Saturday, 31 December 2016

L'Inconnue de Hong Kong - Dalida (1963) - Tai Pak Floating Restaurant, Castle Peak

Some time around 1962 (not sure on the exact year) the owners of the Tai Pak Floating restaurant in Aberdeen Harbour decided to retire their old restaurant and replace it with a brand spanking new one. The original (that can be seen in films such as The World of Suzie Wong and Love is a Many-Splendoured Thing) was moved out of Aberdeen and towed all the way over to the Sam Shing Hui area of Castle Peak Bay (Doug has lots of great pictures of it, including this one) where it sat for many years.

Anyway, it's the original version in Castle Peak Bay that can be seen in L'Inconnue de Hong Kong. Note that when it was relocated to Castle Peak (today's Tuen Mun) it had a wooden board walk linking it to land (very similar to the old floating restaurant in Shatin that some people confuse it with).

L'Inconnue de Hong Kong - Dalida (1963) - Aerial View of Kowloon Part 3

The final few shots of the Kowloon panorama take in the rest of the space between Mongkok and the Kowloon hills. You can't see the famous ridge line of Lion Rock because it has been chopped off by the camera however, it's the hill on the centre right in the third picture. The ridge line rises on the left hand side up to Beacon Hill. 

On the lower slopes of the hills you can see a faint line running across, made more obvious by the shaving of the hills at various points. This is Lung Cheung Road and is still the main highway linking north and east Kowloon.

Above the previously mentioned Tai Hang Tung recreation ground is a small hill called Woh Chai Shan - you can see it on the left in the upper picture and centre left in the lower pictures. These days it is a fairly anonymous hill in Shek Kip Mei (though it seems to be popular with walkers and bird watchers) with a service reservoir on the summit, but for a long time it also housed a large number of squatter huts up and down its various slopes. As part of the response to the fires (in Tai Hang Tung in 1952 and Shek Kip Mei the following year) the Govt constructed the two housing estates that can be seen above - Tai Hang Tung estate t o the right of Woh Chai Shan and Shek Kip Mei to the left. Both estates have since undergone subsequent regeneration/rebuilding.

On the right of the lowest picture is the low-rise areas of Yau Yat Chuen and Kowloon Tong, but at the mountain end of that area you can see the relatively high rise white buildings of what were the Kowloon Tsai military quarters. These have since been replaced (quite recently - 2004) by a large residential development called One Beacon Hill.

Friday, 30 December 2016

L'Inconnue de Hong Kong - Dalida (1963) - Aerial View of Kowloon Part 2

Moving to the north slightly for our next set of three pictures and the top left hand side of the top picture shows Kadoorie Hill. You can see it move to the right as the camera pans left. The main road that runs from the bottom left of the picture past the right hand side of Kadoorie Hill is, of course, Argyle Street and you can actually see more of it in the middle picture. On top of Kadoorie Hill you can make out the vague shape of the Diocesan Boys School, although the playing field is more obvious as a bare patch. Just to the right of that is St George' Court built in 1961.

To the right of Kadoorie Hill is an empty patch of ground next to Waterloo Road. It was once a hill but at the time of filming was being formed for the construction of the developments around what would become Man Fuk Road and Man Wan Road. The first block to be completed here was Sunlight Garden in 1964 - this place is perhaps more famous for being Bruce Lee's home when he first returned to Hong Kong to launch his movie career in 1971.

Look carefully along Argyle Street in the next picture and you can make out the KCR rail bridge about halfway along the road just at the tip of Kadoorie Hill. In the bottom centre veering right is Mongkok Road - perhaps better known now as the road that has the pedestrian walkway running down part of its length. Look carefully on the left hand side and you should be able to make out what looks like a river channel/nullah. This is the famous nullah that gives Nullah Road its name and as far as I know the waterway still runs underneath the road. I may pop down one day and see how much of the nullah is still visible.

The last picture below shows a little more of the Tai Hang Tung area. The large open space is still open today and consists of Tai Hang Tung recreation ground and Fa Hui Park on the other side of Boundary Street. In fact if you look closely you can see Boundary Street running through the middle of it all. On this side is the Boundary St recreation ground and the running track of what is now Mongkok Stadium. Splitting the open ground in two on the left side is the southern end of Yau Yat Chuen and at the very tip you can make out the still standing Yau Yat Chuen School.

Anyway, lots to see but too much to mention here. A little more to come in the next post.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

L'Inconnue de Hong Kong - Dalida (1963) - Aerial View of Kowloon Part 1

There is a rather nice sequence at the start of this film when the protagonists are supposedly flying into Hong Kong which takes in a large swathe of Kowloon. I have around 9 grabs taken from it but wanted to split them up because there is a lot to look at.

The sequence starts over the old typhoon shelter and finishes looking to the hills to the north and I am sure anyone familiar with Kowloon in the 1960's (and later) will recognise some familiar landmarks. here are the first three pictures. I've arranged the pictures in reverse order below so that the continuity is easier to see between the buildings. I guess we are looking at the area where Yau Ma Tei meets Mongkok.

So what are we looking at? The lower picture shows the old typhoon shelter (now reclaimed) with two main roads visible at the waterfront. On the left is Soy Street and on the right (just off top centre) is the end of Dundas Street. Unsurprisingly, the whole (ex-) waterfront has been redeveloped extensively and in fact only until recently we still had some survivors. The large block between both roads has only just been knocked down. You can still see it on Streetview for the time being but the next time Google do an update it will be gone. The typhoon shelter at this section now houses some large developments including Charming Garden and Park Avenue.

In the middle picture there is some difficulty in making out detail amongst all the grey, but on the left of centre is a large white block that sticks out a bit. This building sits on Reclamation Street (on the other side of the building from where we are) and was brand spanking new in 1963 - hence it being nice and shiny. I was in Reclamation Street just the other week and noticed that this block (it encompasses #331 thru #355) has recently been taken over by the dreaded U.R.A (that's the Urban Renewal Authority that for so long has been very successful at under-compensating old flat owners for the destruction of their homes). So, it looks like the block will be demolished at some point in the near future. You may feel I bang on a bit about getting rid of old buildings, but just take a look at this place to see how old buildings can be made to look absolutely fantastic if people took the time and effort.

Anyway, in the top picture you can just make out the slopes of King's park at the top right and the hospital buildings of Kwong Wah Hospital along Waterloo Road at the bottom of the slope. The hospital has had another wing added to the main building since then but other than that remains fairly unchanged.

L'Inconnue de Hong Kong - Dalida (1963) - Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon City

A fair amount of the early action takes place inside the old terminal building at Kai Tak airport as a smuggled diamond is passed around from one person to another inside a bar of soap. As a result we get some shots of what I can only assume is the inside of the old terminal building as well as a few shots of the exterior including the first one, below, of the ramp up to the departures area.

A few shots of the interior which look legit to me, although feel free to correct me otherwise.

And finally a couple more shots on the outside showing the famous (and still there) runway. Note in the top picture you can see the buildings that line Mok Cheong Street (aka Saw Mill Street) in Ma Tau Wai. Those buildings were all completed in and around 1960 and are still standing.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

L'Inconnue de Hong Kong - Dalida (1963) - Tsing Shan Monastery, Tuen Mun

After the rather blurry colour screen grabs from The Yin and Yang of Mr Go, here is the next film with some rather sharper black and white images. It's L'Inconnue de Hong Kong starring Dalida and Serge Gainsbourg shot in 1963. There are some great images in this film and it's a pity I can't understand French because the story looked quite good too. All I can gleam is that it's a story about diamond smuggling and how some unwitting touring cabaret girls get mixed up in it all.

The film starts off with an illicit exchange taking place seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but anyone who has visited the area in question will no doubt immediately recognise it as the road that leads up to Tsing Shan Monastery in Tuen Mun. Back in 1963 it was the area still referred to as Castle Peak and had yet to be develop into Tuen Mun new town and this was a full ten years before Bruce Lee would make the place famous in Enter the Dragon

Note the background in this lower picture. It shows Castle Peak Bay as it was before the massive reclamation project filled it all in. This whole view is now of high rises. However, you'll be pleased to know that the ornamental gate is still the same. Here is a picture I took of it a few years ago, although I was up the road looking down - the same side the two lower screen grabs were done on.

Later on in the film, one of the main actors returns to the monastery looking for someone. I suspect the scenes were filmed on the same day but the lower screen grabs were from much later in the film.

It's not easy to tell from the black and white pictures but it looks as though the main entrance gate we see above might be the same yellow colour that still adorns its wall. The picture below is also from a few years back.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Yin and Yang of Mr Go - James Mason (1970) - Hollywood Road, Central

The US agent gets into a spot of bother (it's never clear why and I suppose the reason may have been one of the never filmed scenes) and is chased up Pottinger Street. Burgess Meredith, in a role that is also never made clear, agrees to act as a decoy and leads the pursuers up to the Central Police Station on Hollywood Road where he is able to escape (into the police compound it seems) by walking next to some police.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

The Yin and Yang of Mr Go - James Mason (1970) - Dragon Garden, Castle Peak Road

Although most famous for it's prominent role in The Man with the Garden Gun, we've seen Dragon Garden and the villa inside quite a few times on this blog (Noble House, The Last Grenade, Men of the Dragon to name a few) and although it looks as though no real filming was done here, we do catch a brief glimpse of the villa in one scene.

I suspect this was probably a borrowed clip from somewhere else (perhaps inserted years later?) otherwise I am sure we would have seen much more of the garden etc.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Yin and Yang of Mr Go - James Mason (1970) - Wo Hop Shek Cemetery, Fanling

Fortunately for this particular location I had prior knowledge after speaking with Chaplin otherwise I would really have not had much chance of finding it. The scene was shot over the night of Chinese New Year Eve of 1970 (so, I think 5th Feb?) and apparently caused much consternation amongst the Chinese crew because not only did they have to work on Chinese New Year's eve but also had to do it in a cemetery! Anyway, sadly the night shoot means the picture quality is even poorer than usual.

You can see some of the grave numbers here so it might be possible to find the actual spot (for Jeff Bridges and James Mason hardcore fans only, me thinks). I may take a trip there one day (hopefully whilst I'm still alive I mean...).

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Hongkong Hilton, Central

Well, following on from the last post for The Yin and Yang of Mr Go, I think I can now safely remove this location from the unknown list and post it here. As suspected, it appears to be an inner courtyard within the Hongkong Hilton hotel. I had hoped the distinctive wall decoration would be able to jog someone's memory but in the end it has taken the other film to confirm where it was.

So it looks like this was a Japanese garden within the hotel grounds. I had initially assumed the Japanese style arches were temporary for the purpose of filming but the appearance in two films over a space of 2 or 3 years tells me they were slightly more permanent. Anyway, another mystery solved.

The Yin and Yang of Mr Go - James Mason (1970) - Hongkong Hilton Hotel, Central

The Hilton was a popular spot for filming in the 60's and according to Chaplin it was also where the production company were based for the filming of The Yin and Yang of Mr Go. We see it a couple of times, first is the entrance as Irene Tsu walk s out and second involves the confirmation of a location seen in another film that I thought was the Hilton but had nothing to compare it to until now.

Here is the entrance (Jack Palance and Aldo Ray were here a couple of years previously).

The next location appears to be a rear inner courtyard of the hotel, notable for its Japanese arches and the internal wall having what looks like a large ceramic mosaic attached to it. The only reason I now know it's the Hilton is because of a brief glimpse of the old HSBC and Bank of China through a gap as the camera pans down at one of Burgess Meredith's quirky (and possibly alcohol induced) camera angles.

HSBC & Bank of China seen through the gap

The courtyard looks like a Japanese garden and in the film it is supposed to be part of the Bank of Tokyo where the manager (King Hu) meets the US agent for some clandestine talks. Note the wall decoration in the background.

Monday, 12 December 2016

The Yin and Yang of Mr Go - James Mason (1970) - Chaplin the translator

Following on from our quest to tag Chaplin as many times as possible through out this blog, here he is in a rare speaking role when he plays the Chinese translator explaining to a bunch of local goons about how much they can expect to earn for the capture of Bridges and his girlfriend (played by Irene Tsu).

Chaplin was also the assistant director for the film (a role he would repeat a few years later for Enter the Dragon) and later on tried (unsuccessfully and at significant cost to himself) to buy the Asian distribution rights for this film. You may or may not know that for a while in the early to mid 70's Chaplin was also part of King Hu's film production company (where he helped obtain funding for The Fate of Lee Khan and The Valiant Ones from a rather reluctant Raymond Chow ) and they remained good friends until Hu (remember he plays the Japanese banker in this film) passed away in 1997.

Chaplin at the back