Chinese Film Classics

I hope list members are keeping well. I am writing to share English-subtitled versions of twelve early Chinese films, which I have made available open-access on the YouTube channel “Chinese Film Classics”:

The films currently available are: 

  1. Laborer’s Love 勞工之愛情 (Zhang Shichuan, dir., 1922)
  2. Daybreak 天明 (Sun Yu, dir., 1933)
  3. Goddess 神女 (Wu Yonggang, dir., 1934)
  4. Sports Queen 體育皇后 (Sun Yu, dir., 1934)
  5. The Great Road 大路 (Sun Yu, dir., 1934 [released 1935])
  6. New Women 新女性 (Cai Chusheng, dir., 1935) (translated by Eileen Cheng-yin Chow)
  7. Street Angels 馬路天使 (Yuan Muzhi, dir., 1937)
  8. Song at Midnight 夜半歌聲 (Ma-Xu Weibang, dir., 1937)
  9. Long Live the Missus! 太太萬歲 (Sang Hu, dir., 1947) (also available with filmscript and stills on MCLC Publications:
  10. Spring in a Small Town 小城之春 (Fei Mu, dir. 1948)
  11. Wanderings of Three-Hairs the Orphan 三毛流浪記 (Zhao Ming and Yan Gong, dirs., 1949)
  12. Crows and Sparrows 烏鴉與麻雀 (Zheng Junli, dir., 1949 [released 1950]) (also available with filmscript and stills on MCLC Publications:

I hope that these versions will be useful to you for both research and teaching. I undertook to translate these films myself (with the exception of New Women) because I found most publicly-available translations to be incomplete or inadequate, or simply inaccessible. My approach has been to translate everything in the film-text that seems meaningful, including written words onscreen and songs.

For example, Laborer’s Love has original bilingual Chinese-English intertitles, but the meaning of the Chinese is sometimes different from the meaning of the English, so I’ve tried to represent that difference with subtitles. The lyrics of the songs in The Great Road and Spring in a Small Town also seem significant to the action. Crows and Sparrows is a film full of documents.

More films will follow, including Playthings 小玩意 (Sun Yu, dir., 1933) and Spring River Flows East 一江春水向東流 (Cai Chusheng and Zheng Junli, dirs., 1947). Subscribing to the channel is the best way to get updates.

I would like to thank Liu Yuqing and Yao Jiaqi, PhD students at UBC, for their assistance with research and with adding the subtitles to the films. Thanks also to Jordan Levine, Hui Liu of University of Minnesota, Eileen Chow, Andrew Rodekohr, Xu Lanjun, and Kirk Denton.

I warmly welcome comments, corrections, and suggestions of other films to subtitle. I am also looking to obtain a full, high-quality copy of Phony Phoenixes 假鳳虛凰 (Sang Hu, dir., 1947). Please email me at

Take care, and happy viewing,

Christopher Rea

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