Wartime And Postwar Cinema

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The Japanese bombed Shanghai in 1932, disrupting film production. By 1937 the film industry in China dispersed from Shanghai to Chungking (the wartime capital) and Hong Kong. Between 1933 and 1941 four hundred Cantonese films were made in Hong Kong, many with patriotic themes. When the Japanese occupied Hong Kong in 1941 production abruptly ceased, though the screening of films, mostly American, continued. By 1943 the occupying Japanese formed a coalition and began to make pro-Japan films without the participation of Hong Kong film companies.

Immediately after World War II ended the Great China Film Company, which had existed before the war, resumed filmmaking in both Cantonese and Mandarin. One year later, a new company, Yung Wah (Yonghua), was formed by a rich, well-educated film enthusiast, Lee Tsu Wing from Shanghai. Yung Wah made Mandarin films that were lavishly supported by money, stars, and directors from Shanghai. Among them were the excellent actresses Li Li-Wah and Lin Dai, and directors Li Han Hsiang (Li Hanxiang; 1926-1996) and Chiang Nam. All of these talents stayed in Hong Kong after the collapse of the company in the early 1950s and became the core group of filmmakers for the later, dominant Shaw Brothers company. Yung Wah's first film, Guo bun (Soul of China, 1948), was a box-office success. It was directed by Shanghai's Po Man Chun, who later would become one of the most important directors in Chinese film history. In contrast, Cantonese films were made with much less money by smaller companies, and the quality was usually poor.

During this time, a number of left-wing filmmakers came from China to Hong Kong to make films, includ-

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