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Film marked with * are still extant today.
For associated visual document see visual narrative Filmography.

1. The Couple in Name (挂名夫妻 Guaming fuqi) (1926)

Mingxing, dir. Bu Wancang, sc. Zheng Zhengqiu, with Gong Jianong

Zhong Shaowen (Ruan Lingyu) discovered the night of her wedding that the young man her family had chosen for her is mentally retarded. But when she fell sick, his devotion to her convinced her to stay with him.

2. Imperial Concubine Yang of Beijing (北京杨贵妃Beijing Yang Guifei) aka Yang Xiaozhen 楊小真 (1927)

Mingxing, dir., sc. Zheng Zhengqiu

Ruan Lingyu is Yang Xiaoyue; she plays a small role, the leading actress of the movie is Yang Naimei in the role of Yang Xiaozhen, a famous Beijing courtesan.

3. The tablet of Blood and Tears (血泪碑 Xuelei bei) (1927)

Mingxing, dir., sc. Zheng Zhengqiu, Ding Ziming

Ruan Lingyu is Liang Sibao the older sister of Liang Sizhen (played by Ding Yuming). Sibao will try to seduce her sister’s fiance, ending up killing herself when her bad action are discovered.

4. The Luoyang Bridge 洛陽橋 (蔡狀元建造洛陽橋 Cai Zhuangyuan jianzao Luoyang qiao) (1928)

Mingxing, dir. Zhang Shichuan

After a Song dynasty tale about the building of Luoyang bridge. Ruan Lingyu is Wang Yongxu the daughter of the statesman Wang Yongwang. She is married to general Cai, a talented, extraordinary man who will manage to build the bridge with the help of Gods and Deities.

5. White-Cloud Pagoda (白云塔 Baiyun da) (1928)

Mingxing, dir. Zheng Zhengqiu and Zhang Shichuan, with Hu Die

Ruan Lingyu is Pu Luji, a bad girl who is trying to attract and corrupt Qiu Fengzi (Hu Die)’s lover. When she is discovered, she kills herself by jumping from the top of the White Pagoda.

6. Warning for the Lovers (情欲宝鉴 Qingyu baojian) (1929)

Da Zhonghua Baihe, dir. Li Pingqian, with Zheng Yiduo

A young woman loves secretly a painter. When he marries another woman, she decides to kill him. She pours some wine in his cup but when he is ready to drink, she takes the cup, drinks it and dies.

7. Flower of the silver screen 银幕之花 (Yinmu zhi hua) (1929)

Da Zhonghua Baihe, dir. Zheng Qifeng, with Zheng Jiduo

No script available

8. A hat with pearl 珍珠冠 (Zhenzhu guan) (1930)

Da Zhonghua Baihe, dir. Zhu Shouju

No script available

9. A Woman’s heart 妇人心 (Furen xin) (1929) aka Da bi Jiulong wang 大破九龍王

Da Zhonghua-Baihe, Zhu Shouju.

No script available, martial art film.

10. The Mountain of the Dragon Woman 女龙山 (Nulong shan) (1929) aka Huoshao Jiulong shan 火燒九龍山

Da Zhonghua Baihe, dir. Zhu Shouju.

No script available, martial art film.

11.A Lonely Goose 劫后孤鸿 (Jiehou guhong) (1929)

Da Zhonghua-Baihe, dir. Li Pingqian

No script available.

All the films below were made by the Lianhua film company.

12. Spring dream in the old capital 古都春夢 (Gudu chunmeng) (1930)

Dir. Sun Yu, sc. Luo Mingyou, with Lin Chuchu, Chen Yanyan

A small rank official in Beijing during the warlord period seeks fortune. He meets a courtesan (Ruan Lingyu) who pushes him to abandon his wife and daughters. But when he gets arrested for corruption she leaves him and he goes back to his family house, asking for forgiveness.

13. Suicide contract 自杀合同(Zisha hetong) (1930)

Dir, sc. Zhu Shilin. with Chen Yanyan, Liu Jijun. Comedy

Ruan Lingyu is the wife of a young man who is trying to avenge his father by hiring suicide candidates.

14.Wild Flowers by the Road 野草閒花 (Yecao xianhua)(1930)

Dir., sc. Sun Yu, with Jin Yan

Lilian is a poor orphan who meets the son of a rich family, Huang Yun. Huang Yun discovers that Lilian has a magnificent voice and trains her to become a famous singer. They love each other but Huang Yun’s father does not want to hear about wedding. He manages to convince Lilian to let Huang go (like Camille did for Armand). But few years later, while she is singing on stage, Lilian loses her voice. Huang Yun learns about the news and leaves again the father home to be reunited with Lilian.

15.* Love and duty 戀愛與義務 (Lian’ai yu yiwu) (1931)

Sc. Zhu Shilin from a novel by Susan Horose (Luo Chen), dir. Bu Wancang, with Jin Yan, Chen Yanyan

The young Yang Naifen (Ruan Lingyu) meets on the way to school Li Zuyi (Jin Yan). They fall in love but Naifen’s father gives her to another man, Huang Daren. Few years later, Zuyi saves Naifen’s young boy from drowning in a park. The two start to meet again and love comes back. Naifen agrees to leave her home to follow Zuyi even if she is desperate to abandon her children. Naifen and Zuyi are now together, a daughter is born, but their life is more and more difficult, Zuyi does not find a decent job and dies of exhaustion. Naifen stays alone to bring up her daughter, Ping’er. Years later, she has a chance to see again her children and to sacrifice her life for Ping’er happiness.  

16.* A Spray of Plum Blossom 一剪梅 (Yi jian mei) (1931)

Sc. Huang Yicuo, from a play by Shakespeare (Two gentlemen of Verona), dir. Bu Wancang, with Jin Yan

A modern play with two couples, adventure and treachery set in Southern China in lavish art deco settings.

17. *The Peach Girl 桃花泣血記 (Taohua qixue ji) (1931)

Sc./dir. Bu Wancang with Jin Yan.

The story of the tragic love between a country girl Lingu (Ruan Lingyu) and a son of a Gentry family De’en (Jin Yan). Lingu dies with their daughter, in misery, and only after she is dead De’en mother accepts to see her as a daughter in law.

18. The Story of Sue San 玉堂春 (Yu tang chun) (1931)

Sc. Zhu Shilin, sc. Zhang Guojun, with Li Ying

From a traditional opera play.

19.  Spring dream in the old capital, sequel 續故都春夢 (Xu gudu chunmeng) (1932)

Sc. Zhu Shilin, dir. Bu Wancang

Sequel of the 1930 film.

20. Three modern women 三個摩登女性 (San ge modeng nüxing) (1933)

Sc. Tian Han, dir. Bu Wancang with Jin Yan

The story of three women: Zhou Shuzhen (Ruan Lingyu), a college educated woman who works as a telephone operator and becomes the leader of a strike, Yu Yu (Li Zhuozhuo), attracted by easy money and comfortable life and the movie fan Chen Ruoying (Chen Yanyan) who will kill herself when she is turned up by the movie star she loves.

21.City Nights 城市之夜 (Chengshi zhi ye) (1933)

 Sc. He Mengfu, Feng Zichi, dir. Fei Mu, 1933

This is the story of a poor family in the shantytown of Shanghai. The father works on the dock (Wang Kuilin) while is daughter (Ruan Lingyu) is working in a filature factory. A capitalist family is trying to harm them.

22.*Little Toys 小玩義 (Xiao Wanyi) (1933)

Sc., dir. Sun Yu, with Jin Yan, Li Lili.

Sister Ye is a toymaker in a small village near Shanghai. Despite her cleverness, life does not spare her: she loses her husband, her young boy is stolen to her and she has to take refuge in Shanghai during the warlord period. The industry of toy hits her business. When her older daughter gets killed during the Shanghai war, Sister Ye loses her mind.

23.Humanity 人生 (Rensheng) (1934)

Sc. Zhong Shigen, dir. Fei Mu. With Zheng Junli, Lin Chuchu, Li Keng

Luliu Qianhua (Ruan Lingyu) is a poor orphan living a miserable life of exploitation. She meets Zheng Jun (Zheng Junli) a professor looking for a better future in Shanghai and despite the fact he is already married, they start to live together and have a baby. Luliu pushes Zheng Jun to steal money and the poor man, desperate, commits suicide after having asked his previous wife to take care of his boy. Luliu goes back to her old life of prostitution. When she becomes old and unattractive, she is chased away by her son in law. She wants to find back her own child but does not have the courage to approach him and dies in the street.

24. *Return (歸來 Guilai) (1934)

Sc./dir. Zhu Shilin with Gao Zhanfei, Niji Dina

A young couple gets separated during the Shanghai war: the husband is in the South Sea and believes his wife had been killed. He remarried with a Westerner and goes back in China with her only to discover his previous wife is still alive. The Western woman decides to leave the old couple together and goes back to her country.

25. A See of Fragrant Snow 香雪海 (Xiangxue hai) (1934)

Sc./dir. Fei Mu, with Gao Zhanfei

A couple of peasants leave a hard life in the mountains during the warlord period. He joins the revolutionary troops and she stays alone with her son who fell ill. She makes a vow to Buddha that if her husband comes back and if her child is saved she will become a nun. So when her husband comes back from the Northern expedition and when her child is cured, she leaves them for a monastery. Her son comes to get her back to the family life.

26. *Goodbye Shanghai! 再會吧,上海 (Zaihui ba, Shanghai)

Sc./dir. Guan Yunbo (1934)

A young and educated woman Bai Lu (Ruan Lingyu) on her way to Shanghai meets the boat’s lieutenant, Huang Hanxiu (Zhang Yi). They become good friends and decide to see each other again next time he is in Shanghai. Bai Lu in Shanghai lives at her aunt’s, Ms Wang (Tang Tianxiu), a rich lady with a crooked daughter, surrounded by men who are interested in her social position. One of them is the famous doctor Liu Guanghui (He Feiguang). One day, as Bai Lu fell sick she goes to see him for treatment but the man rapes her. Bai Lu becomes pregnant and is more or less kept prisoner by her aunt’s house. When Hanxiu comes to visit her, he is not allowed to see her. Finally Bai Lu escapes and ends up making a living as a dancer in nightclub. She becomes rich and famous. But she will eventually live Shanghai, a place too corrupted for her.

27. *The Goddess 神女 (Shennü) (1934)

Sc. et dir. Wu Yonggang, with Zhang Zhizhi, Li Keng

A Shanghai prostitute and mother of a baby tries to free herself from an evil pimp. The society rejects her, except for the schoolteacher of her son. She ends up killing the pimp who had stolen all of her saving. She us sentenced to twelve years in prison, but the school principal promises to take care of her child while she is in jail: a light of hope comes to her.

28. *New Women 新女性 (Xin nüxing) (1934)

Sc. Sun Shiyi, dir. Cai Chusheng, sonorized. With Zheng Junli.

Weiming is a young educated woman, abandoned by her husband, who is making a living as a music teacher in Shanghai while her young daughter is taken care of by Weiming’s sister. Weiming is also a writer trying to publish her first novel. The editor agrees to publish her novel because she is an attractive young woman and one member of the board of her school makes a pass to her. She rejects him and as a result he manage to have her fired. Just at that moment her daughter and sister arrive in town. Weiming is facing a difficult economical situation, her daughter fell ill and she does not have enough money to take her to the hospital. Reluctantly she decides to prostitute herself for one night but when she finds out that her client is D. Wang, she runs away. Her daughter pass away and Weiming kills herself with sleeping pills. At the hospital, she learns the newspapers are spreading bad gossips about her and decides she wants to live to fight back. But it is too late: she dies.

29.* Soul of China 國風 (Guofeng) (1935)

Sc. Luo Mingyou, dir. Zhu Shilin et Luo Mingyou, with Li Lili, Zheng Junli, Lin Chuchu.

This movie was made to support the New Life movement launched by Chiang Jieshi in 1934. This is the story of two sisters, one serious, patriotic, ready to learn hard to help China and the other (Li Lili), attracted by the modern and superfluous world. She will eventually reform herself and join the New Life movement.

Last update Wednesday 27 May 2015 by G. Foliot