Street Angel

Translated by Andrew F. Jones

MCLC Resource Center Publication (2000)

Shanghai, 1937 title

Mingxing (Star) Film Company
Written and Directed: Yuan Muzhi
Music: He Luting
Translated by Andrew F. Jones


Main Characters


Xiao Hong (played by Zhou Xuan): a singsong girl who has been sold into bondage to a musician and his gambling wife in Shanghai after fleeing her native Manchuria following the Japanese invasion.


Xiao Yun (played by Zhao Huishen): Xiao Hong’s older sister, who has been forced to become a street walker by the same couple who own Xiao Hong.


Chen Shaoping (played by Zhao Dan): A poverty-stricken trumpet player who lives across the alley. Xiao Hong’s boyfriend. Chen’s male friends, with whom he has sworn a pact of brotherhood, include a motley cast of working-class characters, including a barber, a fruit seller and a man with a speech impediment who is unemployed.


Wang, the Newspaper Seller (played by Wei Heling): Chen’s best friend, who is partial to Xiao Yun and has a penchant for newspaper clippings.


CREDITS and MONTAGE SEQUENCE of modern Shanghai.


Star Film Company presents…


Directed by Yuan Muzhi

[Camera pans down the side of skyscraper]

TITLE: Autumn 1935. In the world of Shanghai’s underclass.


[Marriage procession down a narrow Shanghai street, “Peaceful Lane.” Chen Shaoping: plays trumpet. As the parade goes on, he is greeted by Wang the newspaper vendor, and Xiao Hong, a sing-song girl standing on the balcony of a wine house]


Musician Wang [from inside]: Xiao Hong, come here! Where have you been? Such a big girl, and still so wild! [To customers] What should she sing?

Customers: Sing whatever you like.

Wang: How about the “Song of the Seasons”?

Customers: Fine, fine, whatever.
[Xiao Hong performs;

Spring comes, and the window fills with green
A maiden sits by the window embroidering a pair of mandarin ducks
Suddenly, a heartless blow
Splits the ducks in two

Summer comes and the willow fronds grow long
The maiden has been blown south of the river
The scenery’s lovely all over the land
But how can it compare to the green gauzy sorghum at home?

Autumn comes and the lotus flowers are sweet
The maiden dreams of home night after night
When she wakes up she doesn’t see the faces of her mom and dad
Just the moonlight shining at the foot of the bed

Winter comes and snow flurries down
When winter clothes are ready I’ll send them to my man
The great wall built of blood and flesh is long
Would that I could be the ancient Meng Jiang

Gu Chenglong [one of the customers, a local gangster]: This girl sings pretty well.

Old Chen [one of the customers]: You really like her?

Gu Chenglong: Sure do.

Old Chen: I know the musician…Old Wang!

Old Wang: Oh! Old Chen. When did you get here?

Old Chen: Please sit down. Let me introduce you to Mr. Gu. You know, the Mr. Gu.

Old Wang: Oh! The Mr. Gu. I’ve been wanting to meet Mr. Gu for a long time.

Old Chen: Mr. Gu likes your sing-song girl.

Old Wang: Oh, really? I’ll call her over here. Xiao Hong, come here! Say hello to Mr. Gu.

Xiao Hong: Mr. Gu.

Mr. Gu: Not bad!


[In a barber shop]

Wang the Newspaper Man: Nice smell, nice smell.

Chen Shaoping: Hey boss, how’s business?

Barber shop boss: Just so-so.

Chen Shaoping: OK, OK, enough shaving heads already. Let’s go to my place and have some fun.

Barber: That’s right. [to apprentice] I’m going out for a while. Do a good. careful job on him. You don’t want to mess up his whole head.

online-series-angel-taiping[Chen assembles his ‘troops’ the barber, the newspaper seller, the mute unemployed man and a young fruit seller with his bugle and drum. They ‘march’ back under the arch marked “Peaceful Lane”]

[Xiao Hong hears Chen Shaoping:’s trumpet from across the lane]

[Chen runs into the Landlady and her baby in the stairwell]

Landlady: Monster! You scared him!

Chen: Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid.

Landlady: The little darling heard your trumpet from far off in the distance so he knew you were on your way home.

Chen: Oh? What a good baby!

Landlady: [to baby]: Are Uncle’s Chen’s foreign clothes nice-looking?

Chen [to baby]: Ugly aren’t they?

Landlady: Does Uncle Chen look like a foreign soldier?

Chen: What do you think, baby? I’ll do some military drills for you to see, OK? Just watch me! A one and a two and a one and a two. [Chen escapes upstairs].

Landlady: Halt! Little darling, let Uncle Chen hold you.

Chen: I won’t hold him! I won’t. Let me kiss him instead.

Landlady: Don’t let him kiss you. Don’t let him do it. He’s got bad breath, isn’t that right?

[Chen runs up stairs]


[Upstairs in Chen’s room]

Wang, the Newspaper Seller: She’s going downstairs! [to Chen, who has just returned] The Landlady seems to have a little thing for you.

Barber: [Imitating Landlady] ‘He’s got bad breath, don’t let him kiss you, don’t let him do it….ha ha ha.” [Wipes hand across Wang’s mouth]

Wang: Ugh, lots of little hairs. So Chen, how does she know if you have bad breath or not?

Chen: Get out of here!

Barber: Like a foreign soldier indeed! Would a foreign soldier have only this much left of his shirt?

[Unemployed man begins to stutter]

Chen: OK, enough already. If you can’t talk, then try not to talk so much, OK?

Wang: He found that picture.

Barber: Let’s hang it up.

Wang: OK, but let’s write something on it as a commemoration first.

Barber: I’ll write. Bring me a brush. Chen, how do you write the character for “difficulty” in the phrase “Sharing prosperity and difficulty together.”

Chen: Idiot! Can’t even write the character for ‘difficult’.’ I’m on my way. One, two, three, three idiots! [Chen sits down to write] Difficulty…difficult…difficult…

Barber: Difficult…difficult…

Chen: Wang, how do you write the character for difficult?

Wang: Isn’t ‘difficulty’ easy? It’s about the same as the character for chicken. One side looks like the character ‘beauty,’ as in talented scholar and beautiful maiden, and the other side is like the “hai” in Shanghai, oh, no, like the “jin” in Tianjin, no, that’s not right either. Slow down…’difficult,’ ‘difficult,’ it’s on the tip of my tongue, that’s right, I remember, it was in yesterday’s paper. [He looks at the newspapers pasted to the wall as wallpaper, and tears the character ‘difficulty’ from a headline which reads “The nation faces difficulties, so everyone must stand up and take responsibility.’] See, look here, isn’t this half of the character beauty in ‘talented scholar and beauty’?

online-series-angel-photoChen: But, that’s not half of the ‘jin’ in Tianjin and it isn’t half of the ‘hai’ in Shanghai. It’s the ‘Han’ half of Hankou. It’s like a place name alright, but you got the wrong place.

Chen: [reciting as he finishes the caption] ‘Sharing prosperity and difficulty together.’ Great. Here, take it.

[A light flashes from through the window from Xiao Hong’s place across the lane]

Wang: Hey, look, telegram for you!

online-series-angel-magic[Chen performs ‘magic show’ for Xiao Hong across the alley. Xiao Yun, Xiao Hong’s older sister who has fallen into a life of prostitution, is nearly hit by a piece of fruit.


[In the house where Xiao Hong and Xiao Yun live with the musician Wang and his wife.]

Old Wang: Xiao Hong! [pointing to a bird house]. Look how dirty it is, such a big girl and you can’t even do something as simple as that. All you know how to do is eat!

Old Wang [to his wife, the madam]: What do you think of what I was just telling you? What do you think?

Madam: Haven’t I told you already? I don’t have any money.

Old Wang: That’s what you always…oh, oh, a little temper, huh? You know as well as I do how much Gu gets around Shanghai. It wasn’t easy to get a chance to meet him, but now that I have, I better have a drink with him and talk things over. Come on, quick, give me the money. [to Xiao Hong as she enters] Skulking around, just like a ghost!


online-series-angel-smokes[Xiao Yun walks the streets in search of clients as Xiao Hong’s climbs across the street to Chen’s place. Xiao Yun ‘sees’ an image of Chen. Chen, Wang, and Xiao Hong encounter Xiao Yun on their way to have fun at the Great World Entertainment Palace (which is advertised in a newspaper lining the walls of the room). Chen rebuffs Xiao Yun because she is a prostitute. Wang offers Xiao Yun a cigarette.

[Dawn. Xiao Yun walks through a street market at morning. Cut to the madam playing mah jong]

Madam: Old Liu, you go ahead and play for me. I might as well go home to sleep.

[The scene shifts to the apartment where Xiao Yun lives with the musician and the madam.]

Old Wang: Why do you run away whenever you see me? I did nothing wrong. It was just that we weren’t careful enough and the old lady found about us. She was jealous, she beat you, but what could I say about it, don’t you think…”

[Madam enters]

Madam: Oh! You two are up to your tricks again. No wonder I lost money last night. Shameless bitch! You leave for the night with an empty pocketbook and come back empty too!

[Xiao Hong stands next to bird cage]


[Xiao Hong sings “Sing-song Girl at the Ends of the Earth” as Chen accompanies her on the erhu from across the lane.]

To the ends of the earth, oh, to the edge of the sea
I seek, oh, seek the soulmate who understands my song
This little sister sings, and her man plays along
You and I are of the same heart
Aiya aiyo you and I are of one heart
Toward the mountains of home, oh, I gaze to the north
Tears, oh, tears wet my robe
I long for my lover man even now
My man, oh, through hard times our love runs deep
Aiya aiyo, through hard times our love runs deep
In life, oh, who doesn’t treasure their youth
This little sister is like a thread, and you are the needle
We’re threaded together and we’ll never part
Aiya aiyo we’re threaded together and we’ll never part


online-series-angel-barber[In the barber shop. Gu Chenglong is having his hair cut. Enter Wang the Musician and Xiao Hong].

Old Wang: Hey, hey, we’re here. [To Gu]. Hey, you look very handsome. Like a young man under twenty.

Gu: Oh, come on.

Old Wang: Really. All done yet?Gu: Done. Xiao Hong, let’s go, I’ll take you to have some fun.

[Barber whistles for fruit seller. Fruit seller tails Xiao Hong and Gu as they buy fabric, and eat at an expensive restaurant.]

Waiter: What else will you have?

Gu: A deep-fried kidney, and some stir-fried shrimp.

Waiter: Anything else?

Gu: We’ll see if it’s enough after it comes.

Waiter: Very good!

[Waiter shoos the eavesdropping fruit seller away]


[In a smaller restaurant, the fruit seller shares what he’s seen with Chen Shaoping]

Fruit seller: I saw it, I saw it with my own eyes, they bought the fabric, and then went to a restaurant for some snacks. I followed them up there too, until the waiter made me go downstairs. I saw Xiao Hong, she looked really happy. She was really happy when that fat guy bought her the fabric too.

Barber: I knew that fat guy was up to no good the minute I saw him. That’s why I had Ah Bing [the fruit seller] tail him. See, wasn’t I right?

[The unemployed mute tries to speak]

Chen: Enough already! If you can’t speak, then shut up already.


[Chen returns home and tries to avoid Xiao Hong. Xiao Hong comes over to his place, fabric in hand, receiving disapproving looks from the three friends. Xiao Hong and Chen quarrel.]

Chen: Stand still! Xiao Hong, I hate you!

Xiao Hong: I hate you too!

Chen: You shouldn’t have…

Xiao Hong: Who says I should have or shouldn’t have. Let me go!

Chen: I won’t let you go!

Xiao Hong: I’m going anyway!

Chen: OK, then just make sure never to come back!

online-series-angel-sistersXiao Hong: Let go of me! Let go! Let go!
[Xiao Hong returns home and is comforted by Xiao Yun].

[Wang the Newspaper Seller and Chen drink in the wine house where Xiao Hong works]

Wang: What are you doing? Put that down. You can’t drink anymore!

Chen: Just let me be. I’m too upset now. Just let me be.

Wang: No way. You aren’t much of a drinker in the first place and you’ve already had more than enough. Put it down.

Chen: Let me be. If you don’t want to drink then don’t drink, but leave me alone.

Wang: Look at you. You’re drunk already.

[Enter Xiao Hong]

Chen: Come down here. Come on!

Wang the Musician: Xiao Hong, there’s a customer calling. What’s wrong with you?

Chen: Come down! You’re ignoring us?

Wang: Hey, Chen…

Chen: I told her to come down, so why won’t she come down?

Wang: Chen…

Chen: I want her to come down. I want her to sing one for us.

Wang: Chen…

Musician Wang: Right, right, right. Xiao Hong, didn’t you hear what the customer said? Why don’t you come down and sing one? What should we sing? How about “Sing-song Girl at the Ends of the Earth”? Come down, quick!

online-series-angel-singing2[Xiao Hong again performs “Sing-song Girl at the Ends of the Earth”.] [


To the ends of the earth, oh, to the edge of the sea
I seek, oh, seek the soulmate who understands my song
This little sister sings, and her man plays along
You and I are of the same heart
Aiya aiyo you and I are of one heart
Toward the mountains of home, oh, I gaze to the northv Tears, oh, tears wet my robe
I long for my lover man even now
My man, oh, through hard times our love runs deep…

[Chen slams the table and leaves.]

Wang [to Wang the musician]: He’s upset. It’s nothing to do with you. I’m sorry.

online-series-angel-guy[Madam and Musician escort Gu Chenglong down the stairs at their house]
Madam and Musician: Farewell. Come back anytime and we’ll have more fun…

[Gu catches sight of Xiao Hong]

Gu: There’s something I forgot to ask you about just now.

Musician Wang: Come on in!

Gu: There’s something I want to talk about with you, but it’s awkward. But since I just had some wine, here goes.

[Xiao Hong and Xiao Yun eavesdrop]

Gu: Since you’ve shown me so much respect, here’s a little money for you to go shopping with.

Madam: Stay a while, sit down.

Musician: No hurry!

Gu: I need to go to the Carefree Palace [a wine house or brothel]. You stay. Bye-bye.

Musician: Goodbye.

[Xiao Hong and Xiao Yun in Xiao Hong’s room]

Xiao Hong: Sister, what can we do? [Xiao Yun gestures toward Chen’s window] Ask him? I don’t want to. No, I don’t want to…

crying[Xiao Hong goes over to Chen’s place]

Chen: Which bastard is it at the door? You? Lucky for us you still have time to look us up. Or are you looking for that piece of pretty fabric?

Xiao Hong: I hate you! I hate you!

Chen: OK, OK, Xiao Hong, I’m sorry. Xiao Hong, forgive me…OK, OK, shut your mouth, Xiao Hong, shut your mouth, Xiao Hong, I’m sorry. It’s my fault, it’s my fault, it’s my fault…Xiao Hong, don’t cry. Xiao Hong, don’t cry. Xiao Hong, answer me! Xiao Hong, do you still hate me?

Xiao Hong: I don’t…Hey, I hate you! If my sister hadn’t made me come, I would have never come to see you again.

Wang: Your sister? Was it your sister who sent you over here?

Xiao Hong: Yeah. That man who took me to but fabric and eat out that time, he came to our place today. He was talking about me in mom’s room. I heard them. I saw him give some money to ma. They’re selling me for sure.

Chen: He gave her money?

Wang: Money?

Xiao Hong: Yes!

Chen: Don’t worry, Xiao Hong. There’s still time to figure out a way out. Come on, sit down here. We’ll help you think up a solution, OK? But will you treat me a little better? Give me a smile…

Xiao Hong: Hmmph.

Chen: Give me a smile. You won’t smile? OK then…

Wang: Hey, come look!

[He tears down a newspaper headline which reads:

Madam tried in court. ‘Daughter’ sues madam, with client as backer.]

Chen: So we could sue too!

Wang: That’s just what I mean.

Chen: But how do go about suing someone?

Wang: I’m not too sure about the details either.

Chen: That makes it harder.

Wang: [finds another newspaper from the wall, with an ad for a lawyer’s office] Hey, look!

Chen: What do you say we go see this one?

Wang: OK, let’s go right away.

Chen: Are you feeling better?

Wang: That wasn’t much of an illness anyway.

Chen: OK, then. Let’s go together.

Wang: But how can we go like this [indicates their tattered clothing].Chen: No problem. I can wear my nice uniform. I’ll say that I work at the Customs House. What do you say?

dressupWang: And me…?

Chen: You? Hmmm. Hey! You can be my chauffeur. You be my chauffeur! Look, she’s finally laughing.

Xiao Hong: I did not laugh.

Chen: You didn’t laugh? Does he look like my chauffeur or not?


[In a lawyer’s office in a skyscraper]

Chen: Look, we’re already standing above the clouds!

Wang: This is really heaven.

Chen: That’s for sure…heaven seems hotter than it was at home.

Wang: Warm alright.

Clerk: Mr. Fang is in.

Mr. Fang: Please have a seat. What do you have to say? Have you come to file a complaint?

Chen: No, we’ve come to sue.

Wang [to Chen]: Filing a complaint means to sue.

Chen: Yes, yes, we’ve come to file a complaint.

Mr. Fang: So what do you have to tell me?

Chen: He’s my chauffeur. His, his…there’s someone in his family…

Wang: Not my family!

Chen: Oh, yes, right, right, one of his relatives, who…

Wang: Not one of my relatives either!

Chen: Well, then who is it?

Wang: It’s about a, a neighbor.

Mr. Fang: I’m sorry but according our established practice, we charge five ounces of silver for an hour of consultation, fifteen for a legal document, one hundred to arrange for a hearing in court, and five hundred for an appearance in court to represent a case. I think perhaps you need to reconsider.

Chen: Five hundred ounces of silver!

Wang: How much money is five hundred ounces of silver?

Chen: So it costs money to bring a lawsuit! Damn!

Wang: I hadn’t thought of that.

[In Chen’s room]

Chen: Five hundred ounces of silver. It costs money to sue someone. This is a new one on me.

Xiao Hong: So what do we do now?

Chen: Don’t panic. We’ll think of something eventually.

[Wang finds a newspaper headline that reads, “Escaped Criminal Apprehended,” and tears off the character for escape]

Wang: What about this idea?

Chen: Xiao Hong, come here.

Xiao Hong: No, no, that’s not a good way.

Chen: Silly, you have us, so what are you worried about?

Wang: And we have lots of friends willing to help out.

Chen: That’s right. We have lots of ‘brothers-in-arms.’ Quick. You go back first, and a little later, we’ll help you escape across the ‘bridge’ across the alley. Go back…

[Xiao Hong and Chen walk down the stairs]

Xiao Hong: It’s no good.

Chen: Don’t worry. If anything goes wrong, we can find our ‘brothers’ to help us out. They’ll help us out for sure.

Xiao Hong: Shhh!

online-series-angel-troopsChen: Escaping…means she’ll be living together with me!
[Chen plays the bugle to assemble his troops. They perform a shadow play for Xiao Hong and Xiao Yun. Xiao Yun and Xiao Hong embrace]

Xiao Yun: Don’t cry. Go along with them. They’re all good people and they’ll never treat you bad.

Xiao Hong: But what about you, sister?

Xiao Yun: Me? They all dislike me. They look down on me. I know.

Xiao Hong: Why don’t you come with us?

Xiao Yun: No.

[The next morning, after Xiao Hong’s absence has been discovered]

Musician: You’re the one who’s always out gambling and now you want to blame me? Do you really want a man to take care of domestic affairs?

Madam: Don’t put on airs with me. You think you could live on music alone? The money I gamble with is my own. And you’re the one who’s been teaching that girl to sing and taking her around to the wine houses. She’s your responsibility!

Musician: Fine, fine, let’s not waste our breath on this anymore.

[Enter Chen’s Landlady, addressing Xiao Yun in the hallway]

Landlady: Are you thinking about moving over to my side? Our place is better, you know. We face south and the rooms are bigger. It’s strange but last night those two scoundrels moved out on the sly. No conscience, them. But that trumpet player is a nice man!

Madam: What trumpet player? I’ve never seen him.

Musician: Don’t pay any attention to that. You ought to be asking Xiao Yun about this. She must know. Otherwise why would she want to go across the lane. Ask her. You’ll see if I’m right or not.

Madam: And you…? [Catching sight of Xiao Yun] Cheap slut! No wonder you…Stop right there. Where do you think you’re going? Get in here!

Musician: Then I’ll be off to tell Old Gu…

Madam: [to Xiao Yun] Close the door! Come here! If you don’t tell me the truth, I’ll kill you right here and now. Take off your clothes. Did you hear me? Take off all your clothes.

[In a bathhouse]

Attendant: Old Gu, would you like to eat a snack after your bath or have something to eat now?

Gu: Hungry again, huh?

online-series-angel-teapot[Enter musician]

Musician: Is Mr. Gu here?

Attendant: He’s here. Just arrived.

Musician: Mr. Gu. So you’re here. I’ve been looking all over for you. It’s terrible! Something terrible happened to our family. That little girl of mine, Xiao Hong. Last night, she suddenly ran away.

Gu: She ran away?


[Inside a small house hidden in an alley. Barber is cutting Xiao Hong’s hair]

Xiao Hong: Is it almost done?

Barber: Just about, almost done.

Xiao Hong: Forget it! I can’t stand sitting here anymore!

Barber: But I’m almost finished.

Chen [holding a piece of fabric]: Xiao Hong, look what I bought you. I know you’ll like it, look!

Xiao Hong: Give it to me! Don’t curl my hair! When did you get this? Why didn’t you tell me?

Fruit Seller [to Wang]: How come you’re always pasting newspaper on the wall?

Wang: This broken down old wall, I can’t stand looking at it.

Fruit Peddler: Hey, what do you think we should give to Xiao Hong?

Barber: I think, I think I’ll give her a comb.

Fruit Seller: What about us?

Wang: I hadn’t thought of that.

Barber: Xiao Hong, here’s a comb for you.

Xiao Hong: I don’t want this broken old comb.

Chen: Hey, why don’t you give her your earring instead.

Barber: OK!

Xiao Hong: I don’t want this earring.

Chen: But it’s not intended for your ears. Put out your hand. This is our engagement ring! Congratulations! Look, look, here’s our engagement ring. Let’s have a drink to celebrate! [They gather around a table for a meal]

Chen [to the fruit peddler]: It’s not done yet. Why don’t you drink it all. Come on, drink up! Xiao Hong, you drink more too!

Xiao Hong: Oh. But I’m dizzy…

Chen: No matter. Who’ll drink with Xiao Hong? Who’s going to drink with Xiao Hong? Old Wang, why don’t you have a drink with her? Well, why don’t you say something?

Wang: I’ve already drank a lot.

Barber: That’s right. Old Wang is so happy tonight. I’ve never seen him drink as much wine as he has tonight.

Unemployed man: This…this…this…

Chen: OK, enough already. If you can’t talk, don’t say anything at all.

Fruit seller: Don’t stop him. Everyone’s so happy tonight. Let him finish his sentence.

Unemployed man: Ah…ah…Xiao…Xiao…Hong…sing…something…sing a song.

Chen: That’s the best thing you’ve said in your life! Go on, sing.

Xiao Hong: No, I’m dizzy. I don’t want to sing.

Chen: No, you just have to sing tonight. I’ll go get my instrument.

Xiao Hong:Slow down. I won’t sing unless you do a magic trick for me.

Fruit seller: Good idea, bravo!

online-series-angel-magic2Chen: Alright then, sure I’ll do a trick.

Xiao Hong: Make way!

[Chen seems to make his thumb stretch]

Chen: This is the real stuff, no fooling around. Here’s another one. It goes in this eye, now, go in!

[He performs a trick in which he makes a silver coins appear to disappear into his eye]

Fruit seller: Is that the real stuff or fooling around?

All: Shush!

Chen: That one was called ‘Silver Flying Away’

All: Let’s have another one!

[Chen seems to knock a coin from out of his mouth]

All: What’s that one called?

Chen: That was called ‘Silver…’

Wang: I know, I know, I saw this in the paper yesterday.

[He points to a headline that reads: “Massive exports of silver [baiyin chukou] this past month”

Wang: It’s called ‘silver coming out of the mouth’ [baiyin chukou]!

[Note: China was at the time experiencing the massive draining of its foreign exchange reserves on account of the rampant export of capital (usually measured in silver] to off-shore havens by foreign firms.]

[Wang is selling newspapers as Chen plays trumpet on the street]

Wang: “Massive export of silver!” Hey, get your Daily News, hey, get your Shanghai News, hey, get your Public Record, hey…

[cut to barber shop]

Barber shop boss [to barbers]: There’s no business. What am I supposed to do?

Barbers: We don’t care if you don’t have any business…You still ought to give us what you owe…I even pawned my earring…

[Night. In an alley.]

Wang [to Xiao Yun]: We could certainly feed another mouth, and Xiao Hong misses you a lot. Why don’t you run away too? I think you should run away too.

Wang: I don’t understand you.

[At the house. Chen is telling a ghost story]

Chen: And when night came and it was so quiet you couldn’t hear a sound, except the wind outside the windows sighing, and the candle light flickered. It was just then that the ghost came downstairs…

Xiao Hong: Aiya!

Chen: All you could hear from the stairwell was a series of thumps…Listen!

[Enter Xiao Yun]

Xiao Hong: Sister! Did they send you here? Sister, here’s some cool water.

[Chen breaks the glass]

Wang: Chen, how could you…

Chen: I don’t care why she’s here, but she shouldn’t come sneaking over here in the middle of the night. How did she know we live here anyway. Who told her? [to Wang] You must have told her.

[Enter policeman]

Policeman: Does this woman live here? Does this woman live here?

Wang: Yes…yes she does.

Policeman: I wasn’t asking you. [To Chen] What do you say?

Chen: Yes. [spits].

[In the house]

Xiao Hong: Sister, I’m going to go cook some rice. They should be coming home soon.

[Enter Wang]

Xiao Hong: Oh? You’re home already? Look, my new dress is finished.

Wang: Oh. It’s pretty. Very nice.

Xiao Hong: What? You’re going upstairs?

Wang: Oh, well, the wall up there is broken, so I wanted to cover it up with newspapers. Do we have any paste?

Xiao Hong: Yes.

[Wang goes upstairs and sits down next to Xiao Yun]

Wang: I bought you some medicine. From now on, you don’t have to live the kind of life you’ve been living.

[Enter Chen]

glassesChen: Xiao Hong!

Xiao Hong: [gestures upstairs] Shhh. [holding cup] I can do that trick too.

Chen: Hey…I made up a new trick. Do you want me to show it to you? [He has her stand against a wall, holding two glasses up with just her arms]

Chen: This cup if full of red wine and that one is full of green wine. [Note: Red and green together symbolize marriage and sensual pleasure.]

[enter Landlady]

Landlady: How about your rent?

Chen: Oh, right. I still have a dollar on me, why don’t you take that?

Landlady: One dollar isn’t enough.

Chen: Well, then, take this today and I’ll give you more tomorrow.

Landlady: OK. [She does a double-take at Xiao Hong pinned to the wall.]

[In the courtyard just outside]

Landlord: Did you get their rent?

Landlady: Yeah, he gave me one dollar.

Landlord: What did take his dollar for? Idiot! Don’t you know that foreign dollars aren’t any good anymore?

[NOTE: Silver Mexican dollars were an international currency of choice in Shanghai until 1935, when they were taken out of circulation by the Nationalist government in an effort to stem the tide of foreign exchange reserves leaving the country.]

Landlady: Foreign dollars aren’t any good? You must be joking.

Landlord: You don’t get it. From today forward, anyone who uses foreign dollars could be prosecuted.

Landlady: Prosecuted?

Landlord: Give it to me. I’ll give it back to him.

[Landlord opens the door to the house]

Landlord: Mr. Chen, can you exchange this for a paper bill?

Chen: What for? It’s not as if foreign dollars are made of bronze.

Landlord: No, foreign dollars aren’t any good anymore. Didn’t you hear about it?

Chen: No good anymore? You’re joking. Then give it back to me.

Landlord: Do you have paper money?

Chen: No.

online-series-angel-kissLandlord: Well, OK then.

[Landlord leaves, does double-take at Xiao Hong pinned to wall].Xiao Hong: Hey…[Chen pretends to read newspaper]. Let me go, I can’t move. I need to cook the rice.Chen: Don’t worry. I’ll make the rice appear in the glass. [He kisses her. The glasses fall to the ground, startling Wang and Xiao Yun, who are also kissing. Wang throws another cup down from upstairs].Wang: What was that noise?

Chen: Uh…uh…uh…it was the landlord. Uh, he says, he says foreign dollars aren’t any good anymore. [to Xiao Hong] How could that be? Foreign dollars. Hey, how did you get upstairs? Why are you home so early?

Wang: Me? I…

[Someone is repainting the arch that reads “Peaceful Lane”]

Barbershop boss: Damn! That must mean that rents are going up again.

Rent collector [to painter]: Who was that talking?

Painter: That was the boss of the barber shop next door.

Collector: [to Boss] I was just looking for you. What about your rent? Are you planning to buy or not?

Boss: Who are you?

Collector: I am the rent collection agent.

Boss: It used to be someone else.

Collector: There’s been a change in management. I’ll be the collector from now on. The new owner is concerned that you pay the three months of rent that you owe, within three days. If not, we’ll request that you vacate.

Boss: Within three days?

[Boss enters barber shop]

Boss: Damn!

Barbers: Why’s he in such a temper this time?

Boss: You’ll have to hurry up and find jobs elsewhere. We’re closing up shop here!

[Cut to the house]

Wang: Closing?

Chen: Closing?

Barber: Ai! Closing.

Xiao Hong: Don’t. Don’t cry.

Chen: Take my hat. Don’t cry. I have a way to prevent your boss from having to close. You two come with me!

[At the barber shop. Wang and Chen try to ‘drum up’ some business with music]

[enter Musician Wang, who is surreptitiously spying out Chen’s whereabouts]

Barbers: Hey! Big sale going on here! Hey! Come quick! Quick! Big sale here! Hey! Big sale! Two heads shaved for the price of one!

[Enter a group of bald monks]

[Enter rent collector]

Barber: Here’s one with hair! Make way! Come on inside! Sit down!

Collector: I didn’t come by to have my head shaved!

Barber: Big sale!

Collector: I came to collect debts from the boss, not get my head shaved!

[Collector is placed in the barber chairs]

Collector: Bastards! Bastards! Let go of me!

Barber: Don’t worry! It’s cheap today.

Collector: Bastards! Help! Help!

[Boss comes downstairs and releases the collector]

Collector: Damn you! [smashes windows] Damn you! Damn you! Damn you!


[in the bathhouse]

Musician Wang: I already found out where they live!

Gu: So have you seen that girl inside?

Musician: I haven’t seen her exactly, but she has to be there. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that the moment she escaped, that little devil moved out too.

Old Chen: That’s right!

Musician: And I noticed a long time how the two of the sometimes carried on…

Old Chen: What do you think we should do, Mr. Gu?

Old Chen: Just say the word and we’ll take care of it.

Gu: OK, let’s go have a look tomorrow.

[The trio walks toward the house. Inside, Xiao Hong notices their approach]

Xiao Hong: What should we do? Those two haven’t come back yet either.

[Xiao Yun helps Xiao Hong escape upstairs and remains downstairs to delay their pursuit]

Musician: Oh-ho! I’ve finally found you out! Tell me where Xiao Hong is. Tell me! [Grabs her and shakes] Damn you! Say it! Quick. Tell me! Hm. Cheap slut!

[Xiao Yun picks up a knife]

Musician: Hold on a second. Put that down.

[Xiao Yun throws the knife, missing the musician].

Musician: You want to kill me huh? Well, I’ll kill you first! [stabs Xiao Yun with knife]. Now tell me, where is she?

[Old Chen points upstairs]

Musician: Right. We should go up and have a look. Keep an eye on her, Old Gu.

[Gu, not wanting to be implicated in the stabbing, leaves. The musician and Chen come back down after a fruitless search]

Musician: Old Gu! Old Gu! What happened to Old Gu? Could it be that he’s setting us up to take the fall?

[They exit]


[At the home of the barber, the unemployed man, and the fruit seller. Wang stands as if to leave

Chen: Think about it. Am I right or am I wrong?

Wang: Don’t try to stop me!

Chen: Don’t do it!Wang: Why not?

Chen: What are you going for?

Wang: I’m going to…

Chen: Is it worth it?

Wang: What do you mean by that?

Chen: Is it really worth fighting for that kind of woman?

Wang: What are you saying? [Wang slaps Chen. An image of the photo of the group, captioned, “Together through prosperity and difficulty” flashes in front of the camera]

Chen: Old Wang, I’m sorry. [Chen runs out of the room]

Wang: Chen, where do you think you’re going?

Chen: I’ll go find her for you, I’ll…

Wang: Calm down! This isn’t some kind of game. [Wang exits]online-series-angel-hug

[Wang enters a building and finds Xiao Yun’s prostrate body]

Wang: Xiao Yun! Xiao Yun! Aiya! Are you injured?

[Wang carries her back home, where the whole group is waiting]

Chen: Old Wang is back!

online-series-angel-injuredWang: Quick! You all look after her and I’ll go find a doctor.

Xiao Hong: Sister!

Chen: Xiao Yun, Xiao Yun, Xiao Yun…[Xiao Yun drinks a few swallows of water].

Chen: Xiao Yun, I’m sorry. Can you forgive me?

Xiao Yun: We all share the same miserable fate. What does forgiveness mean anyway?

Xiao Hong: Sister!

Chen: Don’t be sad, Xiao Yun. Rest easy. Wang has already gone to get you a doctor.

Xiao Yun: A doctor? Old Wang? Old Wang is a real friend…Old Wang… [The shadow of a police officer passes by the window.] Is that him coming back?

Chen: No, that’s not him. That’s just the policeman on the night beat. Old Wang will be back any moment now.

Xiao Yun: Police? Police? What’s he coming here for? To arrest people? To arrest me? To arrest him? Arrest him.

Chen: Xiao Yun!

Xiao Yun: Arrest him!

Chen: Xiao Yun.

Xiao Yun: Let him go!

Chen: Xiao Yun!

Xiao Yun: Aiya!

Chen: Xiao Yun!

Xiao Yun: Aiya!

Chen: Xiao Yun, it’s OK, nothing is happening, your eyes are playing tricks on you. Xiao Yun, Xiao Yun…

[Xiao Yun sits up]

Xiao Yun: Let him go! Let him go! He’s a good man. He helps poor people…ants. Ants…ants.

[Xiao Yun expires. Wang returns.]

Chen: She’s gone to sleep. Are you tired? You…

[Wang sits]

Wang: Not enough money. The doctor won’t come.

[Camera pans up the length of a skyscraper]