Have library access?
  • Journals
  • OpenAccess

Comicality in Long Live the Mistress and the Making of a Chinese Comedy of Manners



This paper examines Wenhua Studio's 1947 film Long Live the Mistress, an exemplary collaboration between Sang Hu and Zhang Ailing, from the perspective of comedy of manners. More specifically, it explores how the scriptwriter Zhang Ailing has modified the Western model of comedy of manners in consideration of the film's targeted Chinese audiences. The analysis is divided into three parts. The first part discusses both Sang Hu's and Zhang Ailing's emphasis on comedy, analyzing in detail how the former's use of close-ups, mise-en-scene, and non-diegetic sound as well as the latter's application of techniques such as conflicts, coincidences, suspense, contrasts, contradictions, and twists in the storyline, have contributed to the film's comicality. The second part delves into some of Zhang Ailing's essays. It points out that both convincing characterization and attention to Chinese context, in Zhang's view, are key elements for great Chinese films. It also explains how Zhang's characterization in Long Live the Mistress can be see as a parody of the May Fourth radicalism and traditional "talent and beauty" romance. The third part compares the comicality of Long Live the Mistress with the Hollywood screwball comedies, analyzing the film's various characteristics that make it a good example of Chinese comedy of manners. It concludes that Zhang's characterization in Long Live the Mistress echoes with her fictional writing, as social-historical problems are omitted and individual experience highlighted. It, too, posits that comedy provides Zhang a form through which individual sorrows can be effectively articulated. It is within Zhang's desolate aesthetics and urban middle-class viewpoint that the comic vision of Long Live the Mistress should be understood. This understanding revises previous scholarship hailing the female protagonist Chen Sizhen as a triumphant embodiment of women's power.

Parallel abstracts



Burchfield, R. W.(ed.)(1972).A Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary.Oxford:Clarendon P.
Butcher, S. H., ed. and trans. The Poetics of Aristotle. 4th edition. London: Macmillan, 1936. Print
Burge, Duane,Miller, Robert Milton(1991).The Screwball Comedy Films: A History and Filmography, 1934-1942.London:St. James P.
(1998)。超前與跨越:胡金銓與張愛玲。Hong Kong International Film Festival。