Paul Fonoroff is an expert on Chinese cinema and author of the new book Chinese Movie Magazines 1921–1951.
Peter Zhou is director of the C. V. Starr East Asian Library and assistant university librarian at UC Berkeley.
Ruan Lingyu, Tian Jian, Zhang Zhizhi, Li Keng,
Silent film star Ruan Lingyu delivers one of her greatest, most luminous performances as a mother forced into prostitution in this classic of the Golden Age of Shanghai cinema. Splitting her time between rocking her infant son to sleep and prowling the streets for lecherous men, our virtuous heroine soon falls prey to a portly, violent pimp, who’ll stop at nothing to keep her under his sway. The film’s unblinking gaze at prostitution could make even jaded denizens of pre-Code Hollywood blush, while Ruan’s immortal performance combines the beauty and steel of contemporaries such as Stanwyck, Dietrich, and Harlow.