Monday, October 20, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Percival Street, Causeway Bay

Yellow is the colour of the moment it seems, so it seems only fitting that this post from Yellowthread Street (episode: Rummy's Cut), should also feature something else this case a tram.

The scene has no real significance to the plot, but I guess when you spend all that money filming in Hong Kong you may as well showcase some of the sights and sounds. So, here we have a nice yellow tram making the turn from Hennessy Road into Percival Street in Causeway Bay (strictly speaking still part of Wanchai District).

 Other than the addition of a pedestrian walkway - because, after all, why should cars be inconvenienced to stop for crossing pedestrians, right? - and the removal of many overhanging signs, the place hasn't changed much physically. Percival Street is still the turnoff/on for trams heading into and away from Happy Valley, but if you were to take a look at shop rents in this area over the past few years you'll find it has become one of the most expensive streets in HK with some utterly crazy prices being paid for prime retail space. Anyway, below is the current Streetview.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

The last part of the film sees our trusty but rusty ferry, the "Fa Tsan", finally succumb to its explosion, typhoon and pirate damage and sink beneath the waves of Hong Kong's famous harbour. Except, for the purpose of the film there was a little bit of 1950's camera trickery going on and it looks as though the footage of the sinking was actually superimposed onto a background of HK Island.

I guess you need to see it really, but the affect isn't too bad considering it was 1959, but the colours don't quite match between the foreground and background.

However, this did get me wondering because several months ago on a Facebook group page, someone who grew up in Hong Kong remembers seeing an old boat being towed into Kowloon Bay near Kai Tak Airport and being sunk for a film. Lots of suggestions were made, including The Sand Pebbles, but I'm not sure The Sand Pebbles filmed around that area (it was mainly in Port Shelter), so I wonder if this was the scene they were watching - the boat sinking in Kai Tak later being superimposed onto the footage from the harbour?

The ridgeline in the background appears to be the western end of HK Island with Victoria Peak and High West in left and centre, but the angle suggests a location at the western end of the harbour (perhaps a camera sited on Stonecutter Island?) but there were obvious impracticalities to sinking a boat in the middle of the harbour.

Well, if anyone has any clues please feel free to share, in the meantime I'll update this post if I find out anything more.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Aberdeen, Hong Kong

More Aberdeen Harbour, this time from episode 7 - Rummy's Cut. Actually, this time we go down to the Sham Wan area of the harbour in the eastern portion next to the floating restaurant pontoons and the Aberdeen Marina Club.

The first shot above shows us looking from Sham Wan towards the west with the bridge joining Hong Kong to Ap Lei Chau (the Ap Lei Chau Bridge). All the high rises we can see are on Ap Lei Chau.

The area around the Sham Wan containing all the private slipways. The low section of the AMC can be seen back left and the skinny building on the right is in fact the Marine Police Aberdeen Base.

The final picture shows the AMC and if you look carefully you can see one of the floating restaurants rather ornate pontoons just to the left.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Wanchai Aerial View, Hong Kong

Another excellent identification by Arthur, who has told me this is an aerial view of the streets and buildings surrounding Queen's Road East in Wanchai. Here's what it looks like in a shot from the first episode - Power Play.

So, Queen's Road East is the main road that we can see running from centre left to lower right. The prominent brown coloured building is the - only in Hong Kong - "Greatmany Centre", and as Arthur mentioned in his comment the smaller building to it's right is the low rise building of 117 Queen's Rd East on the corner of Ship Street.

Many of the low rise buildings in this area have been replaced and more upheaval has been ongoing for the past few years as Hopewell Holdings flattens the area around Ship Street to make way for its new so-called Megatower project.

Anyway, here is Arthur's comment as he includes a bit more detail:
For the...aerial photo, my guess is the crossroad in the lower center of the pic is Queen's Road East x Ship St. The twin brown buildings and apartment building with 4 windows in a row to its right are still there.

For the crossroad at the top right corner, it is probably Johnston Road x Lugard Road (google map: 22.276470, 114.171511) You can compare the interestingly oriented facade of the build where the Boston Restaurant now is in both pics.

Another possible evidences are those buildings with large roofs - may be able to match the movie theaters once dotted this area of Wanchai.

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - More adventures with Chaplin Chang

Chaplin Chang, assistant director on Enter the Dragon and general go-to man for many western production companies filming in Hong Kong, made an early appearance in his very diverse movie career as an extra when filming Ferry to Hong Kong.

There is a scene in Ferry to Hong Kong when a Chinese junk catches fire nearby and proceeds to explode because it has been packed with explosives. The explosion damages the ferry but the crew of the junk are saved just before it blows up.

Chaplin, being one of the only English-speaking Chinese extras on set, was given a small speaking part as the passenger who rushes to the side of the ferry and shouting "the junk is on fire!".

Here is the junk on fire.

and here is Chaplin rushing over and pointing at it.

More adventures with Chaplin coming soon :-)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - Junk Island (Fat Tong Chau), Tsueng Kwan O

Here is a real piece of forgotten history that took me a while to figure out. There is a sequence in the film when the ferry, after suffering a severe amount of damage in a typhoon, is struggling in to shore when a boat load of pirates - led by a very young Roy Chiao - come aboard to rob and pillage.

As the boat is nearing the coastline we get a nice view of what looks to be an uninhabited island in the background.

Now, believe it or not but the strip of land in the background isn't actually an island at all, but is in fact the Lei Yue Mun headland, and the bumpy bit just behind the boats sail is Devil's Peak!

Here is a modern day comparison of that ridgeline so you can see for yourself.

What you need to bear in mind here is that this area of Hong Kong has seen a vast amount of change with a huge amount of reclamation. I believe in the first shot we can see Junk Island (aka Fat Tong Chau) which has since been joined to the mainland (in this case with the Clearwater Bay peninsula) by reclamation, much in the same way that Stonecutter Island has been 'attached' to West Kowloon.

The shoreline we see above, in the fourth picture, was most likely part of the old coastline before reclamation took it away and replaced it with the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate.

I think the above picture is quite good because we can actually see Junk Island on the right, behind the boat. I found a reasonably similar modern-day angle on Panoramio showing the same sloped hillside in the background. The picture comes courtesy of Baycrest. I shows just how much of the water has been reclaimed for the estate.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Kennedy Road, Central

In addition to the excellent bit of spotting Arthur did for us on this previous Kennedy Road post, he has also pulled out all the stops to identify a very obscure (to me, at least) piece of the same road that actually features a few seconds after the sequence from the previous post - another case of geography being manipulated in the film world.

Anyway, the location is just down from the...wait for it...Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Yes, that is the full name for the administration offices that now sit at 42 Kennedy Road - a site previously inhabited by a Govt quarters building called The Hermitage (though it had the address: 75 MacDonnell Road).

Anyway, the lens on the film camera makes the steps appear much closer than they are, so even though the following Streetview was taken closer to them, they actually appear much further away.

Once again, many thanks to Arthur for his help.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan

Episode 7 of Yellowthread Street is called Rummy's Cut and starts off with what is supposed to be a gold/jewellery heist but turns out to be a set up. So we have some nice shots of the area on Bonham Strand where Mercer and Hillier Street join on to it. In fact the camera gives us a look right up Mercer Street.

Here's a comparison, well, as close as I could get from the confines of my nice comfortable chair.

Actually, I initially thought that perhaps the building on the corner (left of screen) was the same one, but I think that it has been replaced by a newer one that had no choice but occupy the same odd footprint - either that or a major remodeling of the windows has gone on.

Next the camera sweep left so we get a view up Bonham Strand.

Okay, so there has been a lot of redevelopment here. It looks like all the stuff on the right hand side has been redeveloped, and of course in the far distance we can see that we once had an unobstructed view of the Wing Hang Bank Building (located at 161-169 Queen's Road Central), but it is funny to see that the HSBC is still there - albeit with the subsequent rename (from Hongkong Bank to HSBC) and repainting of the building.

Lastly the camera settles on its intended subject - a jewelers close to the junction with Hillier Street.

Now, the Streetview version gives a view from further away, but I can tell you that the buildings in the top picture has been replaced by a single block called the Teda Building, with its entrance around the corner on Hillier Street. However, there are some relics left over (which helped me locate this) and that includes the Kung Kai Hung shop (off screen on the right in the screen cap and behind the taxi, centre picture, in the bottom streetview picture).

Also, look carefully at the top screen cap and you can see an establishment at the back (on Hillier Street) with the words "Cheong Gold" - the rest of the name being obscured. Well, actually this business is still there and its called Lee Cheong Gold Dealers Limited in the same building (Hillier Commercial Building).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - St Paul's Church Facade, Macau

Macau's most famous landmark features in the next part of the funeral procession as they pass the facade of the fire-destroyed church of St Paul's.

If you have ever been to Macau then you will most probably have seen this close up. All I can say about it is that the steps in front tend to be chock-full of Mainland Tourists these days (Chow Tai Fook are really missing a trick here).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - Penha Church, Macau

Well, seeing as I have just been theorising about the use of the Penha Church roof as a possible location for a camera shot of the inner harbour, I think the view of the same church in a later scene may lend some credibility to my theory. (NB: this later scene was preceded by a single shot from the earlier sequence where we can see the cross again).

Anyway, here is a brief glimpse of the side of the church as a funeral procession makes its way down the hill from the church towards the ferry. So, first off we have a repeat of the same angle from earlier (probably Penha Church cross n the right).

The next shot sees our funeral procession walking down a hill. I will make an educated guess here and say that it was probably the path that runs down the side of the hill next to the Penha Church.

I make the previous assumption (despite me knowing how geography is often messed around with in films) because the same scene shows us looking up the hill with a piece of the Church visible in the background.

Anyway, there is still a small road that runs down the side of the hill and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that it was the same one - albeit now with a rather more obscured view - or at least a path than ran just next to the current road (I say that because there is a retaining wall on the film grab that looks similar in design to the wall we see on the side of the road in the streetview picture below). The road runs up to the car park below the church which can be seen in the lower picture. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - Macau Peninsula, Macau

One of my favourite shots from the various Macau portions of the film (remember, it may be called Ferry to Hong Kong, but the film revolves around a man stuck on a HK - Macau Ferry, so we also see some of the latter) is the following panning shot that takes in a view of the inner harbour.

This view shows the panorama of Macau that I really wish I had been around to see. So sleepy and low rise - vastly different to the place today with its monstrous tacky casinos.

Anyway, the vista looks as though it may possibly have been filmed from the back of Penha Church - the cross in the top picture looks very similar to one of those that sits at the rear (west facing) part of the church building. The ferry is steaming along towards the inner harbour area for its stop.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - Round Island nr Repulse Bay, Hong Kong

In a linking shot that supposedly portrays the ferry (named the Fa Tsan in the film) as it paddles its way into Macau, we see a quick glimpse of Round Island (Chinese: 銀洲) that looks to have been taken from the Repulse Bay Road - from the angle I would estimate somewhere near to the where it gets joined by Belleview Drive. I'm not familiar with the 1959 version of the road so have no idea if there were lookouyt spots around there. I suspect there was though.

In fact, that may possibly be part of the road we can see on the right hand side. Either that or a pathway or terraced garden. Either way, we can see Round Island on the left behind the tree (look closely and you can also just see the tip of Tau Chau sticking into the edge of the screen), the headland that disappears into the distance is in fact the south eastern coast of Lamma Island and the closer, green hillside behind the road (or whatever it is) is in fact the side of Middle Island.

Unfortunately for me there are no great comparisons to be found using GoogleEarth because much of the roadside is now covered in trees (which is a good thing) obscuring the view out to sea. But below I have included a Streetview picture taken from the much lower Seaview Promenade. You don't get quite the same awesome angle, but at least to get to see the bit I am writing about.

And, of course, clear days like the one we see on the film only really happen in the summertime, so I guess the Streetview was a wintertime affair.