Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Film Clip of Taipei During the 1950s

If the Babel Fish text translator is correct, that's what this short film clip on YouTube is about. The quality isn't great, but there are still some great images from back in the day. The actual title: 民國50年代的台北街頭

12 comments:

George said...

It's interesting that you believe the date of the film is from the 1950's, but actually the captions for both events put a date of 1965 on this film. The first event is the fire at the Hsin Sheng (New Life) Theater near HsiMenDing (Downtown West Gate District). The second event is a flood dated June 1965. Both captions have "Republic of China Year 54" as the date (1965). An early 60's large American car is seen early on. It's amazing that this film seems earlier, but that was the state of things then. I arrived in January 1965, so this video is fascinating to me. It's possible that the date in the captions is incorrect, but it must be that the scenes seem older than their actual date due to the black and white grainy quality of the film.

Don said...

That's what I get for posting something I can't read. My mistake.

Thanks for straightening it all out, George.

George said...

I don't blame you for thinking 1950's Don as the film has the look of the 1950's and the Japanese music gives it an older feel. The clues I see are the large American car appears to be early 60's near the beginning and some of the clothing and ladies hairstyles seem early 60's during the downtown scenes, but it's really hard to make out due to the film quality. Also, there could be mixed scenes from earlier dates, but it really looks older than actual due to the film quality. I would have assigned late 50's as well until I gave it a more detailed second look.

Misty said...

If you search the British Pathé news archives for Formosa you can find a lot of news reel footage from this era. I am sure it will be of interest to a lot of folks:

http://www.britishpathe.com/

Don said...

Misty, I really appreciate the link. I'll probably highlight some of those old newsreels in the future.

Stev said...

The motorized traffic in the film clip looked awfully heavy for the mid-50s. My memory of traffic in 1959-60 is that it was as much pedicabs and carts as motorized vehicles.

George, you mentioned a fire at the Shen (Hsin) Sheng Theater. I believe from looking at Google Earth that the Partyworld Building is at or near where the Shen Sheng was. I once asked the Taiwan Government Information Office if it had any information on what happened to the Shen Sheng, but I never got a response. Do you know what happned to it? Or Misty, maybe you know something about it.

Misty said...

Stev I don't know about the theatre sorry. The whole Shimending area has changed beyond recognition.

George said...

Stev,

Just going by the text captions in the video itself the fire is at the Shin(Hsin) Sheng Theater and the date is 1965. Also, in looking at the foot traffic, it also appears that most people are wearing jackets so I conclude this is during the Winter months (looking for clues as a detective would). I also seem to see ladies with the hairstyles from about 1964 but the film is washed out and hard to see the details. I remember going to Shin Sheng and Lux Theaters in 65 and 66 as they had the more recent movies versus the HSA Theater on the base. Perhaps it was quickly rebuilt following the fire, but that is all I can remember.

Stev said...

Misty & George,

Thanks for your responses. I guess I'll just have to wonder what happened to the Shen Sheng.

Shortly after I arrived in Taiwan in 1959, "The Big Country" with Gregory Peck and Jean Simmons was showing at the Shen Sheng. The Shen Sheng had entrances and ticket booths at all four corners of the building. I don't remember how long they held the movie there, but every time I was down town thinking of buying tickets people were lined up from corner to corner all around the building waiting to get in. I finally got tickets from my house boy.

There were several lesser theaters in the area near the Shen Sheng. There was another large (not as large as the Shen Sheng) theater called the Far East a little further away to the northwest of that area. I remember watching "South Pacific" there.

Victor said...

http://blog.udn.com/chuckwanwan/768505 1957/01 新生大樓落成,該棟內的新生戲院也在當月開幕(The Hsin Sheng Theater was open in Jan 1957.)
http://www.ttv.com.tw/news/tdcm/viewnews.asp?news=0110346 新生戲院大樓大火(A big fire at the Hsin Sheng Theater on Jan 19, 1966. 28 died and 23 injured. And the date, 119, is how the emergency number in Taiwan comes from.)
http://media.photobucket.com/image/%25E9%258C%25A2%25E6%25AB%2583%25E4%25B8%25AD%25E8%258F%25AF%25E6%2596%25B0%25E9%25A4%25A8/t9h1m8p2/541994085_add4b4e15f.jpg 錢櫃中華新館(Party World Karaoke, where the Hsin Sheng Theater was located.)

Stev said...

Thanks for the information Victor. The video of the fire, in the link you furnished, showed how extensive the damage was. For those of us who remember how nice the theater was, it's a pretty depressing sight.

On the other hand, the picture of the Party World Building in the link you furnished brings back good memories. As Misty said, the area has changed beyond recognition - almost. Looking at that picture, I can see myself 50 years ago standing in the same general area taking the picture shown here:

http://bp3.blogger.com/_LzsVxw2OVeM/SELbOrSBiDI/AAAAAAAAAk4/lr_x-j_9YT4/s1600-h/taiwan93.jpg

George said...

Thanks again Victor for the information. I guess I enjoy the role of playing "History Detective" as I knew the fire was in and around the month of January as people in the videos all wore jackets/coats which had to place the earlier videos in the Winter months.