two called Kim Shin Lane. The slant on the buildings on the right hand side are where the two blocks meet Castle Peak Road at an angle.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

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

One of the main locations for the on-screen dialogue between Evans and the Police Chief, throughout this whole series, occurs on the police station studio set. However, the establishing shots for these scenes were filmed at the real life Central Police Station on Hollywood Road, with Taylor driving his signature white sports car up the main entrance and then around the central courtyard/carpark area.

This place is now open to the public and you can rad more about it here.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Garden Road, Central

Some nice old footage of Rod Taylor driving up Garden Road and then turning onto Magazine Gap Road just past the junction with Robinson Road. Obviously this is way before the flyover was built and the view was much more open.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - The Sea Palace, Aberdeen Harbour

Another of the establishing shots at the beginning of the episode. This one shows the now defunct Sea Palace floating restaurant that used to be next to the Tai Pak in Aberdeen Harbour. In fact I believe that is the Tai Pak on the left of the screen. This series was filmed in 1960, so what you can see is the original Tai Pak restaurant that was later (around 1962) moved to Castle Peak Bay.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Barker Road Peak Tram Stop, The Peak

Another of the series' establishing shots was filmed inside the Barker Road Peak Tram Stop. It's a more substantial stop than most on the line and therefore has been the one that has been filmed the most - so far it has been seen in about 6 movies included on this blog.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - 17 Magazine Gap Road, Mid-levels

In the show, Taylor's character, Glenn Evans, lives in a rather swish modern low rise apartment block. In several of the episodes a well used shot of the place is used for establishment purposes and , after a bit of digging around, it turns out that the apartment block in question was the precursor to the current Magazine Heights (which incidentally, I covered not that long ago for Black Cobra Woman).

According to, this building was constructed at 17 Magazine Gap Road in 1950 and was demolished in circa 1967 when it made way for the current Magazine Heights development. You can see a distant view of it (marked as 9a) here.

There is some other footage of this place, or at least its podium, but you'll have to wait until episode 6 for that.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

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

Part of the plot of Clear for Action involves Evans sending his faithful butler over the border on a spying trip. He dispatches him from the Kowloon terminus on the KCR train being pulled by engine #54.

Taylor at the old KCR Terminus

For the train fans who read this site, then please check out Marcus Wong's always interesting blog. I've linked to it before but this link seems to be extra poignant as I believe Marcus has an image of the very same engine seen below in its later purple livery. It's nice to know these things are still going strong nearly 60 years later. Well, at least some of them.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - View over Central, Hong Kong

Well, the series was commissioned by 20th Century Fox television and got underway proper with real on location filming and a minor switch up in the regular cast - the Chief Inspector of Police role was handed to Lloyd Bochner whereas in the pilot it was played by Alex Davion. This is worth noting because as I mentioned in a previous post, the pilot was rehashed into a full length episode and Davion's scenes from the pilot were crowbarred back into plot. This first episode was called Clear for Action and had Frances Nuyen as a co-star - fresh from her breakdown that led to her removal from The World of Suzie Wong made earlier in the year.

Anyway, I also mentioned the mixed up words for the opening credits were also fixed and so here they are with a slightly different view across the harbour. It starts with the various banks, and moves eastwards taking in HMS Tamar before finishing with the west wing of the old Bowen Road Military Hospital (now the Carmel School).

Jack Kruschen played the character of Tully, a bar owner based on the character from Soldier of Fortune called Tweedie who, in turn, is thought originally to have been based on the real life character Edward Gingle. Coincidentally (or not), Kruschen also had a role in Soldier of Fortune. - he played the creep Austin Stoker who meets Hayward's character on board the ship as they arrive in Hong Kong.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

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

The final shot from the series pilot is when Evans' female colleague is shown off at the airport. This image below shows the not-so-clear RAF Officer's Mess on the hill in the background which puts the plane in the RAF section of the airport.

Actually, by 1960 when this series was filmed, the new runway had already opened so this looks to me as though it was most likely stock footage. This isn't surprising given that this was the pilot episode intended only as a showcase for the show in the hope that it would be commissioned. This also explains why much of the on-character shots are either on a studio set or use back projection (in one scene, Taylor is filmed against a back projection that has been reversed - showing the Chinese characters written backwards).

Luckily for us, the series proper does use proper location filming and we'll get to some of those over the next few episodes.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Port Shelter, Sai Kung

This pilot episode involves Evans and a fellow journalist being kidnapped and a attempt made to take them over into "Red China" for propaganda purposes (the story was worked into a longer version for one of the proper aired episodes called Blind Bargain) and the vessel on which they are stowed is a wooden Chinese junk.

The footage shows the junk "near the border" but in actual fact I can tell you exactly where it was...Port Shelter in Sai Kung, between Hebe Haven and Sharp Island.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong

One of the establishing shots that pops up in the pilot episode (and several subsequent ones from the series) is one looking down Des Voeux Road Central from next to the Bank of China Building. The ornate lion on the left fronts the bank's Des Voeux Road entrance. Of course, that is the old Prince's Building in the background. It was knocked down not long after Queen's Building and the newer (current) version opened in 1965.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - Aberdeen, Hong Kong

Another snippet from the pilot show's opening credits shows us a few shots taken around Aberdeen. In the top image you can just about make out the Chinese Permanent cemetery on the hillside in the background. The bottom image shows the small promontory with the Holy Spirit Seminary rooftop sticking up above the tree line.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Hong Kong (series) - Rod Taylor (1960) - View Over Central, Hong Kong

Another brief shot from the opening credits of Hong Kong has us looking down at the bank buildings in Central. The quality isn't very good but I think most of those familiar with Hong Kong at the time would be able to recognise a few buildings, some of which are still around including the Bank of China Building and the US Consulate and old Govt offices on Garden Road. Notably missing is City Hall which had only just begun construction  in 1960.