As the decade of the 1930s began, Shanghai's smaller scale movie studios were scrambling to survive. The martial arts and "gods and spirits" fantasies that were the staple for many were not only declining in popularity, the promulgation of China's first censorship regulations in January and February of 1931 would seem to seal their fate unless they could find ways to make entertaining films in other genres. Moreover, while Shanghai studios were all still making silents, sound was on the horizon, which would demand more investment in equipment than the majority of them could afford.
[left, poster for《Blue Skies After the Rain》. Click on any image to view full size]
So in 1931 Da Zhonghua and Jinan, two studios facing an uncertain future, partnered to make a sound picture. The new joint venture, named the Huaguang Sound on Film Motion Picture Company, made arrangements with a Japanese film studio to lease its equipment, and at the beginning of March sent the Chinese cast and crew to Tokyo for filming there. In addition to being the first Chinese production with sound on film (not on wax disks),《Blue Skies After the Rain》, thereby became the first Chinese production filmed outside of Greater China. Shooting was completed by the end of May, after which the film was returned to Shanghai, and advertised as having been filmed in a system called "Kinotone." A 1950s interview with actress Huang Naishuang provides some interesting details on making the film.
The movie premiered in Shanghai in July, after which the two studios cancelled their partnership. Jinan made a few more silents that year, then ceased operations, while Da Zhonghua's ownership agreed to merge into the newly-formed Lianhua studio.
[lower right, newspaper advertisement for《Blue Skies After the Rain》, proclaiming it the first "sound on film" Chinese motion picture]
Most of the names in the credits were relative unknowns except for Huang Naishuang, cast in her usual role of loose-living playgirl, and Zhang Zhizhi, playing the heavy, again as usual. One interesting name is that of the cinematographer, one "K. Henry," a non-Asian name. There is no one in the Internet Movie Data Base by that name, so the specific individual and reasons for being in Japan at that time must remain a mystery.
Yuguo Tianqing (1931) 雨过天青 (Blue Skies After the Rain)
alternate English title: Peace After Storm
Huaguang. B&W. Mandarin. 12 reels. Premiered July 1, 1931 at the Peking Theater in Shanghai. Direction: Xia Chifeng. Screenplay: Xie Shihuang. Cinematography: K. Henry. Cast: Chen Qiufeng (Chen Xiaoying), Lin Ruxin (Wang Ailian), Huang Naishuang (Lina), Liu Yixin (Liu Jie), Zhang Zhizhi (the devious brother), Jin Zihong (mute customer at the dance hall), Yi Lisi (the hypnotist), Madam Zhou (Liu Jie’s mother), Zheng Maluo (young man), Zhou Dehong (man in the dried-up well), Wu Kezi (first backstage worker), Mi Ziluo (cigarette seller), Zhang Yueying (dance hostess), Chen Jinmei (dance hostess).
[A young couple have a happy life, but trouble is just around the corner]
Wang Ailian is a faithful and loving wife, but after a time her husband Chen Xiaoying, bored with married life, starts going out on his own. He meets and falls for a playgirl called Lina, and soon neglects his home life for her. Ailian pleads with him, but to no avail, he is too besotten with Lina. At last Ailian leaves him, and he moves in with his new romance. But after a while, Lina tires of Xiaoying, and starts seeing other men.
[right, his brother joins his wife in deploring a young husband's misconduct]
When he complains she tosses him out. In the meantime, his elder brother, who had previously claimed he only wanted to help save the marriage, now shows his true colors and is pressuring Ailian to become his mistress.
At last, Xiaoying comes to his senses and vows to change his ways. He goes to Ailian and begs her forgiveness. She agrees to give him another chance, and soon they reconcile and reestablish their earlier relationship.