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Oct 17, 2013

Cantonese Sad Movies in the Early Days

Poster of [月林椰] (Moon over Malaya).  Photo courtesy of the family of Ho Kian-ngiap.
The above photos of the scenes from the Cantonese movie [月林椰] (Moon over Malaya), one of the popular movies made by Kong Ngee Co. Ltd in 1957 and screened in the theatres in Singapore.

Few have heard of the Kong Ngee Film Company, set up by Singapore brothers Ho Khee-yong and Ho Khee-siang, but it was a film studio which produced numerous iconic Cantonese films in the 1950s and 1960s.  From Oct 10 - 20, 2013, the National Museum of Singapore will present The Story of Kong Ngee, an account of the studio's rise and fall, through a showcase of 15 outstanding Cantonese films it produced from the 1950s and 1960s. (Source: AsiaOne).

I had been waiting for this 56-year-old black-and-white Charity Screening of 'Moon Over Malaya' here .

In fact, I had created the "Memory Movies for Singaporeans" group on Facebook .

The purpose of this group is to share with fellow senior citizen Singaporeans to watch old movies in Malay, Chinese, Indian and English which are no longer screened in the cinemas in Singapore.

With the courtesy of many YouTube contributors who upload to YouTube, everyone are invited to support this group to the "virtual cinemas" to watch long forgotten movies on Facebook.

If the great grandparents, grandparents or elderly parents of neighbors are not Internet savvy to watch videos on YouTube or other websites to screen old movies, please help them to enjoy and revive old memories of movies which they have seen so many years ago. Share the joy of our elders with Internet technology and YouTube old movies. Please help family inter-generational bonding in a fun way.

With thanks to the National Museum of Singapore, I had the opportunity to watch the movie at the National Museum Gallery Theatre on Saturday 12 October, 2013 with a complimentary ticket.

The movie was "full house" and there were many senior citizens, accompanied by their children and grandchildren.  It is hoped that selective "memory movies" could be screened in "non-commercial theatres" like the National Museum Gallery Theatre or community centres for the benefit of the communities of various ethnic groups in Singapore.

Before the show started, Mr Bede Cheng introduced the nostalgic movies screened in  "The Story of Kong Ngee" in Cantonese and English.

I thought the elderly audience could not be touched by the movie to shed tears when watching a five decade movie.  Many sobbed loudly and brought out their handkerchieves from their bags or pockets, women as well as men  ... they were not embarrassed by the human drama as if it happened to them or somebody they knew in their life.  This is not a funny story to laugh about.

'Moon Over Malaya' [月林椰] in Cantonese is the kind of sad movies in the early days. 

Anyone remembers the song "Sad Movies" by Sue Thompson in 1976 was a popular sad song in Singapore?

There were many popular Cantonese sad movies screened in Singapore about 60 years ago.

I have seen a few of these movies in Atlantic Theatre or Canton Theatre in Great World Amusement Park in the 1950s when I was 7 or 8 years-old with my elder sisters.

In the early days, children accompanied by adults are free of charge as long as the seats in the theatres are shared with their adults. 

I watched many of these sad movies which my elder sisters were my favorites.

Because I was not born a girl, I could not understand the feelings of the young girls like my elder sisters who enjoyed these sad movies.  Throughout the movie, I noticed my sisters and the audience were crying and sobbing, very loudly unashamedly.  They brought out their handkerchieves and tears was flowing down their faces.  After the movie was over, we could notice the audience, mostly young girls, with red eyes swollen and facial expression of sadness.  The stories of the movies must be very sad ...  I did not understand and wondered why they bought movie tickets to make them cry!

In a free literature distributed to the visitors at the National Museum Gallery Theatre,  an excerpted article "Malayan Love Songs in Turbulent Times" related to "Moon over Malaya" with courtesy of Mr Toh Hun Ping, a video artist and formerly a media art teacher.

In Moon over Malaya, after the somewhat "touristy" introductory sequence, the film story proper commences with the main protagonist Ngok Ming visiting a school "Overseas Chinese Girls' School") that he helped to establish seven years ago.  He is returning to run the school after a period of self-imposed exile.  Numerous rows of students and a handful of teachers applaud after Ngok Ming makes an emotional speech and vows to never forsake them and the work of education again.

椰林月 / Moon Over Malaya (1957 出品)
导演 (Director): Chun Kim 秦剑
演员 (Cast): Patrick Tse Yin 谢贤, Nam Hung 南红, Patsy Kar Ling 嘉玲, Keung Chung-ping 姜中平

"Moon Over Malaya" is one of the three films (since labelled collectively as the Nanyang Trilogy).  The trailer uploaded to YouTube entitled as 马来亚 (Malaya).



Blogger Unk Dicko said...

Well done James. This will keep the history and hopefully love for Cantonese films and dialect ..alive and well.

October 17, 2013 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 24, 2013 at 12:56 AM  
Blogger michaelfromsingapura said...

Dear James, Just to let you know , i am so thankful for bloggers like you and many others for such well researched article, truly a work of love. I enjoyed yr Queentown & Tanglin Halt. The Moon over Malay clips were pricelss. I grew up in those days of Tse Yin, KarLing and NamHung. MichaelTai

March 27, 2014 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger michaelfromsingapura said...

Hi, Just to let you know tt i truly appreciate your work here- labour of love. Enjoyed your well researched blog on Queenstown and Tanglin Halt. AND the B&W clips on Moon over Malaya. Precious.

March 27, 2014 at 9:33 AM  

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