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Ma-Xu Weibang (simplified Chinese: 马徐维邦; traditional Chinese: 馬徐維邦; pinyin: Mǎ-Xú Wéibāng; 1905–1961) was a Chinese film director active in mainland China from the 1920s to 1940s, and later in Hong Kong, perhaps best known for his work in the horror genre, the most important unarguably being The Phantom of the Opera-inspired, Song at Midnight. Ma-Xu was also known for a few acting roles early in his career, as well as for being a screenwriter. The director of 33 known films, much of Ma-Xu's early work has been lost.

Ma-Xu was born Xu Weibang in 1905 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. Little is known of this early period except that his parents died while Ma-Xu was still a child, which was said to influence his decision to incorporate his wife's surname, "Ma".[1]


Career in filmEdit

Ma-Xu studied at the Shanghai Institute of Fine Arts in the early 1920s. Following his graduation, he began working as an actor for the Mingxing Film Company, his first film being Zhang Shichuan's The Marriage Trap in 1924.[1] Following a brief stint in the short-lived Langhua Film Company where he directed his first film in 1926, Ma-Xu returned to Mingxing where he began serving as assistant directors for some of the more established talent.[1] His thriller, The Cry of Apes in a Deserted Valley is the only one of these directorial efforts to have survived.[1]

Ma-Xu's first real success, however, did not come until 1937 with Song at Midnight, often referred to as China's first horror film. Based on Gaston Leroux's classic novel The Phantom of the Opera, the film is now seen as part of the canon of early Chinese cinema, and was also remade as The Phantom Lover by Ronny Yu in 1996. Ma-Xu followed up Song with two additional horror films, Walking Corpse in an Old House (1938) and The Lonely Soul (1938). In 1941, he made a lackluster sequel to Song at Midnight (during the height of the Second Sino-Japanese War), and also co-directed with Bu Wancang the controversial Japanese propaganda film Eternity (also known as The Opium War).

Like Bu, Ma-Xu suffered for his work on The Opium War after the Japanese were defeated and was eventually forced to move to Hong Kong where he continued to work in the film business until 1961, when he was killed in a road accident.[2]


Note: in most early Chinese films, there often were no official English translations, leading to a sometimes confusing lack of consistency in titles.

Year English Title Chinese Title Notes
1926 The Love Freak Qing chang guai ren Presumed lost
1928 Freak in the Night Hei ye guai ren Presumed lost
1929 The Devil Incarnate Hun shi mo wang Presumed lost
1930 The Cry of Apes in a Deserted Valley Kong gu yuan sheng
1934 Pear Blossom in the Storm 暴雨梨花 Presumed lost
1934 Prison of Love Ai yu Presumed lost
1935 Han jiang luo yan
1937 Song at Midnight 夜半歌聲
1938 Walking Corpse in an Old House Gu wu xing shi ji
1938 The Lonely Soul Leng yue shi hun
1939 Ma feng nu 麻瘋女
1940 Diao Liu shi
1941 Song at Midnight, Part II 夜半歌聲續集
1941 Xian dai qing nian
1942 Yuan yang lei
1943 Eternity 萬世流芳
1943 Qiu Haitang
1947 Tian luo di wang
1947 Chun can meng duan 春殘夢斷
1949 Mei yan qin wang
1949 A Maid's Bitter Story 瓊樓恨 Also known as The Haunted House
1954 Blood Stained Flowers Bi xue huang hua
1955 Xin yu guang qu
1956 Wo xin chang dan 臥薪嘗膽 Also known as Dangerous Beauty or

Beauty of the Beauties[3]

1956 Ghost at Midnight 午夜魂歸 Also known as Foggy Night, Fright Night
1957 The Resurrected Rose Fu huo de mei gui
1957 Booze, Boobs, and Bucks 酒色財氣
1958 Young Vagabond 流浪兒 Also known as The Vagabond Boy
1958 Hong fu si ben
1959 The Lovers and the Python 毒蟒情鴛


  1. ^ a b c d Robinson, David (Winter 1999–2000), "Return of the Phantom", Film Quarterly, 53 (2): 43, doi:10.2307/1213720
  2. ^ Well-known chinese film director dies. (1961, Feb 15). South China Morning Post (1946-Current) Retrieved from ProQuest Historical Newspapers: South China Morning Post
  3. ^ Film Screenings

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