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Title: Excerpt from the Hong Kong Cantonese Opera film, ???Legend of the Purple Hairpin, directed by Lee Tit, produced by Hawk’s production company (1959), Courtesy of Li Shek Hung
Date: Unknown
Donor: Li Shek Hung
Subject: Arts, China
Province: British Columbia
Language: CHI
Holding Institution: Hong Kong Film Archive
Author: Li Tit; Tong Tik-Sang

Li Shek Hung

??? or Legend of the Purple Hairpin (1959) is a beloved Cantonese Opera film, exemplary of a period considered the “Golden Age” of Hong Kong opera cinema. The film is based on a Ming Dynasty opera and was revived and adapted for the screen by the famed librettist Tong Tik-Sang. Yam Kim-fai (a female actor renowned for playing male roles) plays Li Yik, a scholar who falls in love with the beautiful courtesan, Fuk Siu-yuk (played by Pak Suet-Sin). The film is directed by Lee Tit and also stars Leung Sing-po and Leng Chi-pak.

In this excerpt from the 1959 opera film ???Legend of the Purple Hairpin, the scholar Li Yik (alternate transliteration: Li Yi) has just found Fuk Siu-yuk’s (alternate transliteration: Huo Xiaoyou) lost hairpin, resulting in the central plot motif: 'pin picker meets pin owner.' A playful flirtation ensues as Li Yi attempts to woo Fuk Siu-yuk, who at first denies Li Yik’s advances but reveals through her song that she is enamoured by the famous scholar. In subsequent scenes, a powerful general and his daughter conspire to separate the lovers.