The Orphan

The Orphan

Dir: Lee Sun-fung
Orig Story: Auyeung Tin
Scr/Prod: Ng Cho-fan
Prod Co: Hwa Lien
Cast: Ng Cho-fan, Bruce Lee, Pak Yin, Fung Fung, Lee Yuet-ching
1960 | Colour | DCP | Cantonese | Chi & Eng Subtitles | 107min

This film was acquired overseas in 1992.

The film's discovery is among the most unexpected of our treasure-hunt stories. It was found before the Archive even had a temporary office, when Dennis Tong, the then manager, was in the UK researching how to set up film archives. It so happened that Rank Film Laboratories had in its storage facilities for the negatives of some Chinese-language films and asked Tong to take a look. He immediately recognised the importance of those films, one of them is The Orphan. Tong then arranged delivery of the precious negatives left overseas back to Hong Kong. Many film companies of the 1950s and 1960s developed their films in the UK, taking only the finished copies but leaving behind the negatives due to a lack of storage space.

The entire film was shot on Eastman colour stock, and shipped to Rank Film Laboratories in the UK for development and printing. This colour version took over 30 years to return to Hong Kong. Ng Cho-fan was heavily inspired by American film Men of Boys Town (1941) to make a film with educational significance. He wrote and produced the film, and acted in the role of the head of the orphanage (in a role similar to Spencer Tracy's Father Flanagan). Sam, his estranged son (Bruce Lee), also showed some of the rebelliousness and cocky swagger displayed by Mickey Rooney. This film had an enormous budget. Ng Cho-fan admitted that ‘this film was made in the spirit of martyrdom. Success and failure is not an issue.' Bruce Lee's performance was multi-faceted and ever-changing. It was the piece de resistance of his pre-US career, to be passed down to future generations.

Date Time Venue
5/6/2021 (Sat) 12:00pm Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive

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