Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Chairman - Gregory Peck (1969) - Jordan Road, Yau Ma Tei

Is it Yau Ma Tei or Kwun Chung? I think the former as this location is on the north side of Jordan Road whereas Kwun Chung seems to mainly occupy the southern side (I bet most of you are wondering where on earth Kwun Chung is - it's the proper name for the area generally referred to these days by its MTR station: Jordan.

Never mind, this is actually a great piece of detective work by Thomas, so many thanks to him for once again coming through and pulling this one, seemingly, from nowhere. The shot is just one of several scene setting short shots that establish HK as the location for the following bit of film, and as we already mentioned on previous blog posts for this film, the director had been barred from filming and was told to leave HK a.s.a.p due to the politically charged nature of the film (let's just say it shows Chinese Communism for exactly as it is/was). So, I imagine this small shot was taken sneakily, I'm just a bit confused as to why this particular piece of Kowloon made it into film as opposed to any other.

Amazingly (or not) most of the buildings in this screen grab can still be seen today (or at least they can on the current version of Streetview which, I believe, is about 5 years old now). Here's the modern view. I'm wasn't convinced as much by the building on the left hand side, but after checking on Centamap, it is indeed also the same block as seen on film - the three closest blocks all being built in 1966 and the one with the angled front (far right in the screen cap) was actually built in 1960.

Jaguar Lives - Joe Lewis (1978) - Penha Church, Macau

Our last post for Jaguar Lives for the time being as we see Joe (or at least a stuntman) busting some moves on the square in front of Penha Church.

The last picture gives us a nice view looking towards Taipa and the Ponte Governador Nobre de Carvalho connecting Taipa to the Macau peninsula.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Jaguar Lives - Joe Lewis (1978) - Inner Harbour, Macau

Over to Macau now for a quick visit and some sights around the inner harbour area including the floating casino, the Kwong Hing Tai Firecracker company building (or at least the back of it facing the water) and a few more places worth mentioning.

In the above screencap we can see Joe surveying the shoreline. The low art deco style building in the centre screen is still around. I don't know anything about it but like its style and can see from Streetview that it is currently housing a company called "Tak Wah". Obviously we don't have "Waterview" yet, so I've had to settle for this land-side image from Streetview. It seems to be a working warehouse still. Incidentally, the building directly under Joe's chin is the former Grande Hotel. We looked at this place a few posts ago in Robert Mitchum's Macao.

The next shot is not a great one for scenery courtesy of the fact that ol' Joe is blocking most of it, but look on the right and you can see Penha Church up on the hill.

The next shot shows the back of the Kwong Hing Tai Firecracker building on the water. This is a great art deco style building and was once the feature of a post on my old blog. I shall resurrect it at some point but until then you can see the waterside rear of the building where firecrackers were loaded off onto boats for distribution. We also have a view of the stylish front courtesy of Streetview again.

Finally, here is the famous floating Casino looking less than splendid thanks to the fact that it was covered in bamboo scaffolding when they filmed this. It was called the Casino Macau Palace and has been seen here a couple of times in the past. It's gone now, but not sure when.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Jaguar Lives - Joe Lewis (1978) - Aberdeen Harbour, Aberdeen

Aberdeen featuring extensively in the following scene as Lewis follows a local hood back to his hiding place and discovers how they are transporting drugs (hidden in buckets of fish). We get a thorough tour of the whole area starting with the waterfront right in front of the town, but there are some interesting sights.

Starting at the top of Brick Hill - I believe the film was made in the year that Ocean Park opened but I don't know if the cable car was a feature of the park at the time - we zoom down into the harbour area. In the second picture you can see the uprights of what was to become the Ap Lei Chau road bridge. This started construction in January 1977. The space at the back on Brick Hill is now occupied by the Canadian International School that was hitting the headlines last year with its various troubles. The bottom picture in this series shows the wide angle view with the former Police Station up on the hillside. We've seen this building in many a movie on this blog.

We catch a closer look at the former Police Station in the following screencap as the action moves down onto the water.

But following that we also see some other buildings that are still very much around. The buildings you see below are the ones that now front Wu Nam St. Of course in 1978 they were along the waterfront but that has since been reclaimed and become the main bus terminal as well as having the widened Aberdeen Praya Road running across the front (it's actually a highway for through traffic now).

You can see the same block on this Streetview grab, although from the side because trees along the road prevent me from getting a similar view. It's also useful to see how much has been reclaimed in front. So, to put some context there, the camera would probably have been somewhere around where the left hand carriageway of the highway now stands (bottom left of the picture).

Our next shot shows us looking over towards the Tai Pak. I'm not sure on the position of the Tai Pak in 1978 but I do know that the Jumbo had also been opened a couple of years before. Tai Pak is now part of Jumbo Kingdom and sits right next to the Jumbo over at the Shum Wan end of the harbour, but it's possible it was still at the Aberdeen end when this was filmed.

Speaking of the Jumbo, as we just were, it makes a surprise appearance but not at this part of the film. The following screencap is actually taken during a sequence when the action moves over to Macau and the film makers either intentionally or unwittingly stuck in the Jumbo footage as part of the montage. It's quite possible they mistook it for the Macau floating casino, which we will see in a later post.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Jaguar Lives - Joe Lewis (1978) - Pottinger Street, Central

It wasn't too difficult to place this particular scene due to Pottinger Street's floor slabs, but also courtesy of the building in the background with the vertical fins which sits at 76 Wellington St - on the north corner where it intersects with the higher portion of Pottinger St.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Jaguar Lives - Joe Lewis (1978) - Aberdeen Chinese Permanent Cemetery, Aberdeen

Despite being in the background of most Aberdeen scenes featured on this blog, the Aberdeen Chinese Permanent Cemetery has only been properly used once before on these pages - by Robert Clouse for 1974's Golden Needles.

Anyway, here is where Joe clandestinely meets up with a local contact providing some information. The top (and second) photo show the old Shek Pai Wan Estate which was found to have stability issues and redeveloped in the 1990's.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Jaguar Lives - Joe Lewis (1978) - Peking Road, Kowloon

Time for a new film and back to colour for the time being as we follow Joe Lewis as the 'Jaguar' pursuing a criminal mastermind. Joe was in fact a famous tournament fighter back in the 1960's and is often credited with the development of kickboxing and full-contact karate. Not many people know that he was also a friend of Bruce Lee's during the 60's and was even trained by him for a time before a much publicised falling out. Anyway, first off the bat is a visit to somewhere that should be familiar to regular readers of this blog, it's Peking Road in Tsim Sha Tsui with the famous Club Tasogare sign.

And for a Bruce bonus, here is Joe walking up the side alley on Peking Road which used to be the access path for the Red Lips bar. The bar has gone but the alleyway still exists between the blocks that front Lock Road and Hankow Road. These days it's used by vendors for small stalls selling trinkets and bags etc.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Macao - Robert Mitchum (1952) - Rua do Visconde Paco de Arcos, Macau

Having just been talking about the Hotel Grande in the previous post, this view shows the back of the hotel from the vantage point of the inner harbour area.

The hotel is actually the large structure on the right. I've passed this place almost every time I have visited Macau and never realised it had such a varied history. The building looks quite modern, at least compared to the older shop houses that line Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro next to it and was in fact built in 1940, just before the war broke out between Japan and neighbouring China. Macau, being a Portuguese colony remained neutral during the occupation years and as a result saw lots of wealthy refugees from Hong Kong escaping the Japanese oppression.

The Grande Hotel (Chinese name Kwok Chai Tsau Dim) was built by the Tai Heng Company - a company owned by the Fu family who controlled the gambling monopoly between 1937 and 1962. Their lasting contribution to Macau, other than this rather elegant (though dilapidated) shell of a building was to introduce baccarat into local casinos. It was supposedly built with Chinese patrons in mind, as opposed to the various other luxury hotels that catered largely for western visitors. On completion it was the tallest structure in Macau, topping out higher than its neighbour Hotel Central (which can be seen in the background in the above screen caps).

Unfortunately it didn't take long before the place descended into a rather less-than-salubrious destination with all manner of crimes going on including murders, prostitution and drug dealing etc and it eventually closed down in the 1990s and has been sitting there ever since getting more and more decrepit. I think this is a big shame because it is actually a very attractive building. I recently heard some rumours that there was an investor waiting to restore it to its former (pre-vice) glory and I hope it happens because something needs to be done and it would be a shame to just knock it down.

Incidentally, the wooden pier you can see in the foreground is now occupied by the Sofitel development and the tall building on the left is the (also still standing) Hotel East Asia. I'm not sure if this is the original Ponte 16, or perhaps Ponte 17 given its location slightly further up the road from the current Ponte 16. I'm hoping someone more familiar with Macau can comment.

Sadly, I don't have my own picture of the Hotel Grande but here is one courtesy of meckleychina on FLICKR. He also has a great collection of pictures of Asian art deco if you are interested.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Macao - Robert Mitchum (1952) - Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, Macau

A brief but almost recognisable glimpse along the far (western) end of  Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro aka San Ma Lo. This is one of my favourite roads in Macau because it is largely lined along both sides with columned shop houses, including a couple of interesting pawn shops. Probably the most well-known film featuring this road was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which I already covered significantly in this post from 2014.

Anyway, the view we get in this film is of the end that used to open out onto the inner harbour area with the less-than-salubrious but long closed down (and now derelict) Hotel Grande at the end. Despite the poor film quality, you can still make out some distinguishing features that give away the location including some of the cornice of the near archway and the extra high columns that support the front facade of the Hotel Grande building.

There's an interesting history to the aforementioned hotel, but I'll cover that in the next post where we see a bit more of it. Until then, here is the rough approximation of the modern view courtesy of Streetview. Note that the open end of the road is now blocked by the Sofitel. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Macao - Robert Mitchum (1952) - Tak Shing Ferry to Macau

Three years before we saw the Tak Shing in full colour glory courtesy of Clark Gable and Soldier of Fortune, it was featured in Mitchum's Macao as the ferry supposedly taking him and his cohorts to the enclave. The only difference between 1952 and 1955 seems to be that the ferry had a lick of paint on its hull before appearing on Soldier of Fortune in full colour.

Of course, Mitchum and co didn't actually travel on this ferry at all. All their scenes were filmed back in the studio in front of the back-projected footage expensively procured by Dick Davol, but it's nice to see he did get some decent footage of this famous Macau ferry boat.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Macao - Robert Mitchum (1952) - Inner Harbour, Macau

Another black and white film noir, this time starring Robert Mitchum who was featured on this blog last year courtesy of his starring role in Robert Clouse's The Amsterdam Kill. Macao was one of the first western films to be set in the "Far East" and unlike Target Hong Kong (made on the cheap using stock footage from Hong Kong and Shanghai to set the scene), RKO (the production company) sent a cameraman out (Dick Davol) to Macau (and Hong Kong as it turns out) in order to capture various bits of footage to be interwoven into the story as well as used for back projection back at the studio.

An interesting feature of Davol's trip seems to be that he had to run up a rather significant expense account paying bribes to the local authorities so he could film notably this included the Police Forces of both HK and Macau as well as the various boat owners, immigration officers, customs officers and even the Communist patrol boat crews!

Anyway, we shall start off this particular film with a view from the inner harbour looking towards the southern end of the peninsula. The camera work is a bit blurry and being black and white adds a little to the lack of clarity but if you looks carefully you should be able to the see the back end of Penha Church up on the hill (top left) and directly under it, about halfway down the hill, looks to be the Moorish Barracks building - the latter caught at a time when it could still be seen from sea level.

I don't know what the curved building is on the waterfront but its position tallies with the modern day Capitania Dos Portos (i.e. Macau Port Authority). You can just see the low rise shop houses along the waterfront (Rua Do Almirante Sergio), there are a few examples left but are now mostly hidden from view by various developments that have cropped up along the old pier areas.

Monday, 11 January 2016

The Chairman - Gregory Peck (1969) - More Harbour views

The last of the scenes from The Chairman (at least until I can get a street scene identified) showing various views taken from the harbour. I guess this was all Thompson (the director) could take without attracting unwanted attention from the authorities after being given the old heave ho.

The first shots shows one of the old HYF vehicular ferries plying the route between Central and Jordan Road by the looks of the way the boat is facing. In the background we can see Ocean Terminal with the Hongkong Hotel immediately behind it and Star House. Now, officially, the Hongkong Hotel didn't open until 1970 so I guess the filmmakers managed to capture it when it was still being fitted out - it certainly looks like the building was already completed. Star House and Ocean Terminal were fairly new at this time anyway.

Here's another angle of Ocean Terminal - probably taken from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel using a telephoto lens. The angle certainly matches the view we saw in the earlier post. In the closer shot below though we can see Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter behind Ocean Terminal and the Ferry Point Estate at the far end of it on the left hand side of the lower picture.

Finally, in order the demonstrate how clear everything used to be, compared to today's smoggy and hazy harbour views, here is a nice shot from the harbour looking over to the centre of HK Island (towards Causeway Bay and North Point area).

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The Chairman - Gregory Peck (1969) - Hau Wong Road, Kowloon City

A small snippet from the same plane scene I posted about earlier but I kept this one for later because there is a quick glimpse of a famous HK restaurant in it.

There is a surprising amount of survivors from this small scene, most notably the Lok Hau Fuk Restaurant (樂口福酒家) whose sign can be seen in the first picture - it's the blue sign directly underneath the plane. I took a picture of this place several years ago on one of my early explorations of HK and by pure coincidence was told a few years later that it was featured in a famous local HK film (directed by Johnnie To) called The Mission (1999). Anyway, the restaurant is one of the few columned shop house survivors that can be found in Kowloon City along Hau Wong Road. Here is my picture (taken sometime around 2008 I think).

It's not a match for the film in terms of angle but that doesn't matter because we can get a pretty good match via Streetview. The grab below shows that most of the buildings seen in 1968 (The Chairman was released in 1969 but actually filmed the year before) including the restaurant, the curved building on the corner with Prince Edward Road West and the tenement behind it further along Hau Wong Road.

The only real change in this area (other than the rather significant removal of the airport to Chek Lap Kok) is that the lower screen grab shows a clear view over to the airport area as the plane flies over. This view is now obscured (and has been for many years) by the flyover built above Prince Edward Road. You can see it below and compare it to the last picture in the series posted above.

Friday, 8 January 2016

The Chairman - Gregory Peck (1969) - View over Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

In the film Peck stays at an unnamed hotel, but it's quite obvious from the view that the film crew managed to gain access to a balcony/terrace (or perhaps roof) on the Mandarin Oriental. I guess it's possible they were staying there and took advantage of the location to get some shots in before having to leave.

We see the same view a couple of times, once as a scene setter and then later when Peck's character (he's called Hathaway in the film) peers out of his room window.

First there is the initial panning shot which I also merged into a fairly decent panorama as you can see. It's a pretty good look over the harbour taking in Kowloon as well as nearer sites such as the old Star Ferry pier with its famous and dearly missed clock as well as Queen's Pier (also dearly missed but due to make a return if it hasn't already) and the white block in the lower left is City Hall.

Then later in the film we get an additional look the other way showing the buildings along Connaught Road. Some of these buildings do still exist despite everything around them changing. You can also see the old vehicular ferry pier and the large car park that was eventually turned into Exchange Square.