6.6/10
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62 user 27 critic

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)

A widowed doctor of both Chinese and European descent falls in love with a married American correspondent in Hong Kong during China's Communist revolution.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
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Won 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Humphrey Palmer-Jones
Isobel Elsom ...
Adeline Palmer-Jones
...
Dr. John Keith
...
Anne Richards
...
Robert Hung
Soo Yong ...
Nora Hung
Philip Ahn ...
Third Uncle
...
Suzanne
...
Suchen, Suyin's sister
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Storyline

Newsman Mark Elliott is an American war correspondent in Hong Kong, separated from his wife. During the closing days of the Chinese Civil War, he meets and pursues a beautiful Eurasian doctor, the widow of a Nationalist general. But when they begin to fall in love, their friends and her Chinese family pressure them to stop the cross-cultural relationship. Written by Brian W Martz <B.Martz@Genie.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The price they pay when they come out of their secret garden and face the world in modern-day Hong Kong - makes this one of the screen's unforgettable experiences! See more »


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

26 September 1955 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Alle Herrlichkeit auf Erden  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,780,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording) (optical prints)| (Western Electric Recording) (magnetic prints)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jennifer Jones reportedly complained incessantly. Among other topics, she felt that her makeup made her look old. This might explain why the "yellowface" prosthetics (to make her eyes seem Asian) vary from shot to shot. Sometimes they're very obvious, and other times she seems not to be wearing them at all. See more »

Goofs

When the orderly comes to get Dr. Han in the operating room at the beginning of the movie, one of the members of the film crew (a man wearing glasses) can be seen reflected in the window of the right-hand door to the O.R. See more »

Quotes

Mark Elliott: Are we going swimming?
Dr. Han Suyin: Mark, going out with you once was harmless enough. I don't want my seeing you to be awkward. Hong Kong has a peculiar code and malice is a pleasant pastime for women with nothing to do.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Never the Twain: Love Is a Many-Splendoured Thing (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
Music by Sammy Fain
Performed by Chorus
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Poignant Doomed Romance
21 January 2005 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

"Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" is set in Hong Kong in 1949-50, and tells the story of the relationship between Mark Elliott, a white American journalist, and Han Suyin, a half-Chinese half-European doctor. This story of a mixed-race love affair was quite a daring theme for the fifties, and, as it often did, Hollywood tried to soften the blow by casting a white actress as the supposedly non-Caucasian woman who falls in love with a white man, something that would be regarded as politically incorrect today but was quite acceptable then.. (Think, for example, of the casting of Ava Gardner in "Show Boat" or Natalie Wood in "West Side Story") The setting of the story in a British colony was also perhaps a way of exploring racial issues in a way that would cause less controversy in America. Suyin loses her job in a Hong Kong hospital because her British superiors take exception to the fact that she is dating a white man, whom she is unable to marry because his estranged wife will not grant him a divorce. As was sometimes the case, European colonialism was made the whipping-boy for some of America's own failings. Imagine the furore that would have been unleashed had a similar film been made about a black or mixed-race woman doctor in a hospital in Alabama.

Besides racial issues, the film also raises questions of international politics, referring to both the Communist seizure of power in China and the outbreak of the Korean War. Han Suyin was a real person and a well-known author of the period; in reality she tended to support Mao's Communist regime, but here she is shown as firmly anti-Communist. This is not, however, primarily an "issue" movie about either racialism or politics, but rather a romance, a good example of what would have been known at the time as a "woman's picture". Such films, although mostly made by male directors, were mostly aimed at female audiences. They dealt with love and romance- often unhappy romance- from the woman's point of view, and had a strong female character in the leading role. The genre often provided roles for actresses older than the heroines of standard romances. Earlier examples were normally in monochrome, but by the fifties they generally, as here, used lush, sumptuous colour.

Although a Chinese or Eurasian actress would have been more convincing in the role, Jennifer Jones, does a very good job as Suyin. I found William Holden, as Mark, rather uncharismatic, but this does not matter much as Suyin is very much the dominant figure. She is screen much more than Mark, and the film examines her family and professional life much more than it does his. Although Jennifer was still strikingly beautiful, she was in her mid-thirties, rather older than most romantic heroines of films of this period. Holden was about the same age, unusually for the fifties when "boy-meets-girl" often meant "older man meets girl".

The film is not particularly profound, but is well-made with some attractive photography, particularly of Hong Kong itself, reflecting the growing trend in the fifties for shooting on location rather than on studio sets. Seldom can Hong Kong have looked so beautiful; the view from a hill overlooking the city takes on a special meaning, as this is where Suyin and Mark go for their romantic assignments. The overall mood is one of poignant, doomed romance, a mood heightened by the atmospheric photography and the musical score, including one of the most memorable movie themes ever written. 7/10


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