Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Target Hong Kong - Richard Denning (1953) - Harbour view from the Peak

About the only other recognisable piece of footage from this film is a panning shot of the harbour from the peak. Only, there is something wrong with it. Can you tell what it is? I've merged the sequence into a fairly decent panorama below.

Well, if you haven't figured it out by now then I can tell you the whole sequence is flipped. I don't think it really mattered at the time because the level of HK knowledge of most of the US cinema going public in the early 50's was probably minimal and the sequence is quite quick, but it's always interesting to see how easy it was to flip a film without realising.

Anyway, I've flipped it to how it should look below but I was having problems reconciling the skyline with what I would have expected to see in 1953 when the film was made/released, so I went and asked the guys over at Gwulo for some help

If you click through to the link then you'll see they managed to narrow it down to around between 1935 and 1937. I'd already figured it must be post 1935 because the previous version of the HSBC headquarters is visible, but my upper limit was 1951, the year the Bank of China (now the old Bank of China) was built. It's missing in this panorama. Thanks to 'gw' who saw that the older version of Central Market is still visible. This was demolished in 1937 so the film was shot some time before then. So there you go, a film shot in 1953 was using stock footage from the 30's and no one even noticed.

Target Hong Kong - Richard Denning (1953) - Central Waterfront, Hong Kong

Target Hong Kong is a bit of an anomaly for this site because so far it's the only film that wasn't actually shot here - not even partially. The low-budget film relied entirely on stock footage of HK and other places (including Shanghai) in order to convince us we are viewing HK-based action. It seems that the viewing film public in the early 50's was none the wiser and I suspect many people even now would be too.

Never mind, the stock footage still has value and historical significance including this quick scene taken at the Central waterfront. The partial roof on the right in the top photo is actually the 2nd generation of the Star Ferry Pier that was in place between 1912 and 1957. Looking at the fashion in the pictures though I would say this is possibly 1920's or 1930's vintage.

Some of you may recognise the pier at the back. It's the original Blake Pier that was removed in 1965 and was recently reconstructed over in Stanley. I say 'reconstructed' but I have no idea if the original ironwork has been used. There is a tendency for the Govt to oversell its heritage concern in this respect and it still genuinely tells people the Murray Barracks building (also in Stanley) was reconstriucted "brick by brick" when it wasn't, so I shall reserve judgement.

Just for reference, the old Blake Pier used to sit at the waterfront in front of the old General Post Office which puts it at the end of Pedder St. This equates today to roughly where Pedder St turns into Connaught Place at the junction with Connaught Road.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Wharf Road, North Point

It's been a while since I largely finished with Yellowthread Street locations, but this one particular place left me and others quite stumped. It's the site of the AMF Superbowl that I couldn't seem to track down. Here's the reminder.

It's where Eden goes in and starts shooting up the bowling alley with a big shotgun - as you do - from the very first episode, Power Play. Anyway, many thanks to AP for tracking this one down via an old map, from 1994, over at the HKU website which gave details of a superbowl centre at the Provident Centre on Wharf Road. A quick look on Streetview reveals the same locations seen in the top picture has since been remodeled and the superbowl has now become a subterranean branch of the local supermarket, Park N Shop.

So many thanks to AP for finally solving this 1+ year mystery.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Five Golden Dragons - Bob Cummings (1967) - Port Shelter, Sai Kung

There is a brief water skiing scene in the film where the heroine is finally captured by the bad guys as she water-skis around the islands of Port Shelter. There are a few recognisable spots for those who know the area. The first one is the area of water close to Sai Kung waterfront.

From left to right we have Sharp Island (at the back) followed by Cham Tau Chau (closest to the water-skier) and to the right of that further back is Pak Sha Chau. The view is looking south. I tried to get a decent comparison using Streetview (from the waterside Tai Mong Tsai Road) but sadly most of the decent views are blocked by trees. This is a shame because I think the camera was most likely positioned on the pier (or its predecessor) in front of San Tin Hang.

The action then moves a little further to the east. It's still Sharp Island at the back but the angle has changed so the ridge line is less humped.

Then we get a switch-around and looking to the north. Just left of the round headland in the middle is the small bay that now hosts the Outward Bound School. The hill behind the guy's head in the second photo is Shek Uk Shan.  

Finally, we get a more familiar view (familiar to Sai Kungers anyway) and that is the large ridge line above town that starts on the left with Pyramid Hill. So in these snaps we are looking west. I believe the bit of land sticking out in the second picture is the same headland where the Outward Bound School is on the other side (but I could be wrong). Anyway, it's nice to know yet another film was made here (to go with The Sand Pebbles, Kill a Dragon etc).

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Five Golden Dragons - Bob Cummings (1967) - RAF Kai Tak, Kowloon

Which other blogs out there can give you RAF Kai Tak and Hollywood heavyweight, George Raft, in a single post? Not very many, I suspect.

But anyway, Raft is one of the so-called Five Golden Dragons of the film's title and lands in HK in a helicopter at RAF Kai Tak.

RAF Kai Tak was the RAF base situated just north of the runway in Kowloon. It's been completely redeveloped now and there are a couple of housing estates on the old site including the Kai Yip Estate and Richland Gardens. There are still a couple of remnants left including the former HQ building at #50 Kwun Tong Road and on the opposite side of Kwun Tong Road, the former Officer's Mess - now the HKBU Academy for Visual Arts. I believe that's might be the distant building you can see behind George's head in the lower picture. There is also one of the Nissen huts left on the site which is now used by the Christian Action organisation.

In the top pictures you can see part of the original Choi Hung Estate at the back. That's Pik Hoi House and is still standing, along with the rest of the estate.

Five Golden Dragons - Bob Cummings (1967) - Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon

A nice angle here on a plane coming into land at the old airport. It makes a nice change from the usual views taken from the north side. Was this shot taken from a boat?

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Five Golden Dragons - Bob Cummings (1967) - Tiger Balm Gardens, Tai Hang

The baddies (the 'Five Golden Dragons' of the title) have their base in the Haw Par Mansion inside Tiger Balm Gardens. As a result we get some nice shots of the place when it was in its heyday. Sadly, a large section of action occurs at night but people familiar with the place will recognise it nonetheless.

Some later action was set during the day though with some much better views of the gardens including the front gate (top picture below) which, other than the mansion itself, is the only remaining thing following the redevelopment.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Five Golden Dragons - Bob Cummings (1967) - Former Marine Police Headquarters, Tsim Sha Tsui

The base of the police n this film is the former Marine Police HQ in Tsim Sha Tsui that has since been turned into the Hullet Hotel. Building aside, the developers (Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong) ruined the area by excavating the hillside and filling it with tacky jewellery shops. The top two pictures show the front whilst the latter one shows the west side of the building that faces onto Canton Road.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Five Golden Dragons - Bob Cummings (1967) - Hong Kong Hilton Hotel, Central

Sadly, I missed ever seeing this iconic building by just a few months as my first trip to HK was in November 1995 when the building had already been demolished and the construction work had already started on the piles for what would become the Cheung Kong Centre.

What you can see is Bob Cummings running onto Queen's Road Central to grab a cab. However, one of the most interesting pictures for me is the view from the hotel room window. It sparked a recent memory and I suddenly realised I had seen a version of that view before.

Five Golden Dragons: 1967
Bruce Lee and I: 1976

Even if it's not quite the same room (though it could be) the view is comparable in terms of aspect if not content. Look how much it has changed!! In case you are wondering where the latter screen grab is from, it's from 1976's Bruce Lee and I starring Betty Ting Pei. The difference of around 10 years is quite staggering but not surprising. Also look carefully and you can see that the Hilton looks as though it didn't change its furniture very often. The rattan settee in the foreground is exactly the same!