Explore the Golden Age of Chinese Cinema Through These Movie Magazinesairport_transferbarbathtubbusiness_facilitieschild_activitieschildcareconnecting_roomcribsfree_wifigymhot_tubinternetkitchennon_smokingpetpoolresturantski_in_outski_shuttleski_storagesmoking_areaspastar

Explore the Golden Age of Chinese Cinema Through These Movie Magazines

Chinese Movie Magazines
Chinese Movie Magazines | © Paul Kendel Fonoroff Collection for Chinese Film Studies, C. V. Starr East Asian Library, University of California, Berkeley
Chinese Movie Magazines 1921-1951: From Charlie Chaplin to Chairman Mao is a new photo book that captures the glamour of Chinese cinema, offering a rare insight into popular culture during the golden ages of Shanghai and Hollywood.

“When I started collecting old Chinese movie magazines over 30 years ago, it was both a labor of love and a matter of necessity,” says collector Paul Fonoroff. “As a grad student researching Chinese cinema in Beijing in the early 1980s, I quickly discovered that magazines dated before the Communist victory of 1949 were ‘off-limits’ to foreign students.” Now, however, his prints form the basis of the new photo book.

'Wha Jet Engraving', issue 2 (left); 'Art Forum', issue 2 © Paul Kendel Fonoroff Collection for Chinese Film Studies, C. V. Starr East Asian Library, University of California, Berkeley

The collection of magazines Fonoroff has assembled highlights how global megastars of the time, such as Charlie Chaplin, would feature alongside local celebrities such as “movie empress” Butterfly Wu – the star of the first movie containing spoken Chinese dialogue – and Hu Rongrong, who was known as the Chinese Shirley Temple.

Charlie Chaplin's first Chinese magazine appearance; a Butterfly Wu cover © Paul Kendel Fonoroff Collection for Chinese Film Studies, C. V. Starr East Asian Library, University of California, Berkeley

Putting together such a collection wasn’t easy. “I began searching the second-hand bookstores and flea market stalls, not only in Beijing and Shanghai but also such far-flung locales as Bangkok, Penang, and Singapore, where Chinese-language cinema had a huge overseas ethnically Chinese audience who were also fans of movie magazines in their native tongue,” Fonoroff reveals.

His collection – which includes more than 500 full-colour covers, many of which aren’t even available in Chinese archives – grew to include thousands of issues of entertainment publications such as original magazines of the 1920s, souvenir booklets, movie newspapers, theatre pamphlets and much more.

“Together, they presented a portrait of the era’s entertainment press that doubled as a window into the film industries of both China and the then British colony of Hong Kong, also a major filmmaking centre,” Fonoroff explains.

'Silver Screen' (left), featuring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon; 'Screen Voice' © Paul Kendel Fonoroff Collection for Chinese Film Studies, C. V. Starr East Asian Library, University of California, Berkeley

The magazines “serve as a guide to the nation’s cinema during its formative decades, from silent pictures through the talkie revolution and concluding with the Communist Revolution.”

Chinese Movie Magazines 1921 -1951: From Charlie Chaplin to Chairman Mao is released in hardback on 13 September