1. A note on Chinese names and translation of Chinese film titles, dialogues and songs: Pinyin is the preferred mode for transcribing Chinese names and words. Not every Chinese person has a romanized name or a western-style name such as Ivy, as in the case of Ling Bo (pinyin). But in instances where this kind of monikers is known, my paper will reflect them — for example, Ivy is also known as Ling Boh and Ling Po. This paper also uses the Chinese order for Chinese name — thus “Tan” (surname) precedes “See Kam” (given name). Unless otherwise stated, all translation of Chinese film titles, dialogues and songs are mine. Not all Chinese film comes with a title in English. Here erstwhile Shaw Brothers productions are exceptional. They generally have both Chinese and English subtitles as well. But the English translation frequently leaves room for improvement — for example The Perfumed Arrow (1967) which is not yet digitally restored by Celestial Pictures. Generally speaking, Celestial Pictures version of Shaw Brothers productions are relatively more nativespeaker-friendly. Its Chinese subtitles are now arranged to be read from left to right, unlike Shaw Brothers’ original releases which typically feature a right-to-left ordering of words. Brevity appears to be a guiding principle for Celestial Pictures when it comes to translating Chinese dialogues and songs into English. I will therefore offer a fuller translation when expositional contexts demand that it be done.

2. An earlier version of this paper, entitled “Confucianism, Gender and Diaspora: A Study of Ivy Ling Bo’s Huangmei Opera Films,” was presented at the National, Transnational, and International: Chinese Cinema and Asian Cinema in the Context of Globalizationconference, jointly co-hosted by Peking University, Shanghai University, and Asian Cinema Studies Society (ACSS), in the summer of 2005. It has been included as part of this conference proceedings (Shanghai: Shanghai University/Peking University/ACSS, 2005, Vol. 2, 394-404), and has since been translated into Chinese for the “Special Issue Commemorating the 100th Year Anniversary of the Birth of Chinese Cinema” in Contemporary Cinema/Dang Dai Dian Ying 6.129 (2005), 41-48.

3. This is my take on the story.

4. Zhou Jingshu, ed., Grand Collection of Liang-Zhu Culture/Liang Zhu Wenhua Daguan, 4 vols. (Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, 1999).

5. Siu Leung Li, Cross-Dressing in Chinese Opera (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University, 2006), 110-134

6. Given the Cold War in the postwar ear, it is conceivable that Taiwan would have banned the New China version. If released at all, the Cantonese version, on the other hand, would not have traveled well since Cantonese was a not a widely used language in Taiwan which formed one of the biggest markets for Chinese language films at the time.

7. In 1988, Shaw Brothers co-founded Cosmopolitan Film Company with TVB, and began making films again, but this time, only sporadically. Cosmopolitan’s output averages 1.5 films yearly between 1988 and 2002. TVB is a free-to-air commercial TV station in Hong Kong; its current largest shareholder is Run Run Shaw, also the founder of Shaw Brothers.

8. Bootleg videos were usually reproduced from old and sometimes deteriorated film prints, including The Dawn Will Come (1966) and The Perfumed Arrow (1967) which, at the time of writing this paper, have yet to be released by Celestial Pictures. I unwittingly purchased them while in Singapore in the late 1990s. During a trip to Hong Kong around this time, I also saw them for sale in video stores. I found out that they were bootleg copies inadvertently. This occurred when I contacted Zestbase Entertainment Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia). At the time, I had hoped to add more erstwhile Shaw films (on video-related format) to my collection. The VCD sleeve for The Dawn Will Come and The Perfumed Arrow names Zestbase as the distributor; it also prints the company’s address, telephone number and fax number. This notwithstanding, Zestbase was quick to disassociate itself from these titles.

9. In this paper, unless otherwise stated, the nomination “Shaw” in a short-hand for Shaw Brothers and its affiliates such as Shaw and Sons (1950 — 58), including their parent company, Shaw Organisation (1927 — ).

10. “Celestial Movies Launches The Best of Chinese Cinema to Movie Lovers Around The Globe,” (3 March 2003), “Celestial Movies Launches The Best of Chinese Cinema Exclusively on STARHUB CableTV” (4 April 2003), “Celestial Movies Launches the World's First Global 24-Hour Chinese Movie Channel on Jadeworld in Australia” (15 March 2004), “Celestial Pictures Expands Distribution to Latin America, Italy & Eastern Europe,” (11 May 2004), “Siren to Distribute Celestial Pictures’ Shaw Brothers Movies in OZ & NZ,” (12 May 2004), “Celestial Movies Enters China” (23 September 2004), and “Image Entertainment and Celestial Reach Agreement for North American Video Distribution of Shaw Brothers Titles” (November 9, 2005); all at
(March 16, 2006).

11. Wong Ain-ling, “Preface,” in Wong Ain-Ling, ed., The Shaw Screen: A Preliminary Study (Hong Kong, Hong Kong Film Archive, 2003), vi.

12. Cf., Edwin W. Chen, “Musical China, Classical Impressions: A Preliminary Study of Shaws’ Huangmei Diao Film”; Peggy Chiao Hsiung-ping, trans. Stephen Teo, “The Female Consciousness, The World of Signification and Safe Extramarital Affairs: A 40th Year Tribute to The Love Eterne”; and Wong Sui-kei, “A Painter and His Brush: Li Han-hsiang’s Beyond the Great Wall and Other Works”; all in Wong, ed., The Shaw Screen, 51-73, 76-85, 87-93.

13. Chen Weizhi, I Love Huangmei Tune: Classic Impressions of Traditional China — A Preliminary Study of Hong Kong and Taiwan’s Huangmei Opera Films/Wo Ai Huangmei Diao: Si Zhu Zhong Guo, Gu Dian Yin Xiang — Gang Tai Huangmei Diao Dian Ying Chu Tan/ (Taipei: Mu Chun Du Shu, 2005); Ng Ho, Period Drama, Huangmei Opera/Guzhuang, Xiayi, Huangmei Diao (Hong Kong: Joint Publishing, 2004).

14. See Tan See Kam, “The Cross-gender Performances of Yam Kim-Fei, or the Queer Factor in Postwar Hong Kong Cantonese Opera/Opera Films,” Journal Of Homosexuality 3/4 (2000): 201-211; reprint in Andrew Grossman, ed., Queer Asian Cinema: Shadows in The Shade (Binghamton, New York: Harrington Park Press, 2000), 201-211; and Tan See Kam and Annette Aw, “Love Eterne: Almost A (Heterosexual) Love Story,” in Chris Berry, ed., Chinese Film in Focus: 26 New Takes (London, bfi, 2003), 139-43. The picture in the latter article is inserted by mistake. It is in fact a publicity shot for the Shanghai Film Studio’s production of the Liang-Zhu legend (1954).

15. Cf., Rick Lyman, “Watching Movies with Ang Lee: Crouching Memory, Hidden Heart,” New York Times (3 September 2001).
(1 June 2002).

16. See Tan, “The Cross-gender Performances of Yam Kim-Fei …,” 201-211; Cf., Tan and Aw, “Love Eterne …,” 139-43.

17. Huangmei opera TV productions first appeared in Taiwan in 1972. PRC’s Huangmei opera TV film or series surfaced in the early 1980s. Hong Kong’s TV studios, on the other hand, have never made any. In the present-time, it would seem only PRC TV studios, especially those in Anhui, would embark on such productions; but they are occasional events. Huangmei opera has a longer, if not the longest, endurance range; this is largely due to the efforts of state-funded Huangmei opera schools in Anhui to keep the cultural enterprise going. There is also the matter that demand, albeit limited, exists for Huangmei opera productions in Anhui, around the country, and abroad.

18. Wang Shi Man et al., ed., A Survey of Huangmei Xi/Huang Mei Xi Tong Lun ( Hefei: Anhui Ren Min Chu Ban She, 2000), p. 130

19. Ibid., pp. 5-8.

20. Lu Hongfei, cited; ibid., p.10

21. Cf., Xu Shaohua, “Hong Kong’s China Music/Xiang Gang de Zhong Guo Yin Yue,” in Zhu Ruibing, ed., An Overview of the Developments in Hong Kong Music/Xiang Gang Yin Yue Fa Zhan Gai Lun (Hong Kong: Joint Publishing, 1999),302-04.

22. See The Shaw Story: 77 Years of Entertaining the World,
(18 January 2003), 28;

Cf., Ramona Curry, “Bridging The Pacific With Love Eterne: Issues In Early Crossover Marketing Of Hong Kong Cinema,” in Poshek Fu, ed., Constructing Pan-Chinese Cultures: Globalism & The Shaw Brothers Cinema (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, forthcoming.)

23. Cf., Law Kar, “Some Observations on the Yonghua and Asia Film Consumption: The Shadow of Tradition and the Left-Right Struggle,” in The China Factor in Hong Kong Cinema (Hong Kong: Urban Council/HKIFF, 1990), 15-20.

24. In this light, it would seem ironic that Shaw Brothers’ The Lotus Lamp (dir. Yue Feng, 1965) never found release in Taiwan. This Huangmei opera film recounts the well-know folktale about the transcendental love between a goddess and a mortal, the goddess’ subsequent incarceration under Hua Mountain as penance for her transgression of the deity-human divide, and her eventual rescue by their son. MP & GI has an equivalent version which, like its rival’s, is also called Bao Lian Deng. Otherwise known as The Magic Lamp (dir. Wang Tian Lin et al.), MP & GI’s version was allowed to play in Taiwan the year before, as a Chinese New Year attraction. Like Shaw Brothers, MP & GI was deemed a “freedom fighter.”

Speaking of the ban years later, actress Cheng Pei-pei (Zheng Peipei), who plays the male lead role in The Lotus Lamp claims that the dance sequence at the film’s closing was the issue. Zheng, also a trained dancer, choreographed the dance based a type of popular folkdance called yang ge which peasants typically perform when celebrating the start of the sowing season. The dance’s celebratory tone would seem fitting for the film’s ending, which shows a happy reunion between father, mother and son in a rural setting, but the censors in Taiwan construed — much to Zheng’s surprise and amusement — the dance as a “gong fei wu,” or the dance of the communist bandits. Because of this, the film was banned.

Zheng Peipei, “The Director Who Showed Me the Path to Buddhism — Yue Feng/Dai Wo Ru Pusa Dao De Dao Yang Yue Lao Ye,” in Monographs of Hong Kong Film Veterans 1 (Hong Kong: Hong Kong Film Archive, 2000), 75. Although published in the same collection, the English translated version of Zheng’s article (pp. 79-81) makes no reference to this anecdote.

25. Cf., Li, Cross-dressing in Chinese Opera.

26. Nanguo. No. 59 (1963)
(1 January 2004). The English title for Nanguo, Shaw Brother’s in-house film magazine, is Southern Screen.

27. Cf., Isabelle Duchesne, “The Chinese Opera Star: Role and Identity,” in John Hay, ed., Boundaries in China (London: Reaktion Books, 1994), 217-242.

28. The Lotus Lamp is Zheng’s first and only Huangmei opera film. According to Zheng, Shaw Brothers had hoped to broom her as “Ling Bo Number Two.” She found stardom as the Queen of wuxia pian, or swordplay films instead. See Zheng, “The Director …,” 76. This anecdote also does not appear in the English translated version of Zheng’s article, published in Monographs of Hong Kong Film Veterans 1, 79-81. Cf., Note [9] above.

29. Niu Lang Zhi Nü (The Cowherd and the Weaver, dir. Cen Fan, 1963/64), starring Yan Fengying and Wang Shaofang of Marriage of the Fairy Princess fame, is perhaps the only exception. Made in association with PRC’s Anhui Huangmei Opera Troupe, the film is a co-production between Hai Yan Studio of Shanghai and Da Peng Studio of Hong Kong; the latter in turn an affiliate of Hong Kong’s Great Wall.

30. Fu Qi, “To Borrow a Wife:Before and After Shooting/Jie Qin Pei: Pai She Qian Hou,Wen Hui Pao (15 May 1958), 6.

31. Cf, Chen, “Musical China…,” 53

32. See, for example, film ad for “Jie Qin Pei,” Xing Dao Bao (14 May 1958), 8; and Xing Dao Bao (15 May 1958), 8. Xing Dao Bao is a Hong Kong Chinese daily. Interestingly after this production, it shifted gears and turned to Shaoxin opera films, sometimes in collaboration with mainland film producers and opera troupes.

33. See, for example, the film ad for Diao Chan, Xing Dao Pao (27 May 1958), 9. I cannot ascertain if the HK$ 1 million dollars budget was for real or exaggerated for publicity purposes, but the price tag would additionally function as a metaphorical referent for blockbusters.

34. I.C. Jarvie, Window on Hong Kong: A Sociological Study of the Hong Kong Film Industry and its Audience (Hong Kong: Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong, 1977), 8-19.

35. Yang Mei, “Last Year Mandarin Films Achieved New Records/This Year will be The Year of Period Films Again/Guoyu Pian Qunian Chuang Xin Ji Lu/Jin Nian Reng Shi Guzhuang Pian Nian,” Wen Hui Bao (26 February 1963), 11.

36. Chang Cheh (Zhang Che), Chang Cheh — Memoirs and Film Reviews/Zhang Che — Hui Yi Lu, Ying Ping Ji (Hong Kong: Hong Kong Film Archive, 2002), 112.

37. Li Yizhuang, “The One Mainland China Film That Stirred Up a 20-Year Hot Wave for Huangmei Tunes on the Hong Kong and Taiwan Screens/Yi Bu Zhong Guo Nei Di Dian Ying Xian Qi Gang Tai Ying Tan De Er Shi Nian Huang Mei Re Chao,” in Zhu Hong, ed., Shinning Together in the Same Starry Sky: Mainland China Movies in Hong Kong/Shan Yao Zai Tong Yi Xing Kong: Zhong Guo Nei Di Dian Ying Zai Xiang Gang (Hong Kong: Joint Publishing, 2005), 26.

38. Chiao, “The Female Consciousness …,” 76.

39. Li Hanxiang, From the Beginning: Thirty Years of Details /San Shi Nian Xi Shuo Cong Tou, Vol. 2 (Hong Kong: Tiandi Press, 1984), 146-49, 222. This autobiography has four volumes.

40. See, for example, the publicity shot of Siew Kuan, dubbed as the “upcoming Movie-queen of Xiamen pian” in Xing Dao Bao (12 June 1958), 9. Xiamen pian is another Chinese name for Fujianese movies, sometimes also known as Amoy or Minnanhua films.

41. See “1963 Belongs to Ling Bo!/Yi Jiu Liu San Nien Shi Ling Bo De!” (Xing Dao Pao,25 October 1963):
<> (18 July 2004).

42. This award was specially created for Ling because she was not eligible for consideration in the Best Actor or Best Actress categories. Apparently her cross-sex performance exceeded the terms specified for the two categories.

43. The serial is the first Huangmei opera TV production. It tells the story of a couple’s seven reincarnations: in each reincarnation, they are destined to meet, and every time they meet, they are also destined to part forever. The serial carries a portmanteau of seven well-known tragic folklores; one of which is based on the Liang-Zhu legend.

44. See “1963 Belongs to Ling Bo!/Yi Jiu Liu San Nien Shi Ling Bo De!” (Xing Dao Pao,25 October 1963):
<> (18 July 2004).

45. “The 15th Queer Melbourne Film Festival” <http://www.melbournequeerfilm.com.au> (19 April 2005).

46. This number includes only those which feature Ling in the lead role.

47. They are, namely, Lady General Hu Mulan(1964), The Female Prince (1964), The Dawn Will Come(1966), and The Perfumed Arrow(1966).

48. They are, namely The Love Eterne (1963), A Maid from Heaven (1963), The Crimson Palm (1964), The Mermaid (1965), The West Chamber(1965), The Mirror and the Lichee (1967), Forever and Ever (1968), Three Smiles (1969). All the above are Shaw Brothers productions, while Ling Bo’s Jin Ri produces New Dream of the Red Chamber (1977), and The Imperious Princess (1980), both directed by Jin Han. In 1982 Ling Bo made her last Huangmei opera film, namely Zhuang Yuan Mei (dir. Bao Xueli): it was produced by Taiwan’s Yu Feng Studio.

49. Tan and Aw, “Love Eterne …,” 141-42.

50. Cf., Dorothy Ko, “Lady-Scholars at the Door: The Practice of Gender Relations in Eighteenth-Century Suzhou,” in Hay, ed. Boundaries in China, 198-216.

51. Tan and Aw, “Love Eterne…,” 141-42. Cf., Keith McMahon, “The Class ‘Beauty-Scholar’ Romance and the Superiority of the Talents Woman,” in Angela Zito and Tani Barlow, eds., Body, Subject and Power in China (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994), 227-252.

52. Cf J. Wu, “The Individual in Political and Legal Traditions,” in Charles A. Moore, ed., The Chinese Mind: Essentials of Chinese Philosophy and Culture (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1968), 340-64; and Tania Barlow, “Theorizing Woman: Funü, Guojia, Jiating (Chinese Woman, Chinese State, Chinese Family),” in Angela Zito and Tania Barlow, eds., Body, Subject and Power in China (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 253-89.

53. “Forever and Ever/Jin Shi Qing”:
(18 July 2004).

54. Tan and Aw, “Love Eterne …,” 140.

55. Ibid. Cf., Judith Butler, Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (New York: Routledge, 1997), 160.

56. When a “human,” Carp Spirit takes the form of Zhang’s betrothed, Jin Mudan, as well as her name.

57. “The Mirror and the Lichee/Xin Chen San Wu Niang”:
(18 July /2004).

58. At the end of movie, Carp Spirit exchanges her supernatural power for life as a human being. She does so in order to be with her mortal lover.

59. Stephen Teo, Hong Kong Cinema: The Extra Dimensions (Hong Kong: bfi publishing, 1997), 76.

60. Lyman, “Watching Movies with Ang Lee …”; Chiao, “The Female Consciousness …,” 84.

61. Ibid., 84.

62. Ibid..

63. Ibid., 83.

64. Cited, Lyman, “Watching Movies with Ang Lee …”

65. Ibid.

66. Tan and Aw, “Love Eterne …,” 138.

67. Garth Franklin, “Interview: Ang Lee “Brokeback Mountain”(December 7, 2005)
(accessed March 1, 2007).

68. Chiao, “The Female Consciousness …,” 84.

69. Ibid., 76.

70. Ibid., 80.

71. Ibid., 77; Lyman, “Watching Movies with Ang Lee …”.

72. In English, the equivalent to this Chinese saying would be: Don’t cry over spilt milk.

73. Butler, Bodies that Matter, 239.


A Maid from Heaven (Qi Xian Nü); co-dir. He Menghua and Chen Yixin; starring Ling Bo and Fang Ying; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1963.

The Crimson Palm (Xue Shou Yin); dir. Chen Yixin; starring Ling Bo and Qin Ping; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1964.

The Dawn Will Come (Hunduan Nai He Tian); dir. Gao Li (Kao Li); starring Ling Bo, Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1966.

Diau Charn of Three Kingdoms (Diao Chan);dir. Li Hanxiang (Li Han-Hsiang); starring Zhao Lei and Lin Dai; Hong Kong, Shaw and Sons, 1958.

The Dream of the Red Chamber (Honglou Meng); dir. Yuan Qiufeng; starring Le Di and Ren Jie; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1962.

The Dream of the Red Chamber (Jinyu Lianyuan Honglou Meng); dir. Li Hanxiang; starring Brigette Lin Qingxia (Lin Chin-Hsia) and Sylvia Zhang Aijia (Sylvia Chang); Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1977.

Father, Husband, Son (Wo Fu, Wo Fu, Wo Zi); dir. Bai Jinrui, starring Ling Bo; Taiwan, Dazhong, 1973.

Forever and Ever (Jin Shi Qin); dir. Luo Wei (Loh Wei); starring Ling Bo and Lin Yu; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1968.

The Female Prince (Shuangfeng Qiyuan); dir. Zhou Shi Lu; starring Ling Bo and Li Jing; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1964.

Hung Niang (Hong Niang); dir. Li Hanxiang, featuring Ling Bo; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1961 (uncompleted).

The Imperious Princess (Jin Zhi Yü Ye); dir. Jin Han; starring Ling Bo and Jin Han; Taiwan, Jin Ri, 1980.

The Kingdom and the Beauty (Jiang Shan Mei Ren);dir. Li Hanxiang; starring Zhao Lei and Linda Lin Dai; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1959.

The Magic Lamp (Bao Lian Deng);dir. Wang Tian Lin et al.; starring Yu Min and Ge Lan (Grace Chang); Hong Kong, MP & GI, 1964.

The Magnificent Concubine (Yang Guifei); dir. Li Hanxiang; starring Li Lihua and Yan Jun, Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1961.

Marriage of the Fairy Princess (Tian Xian Pei,aka The Fairy Wife; The Heavenly Match); co-dir.Sang Hu and Shi Hui;starring Yan Fengying and Wang Shaofang; Shanghai, Shanghai Film Studio, 1955.

The Mirror and the Lichee (Xin Chensan Wuniang); dir. Gao Li, starring Ling Bo and Fang Ying; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1967.

New Dream of the Red Chamber (Xin Hongluo Meng); dir. Jin Han; starring Ling Bo and Jin Han; Taiwan, Jin Ri, 1977.

Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai (Liang Shanbo Yu Zhu Yingtai);co-dir. Sang Hu and Huang Sha; starring Yuan Xuefen and Fan Ruijuan; Shanghai, Shanghai Film Studio, 1954.

Lady General Hua Mulan (Hua Mulan); dir. Yue Feng; starring Ling Bo and Jin Han; Hong Kong,Shaw Brothers, 1964.

Lady Jade Locket (Lian Suo); dir. Yan Jun; starring Li Lihua and Li Jing; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1966.

The Lotus Lamp (Bao Lian Deng); dir. Yue Feng; starring Lin Dai and Zheng Peipei; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers,1965.

The Love Eterne (Liang Shanbo Yu Zhu Yingtai); dir. Li Hanxiang; starring Ivy Ling Bo and Le Di; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1963.

The Mermaid (Yu Mei Ren); dir. Gao Li, starring Ling Bo and Li Jing; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1965.

The Perfumed Arrow (Nü Xiu Cai); dir. Gao Li, tarring Ling Bo and Jin Feng; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1966.

Rice Rhapsody (Hainan Ji Fan); dir. Kenneth Bi, starring Sylvia Zhang Aijia, Hong Kong, Kenbiroli Films, 2004.

The Scholar-Magistrate Matchmaker (Zhuang Yuan Mei); dir. Bao Xueli; starring Ling Bo; Taiwan, Yu Feng Studio, 1982.

The Seven Lives of a Husband and Wife (Qi Shi Fu Qi: 91-part TV Serial; Taiwan: Central Television System (CTS), 1972.

The Tragic Story Of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai (Liang Zhu Hen Shi); dir. Li Tie; starring Yam Kim-Fei (Ren Jianhui) and Fen Yanfang, Hong Kong, Shi Li, 1958.

Three Smiles (San Xiao); dir. Yue Feng; starring Ling Bo and Li Jing; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1969.

To Borrow a Wife (Jie Qin Pei); dir. Huang Yu; starring Shi Hui and Fu Qi; Hong Kong, Great Wall, 1958.

Too Late For Love(Feng Huo Wan Li Qing; dir. Lo Chen, starring Ling Bo and Guang Shan; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1966.

The West Chamber(Xi Xiang Ji); dir. Yue Feng; starring Ling Bo, Li Jing and Fang Ying; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1965.

Wife-napping (Hua Tian Cuo); dir. Yan Jun, starring Ding Ning and Qiao Zhuang; Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers, 1962.

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