Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter, Causeway Bay

There's lots to see in the next scene where Avalon's character suddenly stumbles across Nader's as he is heading back to Sumuru's island. The whole sequence takes place on the causeway that once linked Kellet Island with Hong Kong. Actually, we've seen this area previously in Suzie Wong but in this film we get a much better look at the surrounding environment.

The scene starts with the camera pointing at the water of the shelter before panning south (to the right) showing the full extent (almost) of the causeway. Notice the far East Motor Company building at the back - the same one we can see in that Suzie Wong link. This whole area was taken over as the entry/exit point for the HK-side of the cross harbour tunnel. I believe the chimneys poking up behind Avalon's head on the third picture belonged to the famous North Point Power Station. The site was later redeveloped into the City Garden development.

A rather more expansive view of the waterfront is also to be had in this scene showing Gloucester Road before the Wanchai reclamation added a whole new portion of waterfront closer to Kowloon. There's something very striking about the second picture, it's not just the buildings but the fact that you can still see the mountains at the back. Sadly, all you can see these days is just the odd bit of green poking out between the various gaps in the skyscrapers.

Finally we also get a view the other way towards Kellet Island and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. I don't think the building has changed that much, but of course the club gained a whole bunch of land courtesy of the reclamation. The steps that Avalon runs down looks to be the one that is still there. It looks quite new in the film though.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

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

Like the other Harry Alan Towers'-produced Five Golden Dragons, Sumuru also uses the Hilton quite extensively through the film and it looks as though they used to same high level suite for the filming in both movies. Both inside and outside of the hotel can be seen on film. We'll start with these pictures taken outside the entrance and showing the Hilton's very own rickshaws.

Actually, I wasn't convinced of the provenance of these rickshaws and wondered if they had been created just for the film,but a very helpful chap called Chan Tse-leung was able to confirm that they were indeed the real deal. Of course since then I have also noticed they make an appearance in one of the screen grabs I have for Five Golden Dragons (see second picture on the link).

In tye following pictures we can also see the oppiste side of Queen's Road. The top picture shows the lower portion of the old Bank of China and in the second picture you can see the rear entrance of the old HSBC building as well as the old Govt offices west wing in the distance.

A couple more Hilton-related shots include the same bamboo furniture in the hotel suite (check out the link I already posted for the rickshaw shots and scroll down).

And in case you hadn't spotted it in the last post about Queen's Pier, the boat that Frankie Avalon boards with his female contact was the Hong Kong Hilton's very own Wan Fu. We haven't seen the Wan Fu since we looked at another Hilton-centric film, Kill a Dragon, a couple of years ago.

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Queen's Pier, Central

While his buddy is being kidnapped by Sumuru, Frankie Avalon runs around Hong Kong trying to locate him and meets a mysterious women along the Central harbour front who claims to have information.

The encounter occurs right next to the famous Queen's Pier. It's been a regular feature on this blog. The fate of the disassembled (and supposedly stored) pier has yet to be decided, but it looks as though it may be reconstructed between the two public piers along the Central waterfront.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Choi Hung Estate, Choi Hung

Another reversed image is the following one from what I initially thought was Kwun Tong Road. However, after investigating the build dates of the various blocks that I thought they were, it made no sense.

So this one needs to be reversed as well so it looks like this.

The block under construction is Kam Wan House at the west end of the estate. The road system around here has changed significantly and I don't have anything to reference it to at the moment but I suspect the road the bus is on is part of Choi Hung Road. Currently this area has a roundabout on it and is where the Choi Hung Road turns into the Kwun Tong Road.

According to wiki, Kam Wan House was completed in 1964 which puts this shot firmly out of the timeline for the actual shoot of this film. So I think my suspicions about these last few locations being stock footage is probably correct.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Repulse Bay Hotel, Repulse Bay

The next quick, but reversed, shot is a glimpse from the garden terrace of the Repulse Bay Hotel. Here is the image as it appears in the film.

But the eagle-eyed of you might have noticed the small chain of islets sticking out from the headland at the back with Tau Chau (the largest) just above the post on the right of the screen. The problem is this small group of rocks is actually on the east side of the bay, not the west, so this is how it should have looked.

Of course, the hotel was demolished and rebuilt into a shopping mall by the HK and Shanghai Hotels group but it looks as though the terrace and, in particular, this wall escaped the redevelopment. There is certainly a wall that fronts the locations terrace above Repulse Bay Road that looks exactly the same as this but I don't know enough to say whether or not it is the original one. I hope it is.

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Chater Road, Central

The following screencap is the first of several that have been flipped during the editing process. This has happened in several of the films I've covered on this blog and I just think it boils down to a lack of knowledge on the part of the people responsible for splicing it all together at the end. Not really a big issue for most people, but for me it can sometimes cause a bit of confusion if I am trying to figure out the angle of an image.

Anyway, this is one of the establishing shots that confirms we are indeed in Hong Kong. The shot is along Chater Road looking at the old Hong Kong Club (and what looks like the old annexe building sticking out behind it).

There are a couple of pointers as to why this is flipped, the most obvious is then reversed writing on the vehicle on the far right. But look behind and you can also see the City Hall building in the gaps between the vehicles. Here's how it should look in reality.

According to Gwulo, the Hong Kong Club annexe was knocked down circa 1966. I'd be very surprised if this wasn't stock footage though and not shot specifically for this film at the time. I need to confirm the shooting dates but I was under the impression the film was late 1966. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Rawlinson House Now and Then

As promised, I made the trip over to Hong Kong Park today to grab some modern comparisons of the scenes we can see in The Million Eyes of Sumuru. It's hard to believe that 1967 is almost 50 years ago and yet some places in Hong Kong haven't really changed that much at all.

Anyway, below are my best efforts at comparison (I was doing it from memory rather). Picture one shows the view from near the entrance by Cotton Tree Drive. Obviously the tree growth obscures our more open view but the angle is more or less spot on.

Picture two shows the view from the top of the small road next to the entrance to Rawlinson House. Okay, so I was a bit further up the slope than intended but I think in the film grab the guys are only a little bit further down from where the kiosk is. I think, but this is obviously just a guess, that the kiosk is around where the right hand side gatepost was.

If you look closely at the picture below of the old garage, you might just be able to make out the steps that are behind it. I am hoping this is the same set of steps that are still in this part of the park. I would find it strange if steps had been removed and replaced so I am going to bet that the current steps up the hill are the same ones we see behind the garage. What do you think?

The picture below shows the building's front entrance (at least I assume this side was the front entrance and not the opposite end that looks onto Cotton Tree Drive). This is now the main entrance for the Marriage Registry that now occupies Rawlinson House. In the film, Frankie Avalon hides behind the central pillar when one of Sumuru's followers comes out to investigate what triggered the alarm.

And finally, once Avalon has entered the building, he stops by the window with the mismatched balustrades. Guess what, it's still there and I tracked it down to a window about halfway down the side of the building. It's not possible to see from the film because there's a tree in the way, but the balustrade on the far left of the window is in fact one of the original ones as you can see from my picture. How am I sure this is the same window? Well, none of the others had the same configuration of balustrades, so assuming nothing has changed since the filming then this appears to be the one.

Anyway, it was an interesting wander around the park today and it's nice to see this kind of stuff after 50 years. If anyone was stationed at the barracks back in the 60's it would be great to hear from anyone with any memories of the place and particularly if they recall the filming taking place.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Hong Kong International Airport, Kai Tak

An interesting view of Kai Tak from this film as a plane swoops in to land over Kowloon City.

Interestingly, in the middle and bottom pictures you can just make out (lower left and lower right, respectively) the Chinese-style building of the Sheng Kung Hui Holy Trinity Church along Ma Tau Chung Road. The church is still around although it no longer enjoys such unfettered views. The building with the big Sanyo advert on the side is also still around (456 - 464 Prince Edward Rd East) although no longer needed for adverts.

The next picture is interesting because it indicates the proximity of the filming between this and Five Golden Dragons. The chap with the overcoat slung over his arm is the same actor (sorry, I don't know his name) who gets topped at the beginning of Five Golden Dragons. Here is a reminder.

It seems a bit odd for him to have such a small role so he was either based in HK anyway or was hanging around waiting for his larger role in the other film. Anyway, I'll finish with this shot of a plane taking off from the old runway.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Rawlinson House, Hong Kong Park

The bad guys have a hideout and it turns out that it was Rawlinson House in what is now Hong Kong Park. Back then it was in the middle of Victoria Barracks and was painted white, these days it's been given a sort of orange makeover and been turned into the Marriage Registry. Thankfully one of the buildings that was kept and restored whilst 90% of the other buildings in the barracks area were demolished.

In the first shot we see the heroes arriving in a car and a building can be seen up on the hill, I can't quite make out if this is Rawlinson House that we initially see but it certainly occupies a small hill in the park and this would mean the car is going in via what is now the entrance from Cotton Tree Drive. Of course, it could be this one was one of the other buildings in the park that has since gone, so I will keep my mind open at this point.

The next shots shows Nader and Avalon walking up the road to the building entrance where there is a garage. You can still walk up this road although the garage that formed part of the building has since been demolished.

And in case you were still having doubts about where we are, we then get a glimpse of the front of the property. Feel free to compare it with this shot from the AMO. I do have shots of this area but unfortunately they were taken during a friend's wedding so they may not appreciate being splashed all over the internet, so I will go back and take some comparison shots if I get a chance this week.

For a bit of further confirmation, I think I may try and seek out the window space from the next shot, notice that the balustrades next to Frankie Avalon are of mixed design. The balustrades on the right hand side are the design that seem to feature throughout the building, but it looks as though at least 4 were replaced at some point. It would be nice to see if this little feature can still be discerned on the building. Watch this space. 

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Shaw House, Clearwater Bay

The next time we see a bit of the old Movietown is when Nader bumps into the British intelligence officer (played by Wilfred Hyde-White, who I remember best from the 1980's Buck Rogers series). The venue of the meeting is the front courtyard in front of Shaw House with its famous blue-tiled arch.

There has been recent talk about Movietown being redeveloped which is inevitable in HK these days. Many of the buildings have been given heritage listings but in reality unless they are made a gazetted monument they can all easily be ripped down without any repercussions for the instigator. Actually, in HK I think even if a gazetted monument was "accidentally" destroyed there would be little the Govt would do to deter it happening again. Such is the way HK Govt works.

Anyway, let's hope that any future redevelopment would at least keep the iconic and stylish Shaw House as some sort of clubhouse, or hand it over to the Govt (or me ;-) ) and turn it into a Shaw Museum.