'Showtime 1958' Review: Netflix movie takes you back to the golden age of Malaysian cinema

'Showtime 1958' Review: Netflix movie takes you back to the golden age of Malaysian cinema
A still from 'Showtime 1958' (Netflix)

Netflix is famous for its impressive international catalog and that has been one of the main reasons why the streaming platform is hit with its viewers. Thanks to Netflix, projects such as the 'Squid game', 'Money Heist', and ‘Dark’ are all internationally acclaimed and the viewers get to explore a world outside the United States, with genres spanning from drama to comedy to thriller.

Netflix has released another international movie in its library called 'Showtime 1958’. The movie is a two-hour historical drama inspired by true events, featuring stories that unfold during a 24-hour period which takes place during a crucial time for the Malay film industry based in the Jalan Ampas Studio which was owned by Shaw Brothers. The movie revolves around how director P Ramlee organizes a variety show to raise funds for fellow performers who lost their jobs before Eid.


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P Ramlee names the concert ‘PERSAMA’s Night of Happiness and Sorrow’ which is suitable as the whole movie reveals its character going through financial hardships who later finds happiness and hope in the concert. The stories are told through events that took place over a period of twenty-four hours on an important date for the stars at the Jalan Ampas Studio at the time. The movie has aspects of romance, music, comedy, and tragedy and gives the viewers a glimpse of the Malay cinema of the 1950s. The first half of the movie depicts the hardships faced by local artists in Singapore as they couldn’t find any work due to the emergence of black and white television as an alternative source of entertainment as well as the influx of foreign films into local cinema.

As a help for the artists, P Ramlee takes charge and decides to hold a concert that will raise funds for the actors who have lost their jobs. The second half features the concert and is filled with singing, dancing, comedy acts, and a pageant contest. One of the highlights of the second half is the composition of the iconic Selamat Hari Raya song by P Ramlee and Jamil Sulong. Amai Kamarudin who plays P Ramlee leads the movie and gives a candid portrayal of the prominent icon of Malay entertainment.

Amai Kamarudin as P Ramlee  (Netflix)

Debutante Yna Rose Noah as Puspayanti also deserves praise as she plays a vulnerable character who has to face many hardships. Her emotional scenes with her siblings as they lament their financial crisis are heart-touching. We hope to see more of the actress in the future.

Yna Rose Noah (L) as Puspayanti (Netlfix)

The costumes sponsored by Couture Classic deserve special mention as they display the glitz and glamor of the Malay cinema. The movie is a musical feast and the music produced by Raja Iskandar Raja Ibrahim and Ebby Saiful Ali is the soul of the film.
All in all, ‘Showtime 1958’ is a visually stunning periodic film. The movie gives a glimpse of the Malay film industry that not a lot of people are aware of. Written and directed by Anwardi Jamil, 'Showtime 1958' is a tribute to Anwardi’s late father, filmmaker Datuk Jamil Sulong, and also the early film stars and singers. It is inspired by true events which Jamil shared with him over the years. If you are interested in a musical periodic film, make sure to watch the film on Netflix.

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