Grace Chang
October 21, 2008 8:44 AM   Subscribe

In the 1960s and 1970s Hong Kong had a thriving film industry, dominated by studios such as Cathay Studios. One of Cathay's most fabulous stars was Grace Chang (Ge Lan), referred to by some as the Marlene Dietrich of Hong Kong Chinese cinema. Her greatest hit was The Wild Wild Rose (Ye mei gui zhi lian), based on Bizet's Carmen. The showstopper is her version of Habanera (YT).

Another popular film is Mambo Girl.
Grace Change home page (in Chinese).
More numbers on YouTube (descriptions sometimes uncertain due to my lack of Chinese):
Wild Wild Rose (?)
Mambo Girl
Jajambo (song and dance version)
Flying Car Song
More YT clips of Hong Kong in the 50s and 60s
I discovered this music after watching some Wong Kar Wai films a while back.
posted by carter (16 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Thread needs more Theresa Teng.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:52 AM on October 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

More Theresa

I got hooked on her as a consequence of watching Comrades: Almost a love story, which might be my favourite of all HK movies, and is almost an homage to Theresa.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:57 AM on October 21, 2008

This is good. (Also, Goodbye My Love is my favourite song by Theresa Teng. Faye Wong did a cover of songs by her which is also wicked awesome.)
posted by chunking express at 9:06 AM on October 21, 2008


(taking Mandarin 1 now -- I think self-study will be easier than Japanese since the subtitling really helps in understanding - - after 4 weeks I understand maybe 5%, not bad!)
posted by troy at 9:06 AM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

What a great post. That Habanera sizzled. Such an interesting culture combo, sexy Spanish song sung in Mandarin. *going off to explore the links of your More Inside.
posted by nickyskye at 9:07 AM on October 21, 2008

Thanks, Peter! Yao Lee, from Shanghai, 1940s-1960s, is another favourite of mine. There's some of her music on YouTube if you search for "yao lee," mainly cd rips set over images of her record covers.
posted by carter at 9:10 AM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Why is she singing in Manderan, rather then Cantonese?
posted by delmoi at 10:20 AM on October 21, 2008

^ plenty of Chinese nationalists fled to HK after Mao took over, and Mandarin is the language of the Guómíndǎng. From Grace Chang's bio:

"Born in Shanghai, Chang moved with her family to Hong Kong in 1948."
posted by troy at 10:34 AM on October 21, 2008

Why is she singing in Manderan, rather then Cantonese?

A surprising amount of cinema from Hong Kong and Taiwan in the 60's and 70's has people speaking in Mandarin. Not sure whether this is because the actors and actresses were recent immigrants, or because of a reluctance to ignore the massive potential market on the mainland.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:39 AM on October 21, 2008

Taiwan market too I would guess, PeterMcD. Being born in Shanghai necessarily doesn't imply Mandarin native speaker as they have their own dialect, but not a milieu or era I know much about other than enjoying the songs.
posted by Abiezer at 10:51 AM on October 21, 2008

Great post, carter! Thanks!
posted by vacapinta at 1:29 PM on October 21, 2008

Thanks, this is right out of the park.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:29 PM on October 21, 2008

Carter, next round is on me. Splendid internetation you you did there.
posted by gmm at 1:48 PM on October 21, 2008

Thanks for the Yao Lee links too Carter. Great stuff.
posted by vronsky at 6:24 PM on October 21, 2008

It's really peculiar how popular her song Mei Gui Mei Gui Wo Ai Ni is with Chinese line dancers.

There's something really strange about lots of these old Chinese torch songs. Somehow, they seem to have seeped into my unconscious without my knowing it. I feel as though I've known that song since I was a kid.

I said earlier that it was Comrades: Almost a love story that turned me on to Theresa Teng, but it didn't happen when I first watched it. It was a couple of years later, and I was watching Nick Broomfield's film, Ghosts, a docu-drama about the death of the Chinese cockle pickers on Morecambe Bay a few years ago when I caught myself singing along with the songs that the Chinese immigrants are singing in the film. As I tried to figure out where I knew them from, Comrades was the first place I was able to locate it but I've got a strong sense that I already knew some of them when I first watched that.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:34 PM on October 21, 2008

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