Saturday, August 31, 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - King Yin Lei, Hong Kong

Let's kick off the I Spy posts with the beginning of the episode entitled Affair in T'sien Cha. The location should be very familiar to anyone who has read either of my two HK-based blogs. Yes, it's our trusty Chinese-styled house above Wanchai - 8 years before it became the distant lair of the nefarious Han, and ten years after it was the abode of Clark Gable.

For those familiar with the series itself, you will know that the premise is that Robert Culp plays a tennis player who travels the world participating in competitions and Cosby is his coach - but of course the roles are just a cover for their real work as spies.

What I hadn't realised, and which I have to thank AP for making me aware of is that - as you can see - King Yin Lei used to have a (grass, no less) tennis court right at the front of the property, next to Stubbs Road! I had no idea until AP sent me these caps - anyway, sadly the court was buried under a land slip during a typhoon the following year (1966).

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Hong Kong Locations

I Spy was a popular American series that ran in the mid to late sixties and although I was aware of it and its stars (Bill Cosby and Robert Culp), it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I found out that a large part of the first series was filmed on location in HK.

For this small, but frankly amazing, piece of information I have a person called AP to thank (he is a frequent commenter and loyal follower of this humble blog). He is also the person who has supplied me with ALL of the screen caps for each of the HK-based episodes, so a very big thank you to AP.

AP has been kind enough to supply me with standard screen caps on an episode-by-episode basis, so I will stick with that format, and also done some rather snazzy merges to create some revealing panoramas of 1965 HK. What makes me smile a bit about this series is that, according to wiki, it was actually banned in the south of the US because it used Cosby as one of the main stars. Many of the scenes we will look at have Bill Cosby running around some fairly remote parts of the NT, and in 1965 someone with black skin would have been an absolute head turner in pretty much all of the New Territories given the significant rural character of the place at the time.

Anyway, a big thanks to AP for sorting this all out for me (and you), I am his conduit and all I am doing is trying to pin down some of the places he has sent to me. So, before we get started with the screencap biz, here is the series' opening titles courtesy of Youtube.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Stubbs Road, Wanchai

Another part of the Dunross driving scene sees his big gold car passing in the vicinity of the famous King Yin Lei - although we don't actually see the house itself on screen, only the road just next to the driveway entrance. Shame, it's a great looking building. The building on the right hand side terrace is part of Evergreen Court.

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - 22 Magazine Gap Road, Hong Kong

An early scene in the show has Dunross driving around in his big clunky Merc, passing lots of local places of interest etc. Here is one grab which features a house called "Katoomba" at #22 Magazine Gap Road. It was up in scaffolding when the filming was done but just for a renovation rather than redevelopment.

Incidentally, the road that Dunross drives down (top picture, bottom left) is actually the driveway leading to #26, and not a public road as the sequence seems to indicate.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Yellowthread Street (Opening Titles) - 1990 - Hong Kong

A quick trip back to my A-level days here and a series that, at the time, fascinated me but sadly was only shown once (as far as I know) on terrestrial TV in the UK before being repeated every so often on some satellite channels. The fascination for me should be obvious to anyone who read s my blogs - it was filmed in HK at a time when I was very interested in the place (as I still am).

The producers only made one series before it was canned - an understandable decision when you see some of the episodes and the plodding dialog as well as some really poor acting. Just as the whole thing was starting to improve, it ended.

I did hear from one of the series' writers (some involved in one of the more standout episodes, I hasten to add) who told me that Season 2 was going to be much more in the mold of HK action films. I think it would've been fun, but such is life.

Anyway, now I have manage to get my hands on the whole series I thought it would be fun to include some of the locations here. Starting with the opening credits, courtesy of the series musician Roger Bellon.

Now the introduction has been done, we can get on with the locations, I'll do them episode by episode (13 in all) if I can but will start with some of the places we can see in the opening sequence above.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Tao Fung Shan, Sha Tin

Instead of going through all the hassle of arranging filming permits and the like and forking out all that money to take actors and film crew up to Beijing, the producers of Noble House decided instead to make use of some closer locales to stand in for Beijing. So, when Dunross heads over to the Motherland to do some brokering with the Chinese, all he is really doing is heading into the hills next to Sha Tin train station. The elegant venue is Tao Fung Shan and it's a Christian Seminary built in the style of traditional Chinese temples.

Brosnan's oposite number in China was played by acting stalwart Ric Young who has been popping up in films all over the place since the 1960's. If you've seen Lord Jim you may not have realised that the young native spy who mans the boat up the river with Peter O'Toole was non other than Rick. He also played a machine gun toting gangster in the opening sequence of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as well as Bruce Lee's dad in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (and many more, but these three I have covered on this blog).

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Clearwater Bay Golf Course, Clearwater Bay

Just as in real life, business is conducted largely on the golf course in the world of Noble House. In this case the rather large course attached to the nearby country club at Clearwater bay - one of HK's more exclusive private clubs. I'll admit I have been there, but sadly only as a lacky helping out with a discover scuba course in the 3 metre pool (a great time was had by all I should say, and despite some rather pushy parents, the kids were rather more down to earth and fun to be with).

The main giveaway for this location is the proximity of the sea and High Junk Peak - a very distinctively-shaped mountain.

High Junk Peak at the back

I'll be honest, I find golf about as interesting as other peoples' flatulence, however, with these kind of views to behold I can see one of the main attractions of playing around this particular course: stunning east coast scenery.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - 15 Barker Road, Hong Kong

Dunross's impressive house in the series was provided courtesy of the then Colonial Secretary's (this would have been Sir David Robert Ford when filming was taking place) residence at #15 Barker Road. The house is still very much there and supposedly still used by the current Chief Secretary (2014 - currently Carrie Lam).

I guess being Chief Secretary has many perks, the house just being one of them. On the other hand you have to support whichever tosshole is secretly voted into the position of Chief Executive.

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - No. 2 Shek O Road, Hong Kong

In the series this house is depicted as Lando's and somewhere in Macau. In reality it's on the southside of Hong Kong island in a highly desirable seaside residential area called Shek O - very popular with wealthy business owners and leaders, but these days perhaps more famous for its surfer beach.

The house is, well what can I say, gorgeous and we get treated to a view of the long shielded driveway as well as the exterior and a small bit of Shek O Road. As you can see from Neil's comment below (Neil MacDonald worked on the series as part of the production crew) the interior was indeed filmed in the actual house. On the map this house goes by the name of "Seaway".

Shek O Road

 And finally a nice shot of the interior, or at least the lounge area.

The most recent owner (a record from 2008) show it as being owned by a senior executive of Jardine Matheson (quite apt I guess considering that Struan's is based on the very same company).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

The Emperor sign along the lower end of Nathan Road was a landmark for quite some time and we've seen it on a few occasions on this blog elsewhere such as in Bloodsport and Roaring Fire. I honestly can't remember if the sign is still there because I haven't been down here for some time, but according to the last Streetview (okay, I know it.s a bout 5 years out of date by now) it was still there until then at least.

If you look closely on the left hand side you may be able to make out a couple of flags - including a Union Jack - that once hung outside the Hyatt Regency before it moved and the building demolished to make way for the iSquare mall. Streetview below.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan

A brief shot from the very opening scenes of the series when we are treated to a view of the rainy (probably summertime in that case) streets of HK. One of the shots is taken looking east along Des Voeux Road in the vicinity of Western Market (almost in front of it in fact).

I have Thomas Ngan to thank for the original identification of this over on my other blog when I first did these Noble House locations.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Aberdeen Harbour, Hong Kong

I always felt the onscreen version of Four Finger Wu (played by Khigh Dheigh) was a bit of a wimp compared to the nasty conniving book version, but then again I guess massive parts of the book's various plots are left out for the sake of simplicity. Anyhoo, Aberdeen is where the smuggler/pirate/down right nasty piece of work lives in his boat and Dunross goes to meet him there.

We have a nice shot of the harbour taken from, what seems to be, the Ap Lei Chau bridge (finished circa '83) looking towards the western entrance to the harbour. You can see that, even in 1988/89, the harbour was still used as a living area for many of the boat dwellers, most of which have now been moved ashore to Govt housing.

Look carefully at the hillside in the third picture and you can see old Police Station which now serves as a youth centre. The bottom picture shows the Ap Lei Chau Govt housing estate.