Discover your future in China,
where education knows no bounds.

Street Angel马路天使 ~ Chinese Movies&TV

Street Angel ( 马路天使; Mǎlù tiānshǐ) is a Chinese film released in 1937. The film was directed by Yuan Muzhi and stars the popular singer Zhou Xuan. This dark comedy—a still hilarious and irresistible love story—may not seem like a milestone, but “Street Angel” (《马路天使》 Mǎlù Tiānshǐ) was the first Chinese movie not about high society. For the first time, it gave voice to Shanghai’s laboring classes. It was produced in 1937, and tells the story of a pair of sisters, Little Yun and Little Hong, refugees from the Japanese invasion of Northern China, who’ve migrated to Shanghai to start life anew.

The city doesn’t greet them well. To pay the rent, the older sister is forced into a life of prostitution. The younger sister, being groomed for the streets, reluctantly sings in a low-brow teahouse to the snickers of drunken, lecherous customers. We know—it doesn’t sound like much of a comedy.

Through indomitable optimism and can-do spirit, they befriend a motley crew of misfits and social dregs—Little Chen the trumpeter, Old Wang the newspaper hawker, a street peddler, a barber and a dwarf—and strive together to fight for a better tomorrow. ?Shanghai, the city, swings along to the beat of trumpet blasts and newspaper delivery boys. The film opens with a dazzling barrage of shots of nightclubs and parties, but it’s the everyday things—the street merchants, the dangling birdcages, the kindhearted beggars, and the marketplaces filled with old men brushing their teeth—that bring the city, and movie, to life. Tying it all together are bouts of odd, slapstick comedy.

(During the depression, the barber’s shop is on the verge of being shut down. Little Chen and his friends trumpet and drum to attract clients.)

Kuài jìnlái a, zhèlǐ dà jiǎn jià! Tì liǎng gètóu, sòng yīgè tóu!
Barbers: Hey! Two heads shaved for the price of one!
Tì liǎng gè dàtóu, sòng yīgè xiǎo tóu!
Shave a big head, get a small one free!
(The only audience they attract are bald monks. They grow sullen, and people laugh.)

Ràng kāi, ràng kāi.
Landlord: Let me through. Let me through.
Yīgè yǒu máo de lái le!
Barbers: Here’s one with hair!
(Barbers grab him)

Lǐbian zuò, lǐbian zuò! Hěn piányi de.
Come on inside! Sit down! It’s very inexpensive.
Wǒ bùshì lái xǐ tóu de! Wǒ shì lái zhǎo nǐmen lǎobǎn de, wǒ bùshì lái tìtóu de!
Landlord (struggling to break free) : I’m not here to wash my hair! I came to see your boss, not get my head shaved!
Dà jiǎn jià, hěn piányi de!
Barbers (forcing the landlord into the chair): Big sale, very inexpensive!
Bùyào xiǎng, zhèlǐ dà jiǎn jià, hěn piányi de.
不要想, 这里大减价,很便宜的。
(Holding his head down and brushing soap onto his beard): Don’t worry. Big sale today. It’s very cheap.)
Landlord (struggling to open his mouth): Mongrels!
Hěn kuài de!
Barbers: You’ll be done soon!
Tāmen tìtóu de yàngzi hǎoxiàng shā zhū a.
Little Chen: The way they shave people is just like slaying a pig.

Most of the film takes place in the working class alleyways, the longtang and shikumen of Shanghai, but the characters do escape momentarily—from poverty into the modern skyscrapers of tomorrow. They find themselves in a lawyer’s office, where the clicking mahjong tiles have been replaced by clacking typewriters. They’re confounded by bizarre, modern inventions like water dispensers, paper cups and radiators, and bumble through this unfamiliar world as M. Hulot would.

Qiáo, wǒmen yǐjīng zhàn zài yúntóu li le!
Little Zhao: Look, we’re already standing above the clouds!
Zhè zhēnshi tiāntáng a!
Old Wang: This is really paradise.
Zhēnshi a!
Little Zhao: That’s for sure.
(They lean against a radiator)

Tiāntáng bǐ wǒmen jiālǐ rè ma?
Paradise seems hotter than our flat.
Old Wang: Warm alright!
But it’s down in the longtang that this movie literally sings. Zhou Xuan’s teahouse oldies, and her duets performed across the alleyways with her secret lover, brought audiences flooding back for more, and made the songs from “Street Angel” unforgettable anthems.

Jiāshān ya běi wàng
Toward the mountains of home, oh, I gaze to the north
Lèi ya lèi zhān jīn
Tears, oh, tears wet my robe sleeves
Xiǎo mèimei xiǎng láng zhídào jīn
I miss my lover all the time
Láng ya huànnàn zhī jiāo ēnài shēn
We met in hard times, and our bond is deep.

Seventy years later, this same ballad reappears in Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution,” as teary-eyed Tang Wei sings to Tony Leung Chiu in occupied Shanghai. In both films, it’s a love song, and in both films, it has patriotic passion. Our country may be broken apart, the song seems to say, but it’s only temporary—it still shares one heart.

And it was the patriotism—as well as the audience’s sympathy with the familiar working class battles—that turned this film into such a hit. Some have likened the movie to a cocktail of Frank Capra and Sergei Eisenstein, but for us, it remains a classic of old Shanghai. It’s a gorgeous view into the Paris of the East, on the precipice of great change.


Zěnme yàng, fáng qián shōu le méiyǒu?
Landlord: Did you get their rent?



Nuo, shōu le yīkuài yángqián.
Landlady: Yeah, he gave me one dollar.



Yángqián? Shǎguā! Bǎ yángqián ná lái gànshénme?
Landlord: What did take his dollar for? Idiot!



Yángqián xiànzài bù hǎo yòng le!
Don’t you know that foreign dollars aren’t any good anymore?


For more glimpses of Shanghai through the ages, don’t miss some of the other great films shot here:

“Everlasting Regret” (《长恨歌》 Ch1ng H-n G8), directed by Stanley Kwan, is filled with sumptuous soft-focus art-deco interiors, and tells the story of a changing city and a love affair that keeps failing to happen, between the ’30s and the ’80s.

“Lust, Caution” (《色戒》 S- Ji-) stretches Zhang Ailing’s extremely short story into a gorgeous two and a half hours, and Ang Lee successfully captures the beauty and life of Shanghai, even in a dark and painful period.

“Leaving Me, Loving You” (《大城小事》 D3ch9ng Xi2osh#)) won’t be the most accessible film for foreigners, but this romantic comedy is a travel guide to Shanghai’s hotspots. From the Bund to Waibaidu Bridge, every tourist destination plays a role. It’s not Woody Allen’s “Manhattan,” but is still an ode to a complex, storied city.

Key words
格格不入的人gégébùrù de rén:misfits

1. Nǐ xǐhuān xǐjùpiàn háishì kǒngbùpiàn?
Do you prefer comedy or horror films?

2. Qíshí, wǒ xǐhuān nàojù.
Oh, actually I’m a fan of slapstick comedy.

未经允许不得转载:STUDY IN CHINA GLOBAL (SCG) » Street Angel马路天使 ~ Chinese Movies&TV
分享到: 更多 (0)

评论 抢沙发

  • 昵称 (必填)
  • 邮箱 (必填)
  • 网址

"Acquire Global Skills with a Degree from China."