Street Angel (1937 film)

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Street Angel
Street Angel (1937 movie poster).jpg
Directed by Yuan Muzhi
Written by Yuan Muzhi
Starring Zhou Xuan
Zhao Huishen
Zhao Dan
Music by He Lüting
Distributed by United States: Cinema Epoch (DVD)
Release date
July 24, 1937
Running time
87 minutes
Country China
Language Mandarin

Street Angel (simplified Chinese: 马路天使; traditional Chinese: 馬路天使; pinyin: Mǎlù tiānshǐ) is a Chinese film released in 1937. The film was directed by Yuan Muzhi and stars Zhao Dan and the popular singer Zhou Xuan in her debut role.


The film deals with two sisters, Xiao Hong (Zhou Xuan) and Xiao Yun (Zhao Huishen) who have fled from the war in Northeast China to Shanghai, where they are living under the brutal thumb of their adoptive parents. Xiao Yun has already been forced into prostitution while her sister serves as a teahouse singer. Soon the sisters realize that the adoptive parents have decided to sell Xiao Hong to a wealthy patron, whereupon they seek the aid of their neighbors, a street musician, Xiao Chen (Zhao Dan), and his misfit friends.

As one of the early sound films in China, Street Angel is often praised for its innovative use of music, as well as its unique mix of melodrama and comedy. One sequence in particular, where Xiao Chen and his friends attempt to act as barbers, reveals a moment of slapstick or physical comedy in the otherwise dreary third act. There are also several musical interludes, sung by Zhou Xuan (Xiao Hong).


Zhou Xuan as Xiao Hong in Street Angel

Praised for its portrayal of the downtrodden in Shanghai at the time of its release, today, Street Angel is often considered one of the classics of the "leftist" filmmaking period that reached its peak in the 1930s. It was selected as one of the Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures by the 24th Hong Kong Film Awards, ranked 11th.


Featured in the film are two original songs, "Song of the Four Seasons" (四季歌) and "The Wandering Songstress" (天涯歌女), both composed by He Lüting, with lyrics by Tian Han. Sung by star Zhou Xuan, these songs became popular and are still recognized as expressions of the turbulent 1930s era of Chinese history and among the most famous songs in modern Chinese culture.

Cast and roles[edit]

  • Zhou Xuan - Xiao Hong
  • Zhao Huishen - Xiao Yun, Xiao Hong's older sister
  • Zhao Dan - Chen Shaoping, aka. Xiao Chen, Xiao Hong's boyfriend. A trumpet player who lives across the alley
  • Wei Heling - Wang, the newspaper seller and Chen's best friend

See also[edit]

External links[edit]