Thursday, December 9, 2010

Linda Lin Dai Week: Love Parade (1963)

For more on Linda Lin Dai, check out duriandave's Soft Film blog. For a short biography of Linda Lin Dai, check out this site.

To say that Doe Chin's Love Parade (1963) is a simple, childish, sometimes tedious film is to state the obvious.

By virtue of the presence of Linda Lin Dai in a variety of outfits -- including some cute glasses -- I'd say it was also essential viewing for any Lin Dai fan.

Really, it's no worse than any Doris Day/Rock Hudson film.

Peter Chen Ho is Michael Shi, a fashion designer, and Linda Lin Dai is Dr. Mei Ye De, a gynaecologist.

If only those professions and actors had been reversed and we'd have an interesting film to discuss. I guess Peter Chen Ho as a doctor who put women in stirrups was too radical a concept for 1963.

Linda Lin Dai laughing at something but probably not that above idea...

Julie Sheh Yin -- the mother of actor Stephen Fung -- plays a platonic friend of Michael Shi and she always seems to show up at awkward moments.

Director King Hu plays Dr. Fu, a guy who's pining after Linda Lin Dai's doctor in the hopes of marrying the woman.

Actually, King Hu is quite funny in this film and he possesses a kind of natural comedic sense that wasn't nearly as contrived as the other bits of comedy in the film.

So there are some musical numbers -- fashion show stuff and other montages -- and the two main characters marry after spending a few cute moments together.

Really, Love Parade (1963) is far too long -- you could cut off 25 minutes from this thing and lose little -- but, to his credit, Doe Chin keeps things moving; the comedy and romantic bits are handled with little subtlety but at least the sets and costumes change so frequently that there's always something lovely to look at.

The main plot of the film is the fact that the couple never consummate the marriage. With the arrival of Julie Sheh Yin and King Hu, there's more awkward comedy. Or Linda's doctor gets called for an emergency. It's a bit silly and all the more so when a pajama-ed Peter Chen Ho looks at Linda Lin Dai coming into the bedroom like a hungry child and not a lusty husband.

You know, there's a reason that Fred and Ginger never hoped in the sack; seeing Astaire and Rogers in bed together would have been such an exercise in clumsiness that you'd never want to see them dance again.

It's the same here. Peter Chen Ho is charming in a very safe way. And Linda Lin Dai is beautiful and cute and sexy but it's a kind of safe sexiness.

It's the fault of the material here and not the performers. One can watch this and see how the Shaw Brothers operation was finding its way; had Umetsugu Inoue directed Love Parade (1963), the film would have moved at a more rapid click. And he would have known how to use the comic secondary characters more effectively.

Still, while Love Parade (1963) bored me a bit, I still enjoyed it simply for Linda Lin Dai.

Yes, she is that cute in this. Not even 30, she seems a bit more mature here, despite the juvenile plot machinations. And as she moves through the far too long musical number at the end of the film -- a musical number that seems like a way to wrap up the plot because no one can think of anything else to do -- she seems very much at ease.

I mean, to compare Linda Lin Dai here to the way she was in Les Belles (1960) is to see a world of difference. In the earlier film, she's a bit stiff and easily upstaged in a few moments by the sexy Fanny Fan -- Fanny's in this in an early musical number.

But here she's comfortable and clearly having fun with her role.

Check out Brian's review here.

You can order Love Parade (1963) on DVD here.