Dairy of a Lady Killer

During the 1960’s the Shaw Brothers reached out a number of times to Japan to gain some of their cinematic skills in technology and style. It began initially when the Shaw’s witnessed the popularity of the Japanese Chambara films in Hong Kong and wanted to incorporate some of these qualities – graphic violence, faster action choreography and stylish designs – into their wuxia films. They did this by bringing some Japanese directors and technicians to Hong Kong and by also sending some of their staff to Japan. They later used Japanese directors for films other than wuxia – in particular utilizing Inoue Umetsugu who directed over fifteen films for Shaw – many of them lavish musicals. Another Japanese director was Matsuo Akinori (Mai Chi-ho) who directed two Hong Kong films, The Lady Professional and Asia-Pol.
Chin Han and Fang Ying
Dairy of a Lady Killer also comes via Japan – directed by Koh Nakahira/ Nakahira Yasushi (Chinese name,Yang Shu-hsi). Nakahira had worked with both Akira Kurosawa and Suzuki Seijun back in Japan and had directed a number of films there before coming to Hong Kong in 1967. He was considered one of the premier post WWII New Wave directors with his themes of youth and sex. He directed four films for the Shaw Brothers – Inter-Pol, Trapeze Girl, Summer Heat and this one. Three of them including Diary were remakes of some of his Japanese films – Diary from a film called The Hunters Diary produced by Nikkatsu in 1964. He brings a nice eye for design style as all the Japanese directors seemed to and a willingness to film outside of the confines of the Shaw studio sets.
Fang Ying and Chin Han
The film though doesn’t generate as much excitement or tension as the premise might lead one to hope. It feels a bit slow and ponderous at times and the supposed mystery of the film carries the suspense of a brown bag lunch from home. Not having seen the original, I can’t say whether the sexual content of the film was toned down, but this definitely has little sizzle in that regard. In an odd choice, most of the erotic substance of the film takes place during the opening credit sequence with a few nude shots  - one of Tina Leung/Tina Ti – but in the film itself there is very little – only a quick shower scene with Fannie Fan. By the end the film was testing my patience in a number of ways, as the killer had been obvious for a very long time if one was staying awake and I was getting annoyed with everyone – that was still alive.
The film opens nicely as the camera slowly pans a typing pool of young women – one desk has no one sitting there though and the camera zooms to an open window with her shoes lying there. She is hanging outside from the ledge on the verge of suicide – and suddenly lets go and falls to her death. Her sister begins to look into the cause of her unhappiness and of course finds a man behind it. Chin Han (the one who married Ivy Ling Po) is a modern day lothario – a lady-killer in the old fashioned vernacular. With his tight stylish suits, good looks and reputable job, there are few women who can resist his charms. He hits the streets of Hong Kong when the mood strikes him (often) and looks for a suitably lonely looking target to ply with drinks and sweet words. More often than not they fall for his lines like a starving fish and end up back at his hotel room for a roll in the sheets. The next day Chin bids them adieu and rarely looks back. Wanting to keep a record of his trophy taking, he keeps a diary of his conquests with all the details of how he seduced them.
Fang Ying and Fanny Fan
He has a fiancée (Fang Ying), but she is a proper girl that sternly refuses his whimpering advances and tells him to wait till they get married. One night after being rejected again, he bangs his head in frustration on the steering wheel and sets out for a little fun, feeling fully justified for cheating on Fang. He heads for that well-known pick up spot – a bowling alley – where he quickly spots and sizes up Fanny Fan decked out in sexy green and with a lurid smile that spells “available”. He shows her his bowling skills and she is suitably impressed enough to want to see his other skills – strike!
Margaret Tu Chuan
One night with Fanny is enough and he is soon on to other targets – the next night he spies Margaret Tu Chuan through the window of a record store and follows her to a Japanese movie that is playing (bonus points to anyone who can I.D. the film being played) and she is soon mewing back at his place like a lost kitten. The next day it’s an artist he sees painting – he pretends to be an art dealer and a few drinks later Tina Ti has invited him to her place. As an art connoisseur he insists on seeing her best artwork – her nude body and she mildly resists until her roommate comes in and spoils the fun.
Tina Ti/Tina Leung
He takes some time out from his activities – when does this guy work anyway? – and notices that some of his conquests are getting into the paper – unfortunately in the obituary section – murdered soon after he had seen them. Coincidence or not – the cops don’t think so. Fang finds out about his nocturnal activities by reading his diary, but instead of giving him the heave-ho like he deserved, she suggests he take care of this sex addiction – I think Michael Douglas has a number he can use. At about this point I started losing interest in the film as she goes about trying to prove his innocence.
Chin Han and Fanny Fan
This was the last film for both Fanny Fan and Margaret Tu Chuan – both well-known actresses during the 1960’s for their libidinous roles. Fanny married and retired from the business. She had been in films since winning a beauty contest and joining Shaw in 1957. At first she was in the Cantonese division under the name Wan Li Hong, but she soon switched to the Mandarin film division, changed her name and soon found success in the film Pink Murder and notoriety for her sexy role in Golden Buddha. Her curvaceous figure earned her the nickname “the Oriental Brigitte Bardot”. It was Margaret’s final film for a very different and tragic reason – she was soon afterwards to commit suicide with her reputed female lover. Nicknamed the “Wild Girl” for her lifestyle she had begun in film in 1957 with Cathay but soon moved to the Shaw Brothers. She became a star in the 1960 film How to Marry a Millionaire, but over the next few years her career soured and her marriage into one of Hong Kong’s more elite families went bad and she turned to sleeping pills on November 30th 1969.
Mona Fong (?) and Helen Ma
The film also has a few other cameos of note – Helen Ma and Shirley Huang show up as old girlfriends of Chin Han’s and there is a nightclub number that I think may be sung by Mona Fong. I can’t find any supporting evidence of this but it looks so much like the singer in Mambo Girl, but that had been 10 years earlier. Mona had sung some theme songs for Shaw previously and actually joined the company in 1969 – so perhaps this was just a thank you to Shaw.
Shirley Huang
Note: I had a hard time figuring out who these actresses were and am actually not sure I got all of them correct. If anyone knows of an error I made, please let me know.

My rating for this film: 5.5

Information about actors/director from the Biographies on the DVD and this site.