Civil War is raging across China, and time is running out for the inhabitants of a Shanghai row house. The corrupt official and his kept woman in the penthouse want to evict everyone and sell the place for gold before fleeing the country. Who will stay and who will go?
Crows and Sparrows is one of the most finely-crafted films of the 1940s, with a tight script and brilliant character acting. Production began before and ended after the People’s Liberation Army entered Shanghai near the end of the civil war, in May 1949. The film bears clear traces of this history, especially the expressions of optimism by two intellectual characters at the end.
Wuya yu maque
Alternative English title: House and Tea Money
Director: Zheng Junli
Screenplay: Chen Baichen, Shen Fu, Xu Tao, Zhao Dan, Zheng Junli
Studio: The Peak Film Industries Corp., Ltd. (Kunlun)
Year of production: 1949
Cast: Zhao Dan, Wu Yin, Wei Heling, Shangguan Yunzhu, Sun Daolin, Li Tianji, Huang Zongying, Li Baoluo
English subtitles translated by Christopher Rea
See the video lectures and other materials in the Crows and Sparrows (1949) module of the Chinese Film Classics online course.
Watch director Zheng Junli’s two-part Civil War-era film Spring River Flows East (1947), featured in the Chinese Film Classics online course.