Organized Panel Session
This paper highlights Shanghai émigré Evan Yang, among the film talents recruited by the transnational Cathay-Motion Pictures and General Investments (MP&GI), as a central figure to understanding the company’s films in Cold War Hong Kong. I argue that his films exemplify how expressions of modernity in MP&GI’s films are not solely influenced by Hollywood, but are also negotiations of cultures made by diasporic filmmakers during the Cold War. This paper examines three of Yang’s films, Air Hostess (1959), Our Dream Car (1959) and It’s Always Spring (1962). It argues that his spectacles of modernity, which are often complemented by modern women and vehicles, is a rewriting of Shanghai modernist literary tropes of modern women and transportation into Cold War Hong Kong films. By approaching the concept of “vehicle” from three perspectives – vehicles as material emblems of capitalist modernity, women as vehicles of modernity, and film as a pedagogical vehicle of modernity, this paper questions: How do Yang’s films rewrite the relationship between the independent travelling woman and her mode of modern transportation? What does it mean for a woman to be a travelling spectator of modernity and for urban culture to be represented through her gaze? This paper proposes that Yang’s representations of gendered mobility and modernity are not only linked to Cold War ideals of transnational movement, freedom and capitalism; they should also be contextualized as a transcultural aesthetic that gained an afterlife through the border-crossing routes of Shanghai émigrés in Cold War Hong Kong.