Tuesday, November 03, 2009

(3) Showcasing New Songs: 30s - 40s Shanghai Movie: 'Street Angel' (Ma Lu Tian Shi)


As a younger person in the 50s, blogger goes to either the Queen's Cinema at Geylang Road or the Jubilee at North Bridge Road in Singapore to watch Chinese movies. This particular film is one of them.

The songs Wandering Songstress (tian ya ge nu) and The Four Seasons Song (Si Ji Ge), by Zhou Xuan, featured in the 1937 movie Street Angel (Ma Lu Tian Shi). She was about 18 at that time and played the part of Xiao Hung, a young girl who had to follow her exploitative father on his rounds of teahouses to sing for a living. The father accompanied her singing on an erhu (spike-fiddle or southern fiddle), the Chinese instrument featured.

Xiao Hung had a kind-hearted elder sister who was also exploited by the greedy parents and was made to walk the streets of Shanghai, having been forced into the oldest profession; thus came the movie title, Street Angel.

In Zhou Xuan's times, a movie is sometimes just a convenient vehicle to showcase new songs from potentially popular Chinese actors/singers. This song had little to do with the main storyline and depicts the longings of a girl for her distant lover through the four seasons. Zhou Xuan's character had a love interest in the form of a struggling, marching band trumpeter.

Reference/article edited: You Tube - De Producers.


dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, nice to read 'bout your viewin' in days past...

Andy Young* said...

Yes, DMT, it's all about our past. Like Dino's heritage, Singapore music evolves around Asia's multifarious culture.

Anonymous said...

I know you’ve been looking for something else, something with Chinese lyrics, but that doesn’t insult your intelligence or sense of musical taste. Something you can actually appreciate musically, and not just tolerate because it may be helping your Chinese listening skills.

Here’s what you need: Now playing on my iPod and home sound system, soon to be on yours, I trust, is the recording “Shanghai Night” by singer Zhou Xuan, known as “The Golden Voice” in 1930’s-40’s China.

I’m not saying that she’s “The Chinese Billie Holiday” or “The Chinese Marlene Dietrich,” but her music fits quite nicely on the same playlist as theirs.

Actually, on second thought, the details of her life and its trials and tribulations do make her somewhat of a Billie Holiday character.
From: The Chinese Outpost