Singapore Film Locations Archive

Sergeant Hassan (1958)

Directed by Lamberto V. Avellana
Written by Ralph Modder (story)
Language: Malay
Starring: P. Ramlee, Saadiah, Jins Shamsuddin
Produced by Malay Film Productions (Shaw Bros.)

Film Locations:
Kampong, kopitiam(coffeeshop)
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
Malay Regiment in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan

 

Set during World War Two and the Japanese Occupation in Malaya and Singapore, Hassan (P. Ramlee) is an adopted child whose foster brother Aziz (Jins Shamsuddin) taunts him for not having the mettle to join the army to fight the invading Japanese. With his friends (who like hang out at the village ‘kopitam‘), Aziz soon signs up for the Malay Regiment in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, not out of genuine patriotism, but more for vanity and self-interest.

(They depart Singapore by train from the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. The film was also partly shot on-location in Port Dickson, with actual military personnel from the Malay Regiment appearing as extras.)

Hassan, who is initially apathetic and required by his foster father to help out in the plantation at home, cannot stand being looked down upon and leaves his adopted home and kampong secretly to join the Malay Regiment on his own. His performance in the military force is outstanding and he is promptly promoted to take on a leadership role. He and his soldiers fight bravely in battle but British Malaya and Singapore falls to the Japanese after all. Hassan subsequently escapes from a prisoner-of-war camp to join an Englishman-led guerilla unit (a loose reference to Force 136, the special operations force that had then-managed to infiltrate Japanese-occupied Malaya).

 

_01-Sgt-Hassan-Kampong

 

_02-Sgt-Hassan-Kampong-Kopitiam _03-Sgt-Hassan-Kampong-Kopitiam _04-Sgt-Hassan-Kampong-Kopitiam

 

 

_06-Sgt-Hassan-Tg-Pagar-Railway-Station _07-Sgt-Hassan-Tg-Pagar-Railway-Station _08-Sgt-Hassan-Tg-Pagar-Railway-Station-Malayan-Railway-564.18

 

The film was directed by Filipino expatriate Lamberto V. Avellana (of Anak Dalita and Badjau fame). P. Ramlee reportedly made amendments to the finished film, re-edited certain scenes and added song sequences, as the original version by Avellana was considered “inappropriate” (according to Jamil Sulong’s account). Nevertheless, the more reputable Avellana eventually took full directorial credit. The story was written by Perak-born Ralph Modder, a former sports reporter for English newspapers in Singapore. After Sergeant Hassan, which was likely his first film story, Ralph Modder would contribute at least another seven stories/scripts to either Shaw Brothers’ Malay Film Productions or Maria Menado Productions to be made into films.

 

Further Reading:
1. ‘Filipino Na’ Arah FilmShaw’. Berita Harian. 15 April 1958, p. 2.
2. ‘Perang Lawan Jepun Di-hutan dalam Film Melayu Baharu’. Berita Harian. 16 May 1958, p. 7.
3. ‘Drama in the jungle has on-the-spot realism’. The Singapore Free Press. 30 August 1958, p. 6.
4. ‘P. Ramlee bashes naughty Nips’. The Straits Times. 31 August 1958, p .13.
5. Brigadier John Gray, ‘Memories of P Ramlee and the filming of Sgt Hassan’ in Climbing the Army Ladder (Annex B), Bloomington: Xlibris, 2010.
6. ‘菲名导演兰伯多应邵氏聘来星拍英雄哈山 描写游击队抗日事迹’. Sin Chew Jit Poh 星洲日报. 15 April 1958, p. 8.
7. Malay Regiment. Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board, 2011.
8. Force 136 (Operation Gustavus in Malaya). Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board, 2014.
9. Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board, 2007.

Film Images:
© 1958 Malay Film Productions
© 2002 Music Valley

 

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