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 (in reduced scale) by the HK and Shanghai Hotels group (owned by the Kadoorie family) 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. Unfortunately I neglected to take a comparison shot for the garage, but suffice to say it has been demolished and I think the steps at the back in my modern shot are a good indicator of where the back of the garage used to be.

Picture three 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.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Long Ke Wan, Sai Kung

Here's one for all those of you who think that HK is nothing but high rises and congested roads (although granted, that is what most people see when they come). The following sandy bay is the location where an errant Sumuru follower is executed after making the fatal mistake of falling for a man. Three bikini clad assassins are sent to "Italy" to do the job and this is where it goes down...supposedly on a secluded Italian beach.

In reality this isn't Italy but Sai Kung. Long Ke Wan to be precise. One of the many beach bays on the east coast of Sai Kung. As you can see it was absolutely beautiful back in 1967  - it still is actually, unless you get there on the weekend to witness the drunken hordes on their junk trips littering the place up.

Anyway, please feel free to revel in a time before hideous drunken hordes descended upon the place en masse.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Sharp Island, Port Shelter

In the film, the main baddie is the eponymous Sumuru who lives on an island in Hong Kong somewhere. Where that island is supposed to be is not sure but in reality all of the shots we see when various people are getting on and off boats at a concrete jetty, we are looking at the jetty that was (and looks like it still is) located at the northern end of Kiu Tsui Chau aka Sharp Island, next to Kiu Tsui beach.

The top picture is looking roughly north from Sharp Island with Pak Sha Chau behind the boat and the landscape behind is where Sai Sha Road comes into Sai Kung from the north.

The following shot shows the same place but this time looking more east as the person walks up the ramp. The hills in the background are part of the islands northern coast.

The following two shots are looking the other way from the west up to the north and the second picture clearly shows the recognisable ridgeline that sits above Sai Kung town centre at the right of the picture with Pyramid Hill on the right of the girls shoulder.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Shaw's Movietown, Clearwater Bay

After having a bit of a disaster with regards to my PC recently (the hard drive failed and I lost a whole bunch of stuff I hadn't backed up including various screen grabs I had recently done for other films) I figured it would be a good time to start on a film recommended to me by Flip Jansen. Flip had been kind enough to contact me and mentioned this film, Sumuru. So many thanks to Flip and please check out his rather impressive and useful blog on film concerts here:

Anyway, here we are with another 1967 picture produced by Harry Alan Towers. Harry was also responsible for Five Golden Dragons (and The Vengeance of Fu Man Chu which is one of the films I will have to do go through again after my PC crash) which also happened to start his wife Maria Rohm who also happened to be in the Fu Manchu film. So you can see a pattern forming. It looks like 1967 was Harry's year for getting films made in Hong Kong with the help of Shaws. There's another link to Five Golden Dragons that I'll point out later and according to Flip's comment it looks as though these films were filmed one after the other from the end of '66 into '67.

Anyway, speaking of Shaws as we just were, the opening scenes of Sumuru were most definitely filmed on the Chinese town lot at the Movietown studios. Shaw Bros fans will certainly recognise the small stone bridge that can be seen in the last screen grab. 

This wasn't the only scene filmed at Shaw's and a later post has some scenes filmed outside the famous and iconic Shaw House.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cracker: White Ghost - Robbie Coltrane (1996) - Various aerial shots around Hong Kong

Finishing up Cracker: White Ghost for the time being (at least while I still grapple with some of the harder to identify locations) with this small post showing some of the location seen from the vantage point of the helicopter whilst it's trying to follow the killer.

The first shot is an aerial view of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department HQ. At least that is the building's use now, but considering that the FEHD didn't exist in 1996 - it was created when the Urban Council was disbanded (it was the first volley in the HK Govt's war on democracy) and the councils former responsibilities were split between the FEHD and the LCSD (Leisure and Cultural Services Dept) - I am not sure what it was before hand. I'm sure some of the longer-term HK residents can provide that information. It's the low-rise building on the right. The buildings next to it are (from r to l) the Victoria Centre and the Sea View Estate.

A little further along the Hong Kong Island coastline provides us with our next bird's eye view over Quarry Bay and the two shiny buildings we can see centre screen are two of the office towers of Cityplaza in Tai Koo Shing.

We move back a bit now and over to the HK-side entrance to the Eastern Harbour Tunnel as Dennis' car heads over to Kowloon side. The shot is in B&W because we are supposedly viewing it through the camera on the chopper.

We move over to Kowloon side now and can see a rather difficult to identify junction, however as the camera pans right, following one of the taxis, it becomes obvious that we are looking at the major junction where Austin Road intersects with Chatham Road South. The giveaway is a brief view of the curved staircase outside of St Mary's Canossian College along Austin Road.

And finally we finish with a quick view over Container Terminal's 8 and 7 as the helicopter hovers above the area around Stonecutters Island. Actually, the angle here is quite low as you can see from the distant hillside buildings (in the northern Lai Chi Kok/southern Kwai Chung area) and it wouldn't surprise me to find out the camera crew had simply driven over to Stonecutters (because by then it had joined the Kowloon peninsula) and plonked the camera on one of its small hillocks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cracker: White Ghost - Robbie Coltrane (1996) - Fat Kwong Street Flyover, Hung Hom

Although they let Dennis out so they can follow him, they lose him when he crosses over to Kowloon. The cop car stops along the Fat Kwong St flyover where it crosses the eastern Kowloon Corridor whilst they wait for the helicopter crew to pick up the scent again.

As you can see from Streetview below the area hasn't changed much at all but in the lowest picture above, it looks like there may have once been a structure in Fat Kwong Street Garden (top left of the picture), either that or the camera angle is making the buildings on the other side of the garden seem much closer than they are (it's certainly possible).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Cracker: White Ghost - Robbie Coltrane (1996) - Gloucester Road Footbridge, Wanchai

Anyone who has spent a long enough time in HK (i.e. had to apply for a visa and/or ID card) will probably have made the walk across this next location. It's the pedestrian footbridge that connects Wanchai MTR/O'Brien Road with Immigration Tower on Gloucester Road. Our friend Dennis Philby heads over there to try and convince the Immigration officer that he has legitimately married his girlfriend and wants a passport for her.