Dreams Come True

Cinderella type films were very common in Hong Kong during the 1950’s and 60’s when there was a large divide between the rich and poor in that city. These films played to people’s fantasies that with just a little bit of luck you could move out of poverty into the comfort of a life with large houses, sleek cars, fine clothes and servants. In general, these were romances in which people from opposite classes meet, fall in love and run into societal or family opposition. This 1960 Cathay film plays out very lightly – more a screwball comedy akin to a 1930’s depression era Jean Arthur film than a serious melodrama or social critique. The plot is paper thin and the characters not much deeper, but it has its charms which are primarily derived from the wide-eyed mugging of Kitty Ting Hao.
There can’t be much doubt as to why she picked up the moniker of “Kitty” – she definitely has some feline features around the face and eyes and often takes on the satisfied countenance of a cat that ate the cream. Her sharply angled eyebrows act as exclamation points for the myriad of fluid expressions that dot her face throughout this film. She really is as cute as a kitten playing with a string in this one. She plays Fang Fang, a flower girl who walks out into the countryside early every day to buy fresh flowers and then attempts to sell them at strategic points within the city. In a little ditty she sings to herself about which flowers are easy to sell to what parties “White orchids are easy to sell. Dating people like to buy them. Christmas flowers are easy to sell. Every Christian needs them. Ya-ho-yi-dar-yo”. Like every Cinderella story there have to be villains and here we have a few of them – a stepmother who hits her if enough flowers aren’t sold and a pair of minor league triads who demand protection money from her.  These must be hard times because these two chase after her for the entire movie to collect their monthly $5 protection fee!
One day while selling flowers at the pier she is forced to hide from the cops and jumps into a parked car and then can’t figure how to get out - this is where the Cinderella bit begins. A wealthy family has gone to meet the daughter of a family friend who lives in San Francisco and is coming to Hong Kong for the first time. All they have is an old photo of her and when they see Fang Fang in their car they assume she is Miss Feng due to a strong resemblance. They greet her happily and take her to their home as a guest and Kitty just goes along for the ride. Only the older son Xihong (played by Kelly Lai Chen) knows who she really is but he is so mesmerized by her hypnotic eyebrows that he completely falls under her spell and just lets the scenario play out. Living in the lap of luxury is more than o.k. by Kitty and she literally does somersaults and rolls on the plush carpeting. Trouble is that she knows nothing about this girl that she is suppose to be – not even that San Francisco is a city and her perceived odd behavior is first put down as American and then that she must be having a nervous breakdown and should be institutionalized!
This gets her to do a quick exit out the window but she ends up literally in the dog house and has to pretend to be sleepwalking to get back inside. Eventually, the real Miss Feng arrives in Hong Kong and lo and behold is a nearsighted bucktoothed version of Fang Fang (played again by Kitty) – and Fang Fang’s parents grab her and take her to their hovel thinking this is their daughter. In the meantime love has bloomed between Fang Fang and the Xihong but of course she is a poor flower seller and he the heir to wealth – but this isn’t real life thankfully and so we can sit back in the surety that love will win the hearts and minds of all. Also in the film are the jovial Liu Enjia as Fang Fang’s father and Wu Jiaxiang as the westernized doctor intent on committing Fang Fang.

My rating for this film: 6.0