Apartment for Ladies (1970)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2008-11-20
Yau Suk Man (Betty Ting Pei) shows up from Taipei looking for her sister who has disappeared into the urban wilds of Hong Kong, having been brought to the Crown Colony by a man who claimed he would get her work singing in a nightclub. She has a difficult introduction to Hong Kong—the address she has for her sister is a cemetery in a rural area. Her cabbie leaves here there and while trying to figure things out she is set up by two thugs who want to rape her. She is truly a babe (in both senses) in the woods and winds up sharing an apartment with a disparate and sophisticated group of women including a stripper, a private tutor who only works at night and a secretary, similarly on the evening shift. There are a few catfights, some boyfriend stealing and more than a little walking around the apartment wearing in dishabille. A collective problem the ladies face is the theft of their lingerie when left on the outside laundry lines to dry. Men are strictly prohibited from entering the apartment by Mrs. Chen, its owner, who keeps a watch that would rival Cerberus and who has installed a jail like set of bars between the front door and the rest of the place. Mrs. Chen’s son has a room but is kept away by the another set of prison type bars. Since men aren’t allowed in the apartment they are a constant subject of discussion by the tenants.

Musical numbers are well integrated. Yau Suk Man is a singer as is her missing sister and a number of the ladies are performers, including a singer and a back-up maraca player who are rivals for the same club owner. Much of the action takes place in the nightclub. The girls’ downstairs neighbor is a composer who has fallen for Suk Man and who rescued her from the men assaulting her earlier. He courts her with a song that she sings back to him.

There is much of the usual hiding under beds and behind doorways, dressing in drag and mistaken identity that has characterized sex comedies for centuries, generally well done and as convincing as it needs to be. Suk Man’s quest for her sister is the thread that runs through the movie and ties its parts together and by the end to the movie good has triumphed, evil punished and the power of sisterhood affirmed.