Street Angel

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Zhou Xuan as Xiao Hong in Street Angel

Street Angel (马路天使 Mǎlù tiānshǐ) is a Chinese black-and-white film released in 1937. The film was directed by Yuan Muzhi and stars the popular singer Zhou Xuan.



The film deals with two sisters, Xiao Hong (Zhou Xuan) and Xiao Yun (Zhao Huishen) who have fled from the war in Northeast China to Shanghai, where they are living under the brutal thumb of their landlords. Xiao Yun has already been forced into prostitution while her sister serves as a teahouse singer. Soon the sisters realize that the landlords have decided to sell Xiao Hong to a wealthy patron, whereupon they seek the aid of their neighbors, a street musician, Xiao Chen (Zhao Dan), and his misfit friends.

Street Angel is often praised for its mix of melodrama and comedy. One sequence in particular, where Xiao Chen and his friends attempt to act as barbers reveals a moment of slapstick or physical comedy in the otherwise dreary third act.


Praised for its portrayal of the downtrodden in Shanghai at the time of its release, today, Street Angel is often considered one of the classics of the "leftist" filmmaking period that reached its peak in the 1930s. It was selected as one of the Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures by the 24th Hong Kong Film Awards, ranked 11th.

Cast and roles

  • Zhou Xuan - Xiao Hong
  • Zhao Huishen - Xiao Yun, Xiao Hong's older sister
  • Zhao Dan - Chen Shaoping, aka. Xiao Chen, Xiao Hong's boyfriend. A trumpet player who lives across the alley
  • Wei Heling - Wang, the newspaper seller and Chen's best friend

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