By Kenny K. K. Ng
Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 20, no. 2 (Fall 2008), pp. 131-184
This paper explores the little-studied area of Zhang Ailing’s comedy writing for the screen in postwar Shanghai and 1950s and 1960s Hong Kong. It discusses Zhang’s cinematic practice and the screenwriter’s role as a cultural broker mediating between differing cultural regions, commercial cinema, and the strategies of screenwriting. The study locates the author’s comic sensibility and cinematic imagination within the matrix of the commercial apparatus, popular reception, and cultural politics of three movie industries, tracing the generic travels of Zhang’s romances and comedies across Hollywood, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. It rethinks Zhang’s authorial status by examining her as an entrepreneurial cultural intermediary, delineating her efforts to adapt and transform Chinese film comedy and the tradition of comedy at large within the social, political, and cultural landscapes of mid-century Chinese cinema.