The World of Suzie Wong


2h 9m 1961
The World of Suzie Wong

Brief Synopsis

A Hong Kong streetwalker tries modeling and falls for the artist who's painting her.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Feb 1961
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York: 10 Nov 1960; Great Britian opening: 14 Dec 1960; Los Angeles opening: 16 Dec 1960
Production Company
Paramount British Pictures, Ltd.; World Enterprises, Inc.; Worldfilm, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Elstree, England, Great Britain; Hong Kong
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The World of Suzie Wong by Paul Osborn, originally directed by Joshua Logan and produced by David Merrick, Seven Arts Productions, Inc. and Mansfield Productions, Inc. (New York, 14 Oct 1958) and the novel The World of Suzie Wong by Richard Mason (Cleveland, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 9m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Film Length
11,332ft (13 reels)

Synopsis

When American Robert Lomax boards the ferry to Hong Kong, where he is going to start a new life as an artist, he sketches a striking Chinese woman. At first the young woman spurns his advances but she soon warms to him, telling him that her name is Mee Ling and that her father is wealthy. When the ferry lands, Robert attempts to follow Mee Ling but loses her in the crowd. He then proceeds to the Wanchai district, despite a policeman's warning that it is impoverished and disreputable. Robert is charmed by the bustling street life, however, and soon sees Mee Ling exiting the Nam Kok Hotel. When he inquires inside, the hotel owner, Ah Tong, replies that he does not know any Mee Ling, but responds excitedly to Robert's request to rent a room. Unknown to Robert, the hotel is the working quarters for prostitutes, known as "Wanchai girls," who solicit sailors and businessmen in the adjoining bar. Robert then wanders into the bar, where he sees Mee Ling, now dressed in a revealing dress, and Gwenny Lee, a Wanchai girl with whom Robert is chatting, reveals that the woman is actually Suzie Wong, the bar's most popular girl. When Robert approaches Suzie, she declares that she has never met him, even when he shows her the sketch he drew of her. Suzie finally admits that he is right, however, telling Robert that she likes to pretend that she is someone else. Suzie asks Robert if he wants her to be his "permanent girl friend," but Robert responds that he cannot afford her, despite his attraction to her. The next day, Robert calls on British banker O'Neill, to whom he explains that he grew tired of working as an architect and decided to fulfill his dream of being an artist. Robert has saved enough money to last for one year, and concedes that if he cannot achieve success, he will resign himself to architecture. While dictating letters of introduction for him, O'Neill introduces Robert to his daughter Kay, who is impressed by Robert's determination. Soon after, at the bar, Suzie propositions Ben Marlowe, an English businessman drinking to forget his marital woes. Robert admires Suzie's exuberant dancing, and later, unable to stop thinking about her, sends for her. Suzie tells her friends, Gwenny Lee, Minnie Ho and Wednesday Lu, that she will be Robert's girl, but learns that he wants her to model for him instead. Suzie is outraged and tells him that she will "lose face" with her friends because she is not attractive enough to seduce him. Robert insists, however, and after an evening of painting, escorts Suzie to a fancy restaurant. There, Suzie reveals that she is illiterate and that she became a prostitute after being abandoned at the age of ten. When they return to the hotel, Suzie confesses that she has feelings for him, but as Robert is about to kiss her, a sailor, looking for another girl, knocks on the door. Reminded of who Suzie is, Robert tells her to leave, but as the days pass, continues to use her as his muse. One evening, while a jealous Suzie insists on remaining in his room, Robert attends a dinner hosted by the O'Neills. Several of the racist guests deride Robert's enthusiasm for Chinese culture, but Robert refuses to accept their snobbery. Robert then takes Kay to his room to see his paintings and is embarrassed to find Suzie on the bed. After Kay departs, Robert orders Suzie out, but as she descends the staircase, she is beaten by a sailor whom she had spurned. Enraged, Robert trounces the sailor. Later, Robert takes Suzie to a floating restaurant, where they run into Ben and Kay. Upset when Robert agrees to show Kay his paintings again, Suzie talks Ben into taking her home. At the hotel, Kay is moved by Robert's work and volunteers to sponsor it in London. Robert agrees, but his mood sours when Suzie does not come to model the following day. When Suzie does show up, she provokes another argument with Robert about their relationship. Ben interrupts them to ask Suzie to become his mistress, and because she and Robert are still quarreling, Suzie accepts. As time passes, Suzie boasts about Ben's devotion, even claiming that he intends to divorce his wife and marry her. One afternoon, when Suzie arrives wearing westernized clothes, Robert tears them off, telling her that she looks like a "cheap European streetwalker." Ben summons Robert to his club soon after to tell him that he is returning to his wife, and persuades him to break the news to Suzie. Although Robert tells her gently, Suzie sobs, repeating her tale that she has a wealthy father and is not "a dirty street girl." Unable to stop himself, Robert takes Suzie in his arms and asks her to stay with him. Soon the couple is living together in the hotel, with Robert painting more enthusiastically than ever. He begins to grow curious, however, about Suzie's daily absences, and one morning, follows her up a hillside path to a small house, where he finds her holding a baby who she declares is hers. Explaining that the baby, named Winston after Winston Churchill, was fathered by a government official who did not want him, Suzie begs Robert not to send her away, and Robert embraces the child. His new family depletes his savings, however, and after both Kay and Suzie offer him money, he decides to give up painting and asks O'Neill to find him a job. When he informs Suzie, she offers to return to work, telling him that it is only like holding someone to dance. Horrified, Robert throws her out, although he quickly regrets his actions and spends days searching for her. One night, when he returns to his room, Kay is waiting to tell him that one of his paintings sold in London. Robert reveals that he has lost Suzie, but Kay, misunderstanding, assures him he can find another model. When Robert proclaims his love for Suzie, Kay counsels him to seek advice from her father, but she instead pressures O'Neill to help her win Robert for herself. Although O'Neill protests that association with Suzie would ruin him, Robert asserts that he would gladly marry her. After he leaves Kay's, Robert finds Suzie waiting for him outside the Nam Kok. Relieved when Robert embraces her, Suzie pleads with him to help her find Winston and explains that due to the heavy rains, many hillside houses have been demolished. Robert and Suzie force their way up the hill, only to discover that Winston has been killed in a landslide. Later, in a temple ceremony, Suzie's friends help her burn paper symbols, such as books and a toy rickshaw, enabling them to reach Winston in the afterlife and enrich his existence there. Suzie asks Robert to participate by writing a letter of introduction recommending Winston for a good job when he grows up. After he burns the letter, Robert asks Suzie to marry him, and they then leave the temple together.

Photo Collections

The World of Suzie Wong - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Five Miles to Midnight (1961), starring Nancy Kwan and William Holden. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Feb 1961
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York: 10 Nov 1960; Great Britian opening: 14 Dec 1960; Los Angeles opening: 16 Dec 1960
Production Company
Paramount British Pictures, Ltd.; World Enterprises, Inc.; Worldfilm, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Elstree, England, Great Britain; Hong Kong
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The World of Suzie Wong by Paul Osborn, originally directed by Joshua Logan and produced by David Merrick, Seven Arts Productions, Inc. and Mansfield Productions, Inc. (New York, 14 Oct 1958) and the novel The World of Suzie Wong by Richard Mason (Cleveland, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 9m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Film Length
11,332ft (13 reels)

Articles

The World of Suzie Wong


First a novel by Richard Mason and then a successful stage play by Paul Osborn, Ray Stark's film production of The World of Suzie Wong (1960) tells the story of an expatriate American architect named Robert Lomax (William Holden) who pursues a new career as a painter in Hong Kong. He finds his perfect model in Suzie Wong (Nancy Kwan), a beautiful prostitute whose lifestyle creates personal problems for the couple. While the budding romance between William Holden and Nancy Kwan is the main focus of The World of Suzie Wong, the real star of the film is the city of Hong Kong. As noted by renown film critic Bosley Crowther in his New York Times review: "The image of Hong Kong is brilliantly and sensuously conveyed, all crowds and colors and noises and even allusive smells. Mr. (Ray) Stark and his company went out there to shoot a good part of their film, and they got it - at least, enough of it to give you the illusion of being there."

Indeed, producer Ray Stark and most of the cast and crew were in Hong Kong more than once for the filming of The World of Suzie Wong. Initially, Frances Nuyen, who played the role of Wong on the stage, was cast in the lead with Jean Negulesco directing. After the first shoot was completed, the entire company returned to a sound stage in London to shoot the interiors. Around this time, Nuyen learned that her lover at the time, Marlon Brando, was romancing actress Barbara Luna back in Hollywood. Extremely depressed by this current state of affairs, Nuyen began overeating and was soon bulging out of her expensive silk costumes. Stark quickly replaced her with Nancy Kwan who was already familiar with the part after appearing in a U.S. road company version of the play. Stark also fired Negulesco from the production and hired Richard Quine as his replacement. After the London scenes were finished, everyone flew back to Hong Kong to re-shoot the exteriors with a new lead actress and Quine at the helm.

According to Bob Thomas in Golden Boy: The Untold Story of William Holden (St. Martin's Press), the leading man was more than happy to show Quine the sights of Hong Kong from the back of a Vespa motor scooter. Holden said to him, 'You gotta see Hong Kong before you can make this picture - right? So you're going to see it. Get on!' Quine clung tightly to Holden as they roared into the drizzly night. They visited bar after bar in Kowloon, consuming large quantities of Johnnie Walker Black Label and dancing with bar girls pursuing Suzie Wong's profession. At two-thirty in the morning, they rode to the waterfront, where Bill awakened a family who owned a motorized sampan. "We want to go to the Hong Kong side," Bill said, adding a few words in Cantonese and a flash of currency for persuasion. Another tour of the bars ended in the incongruously named Maxime's, where Quine played piano and Bill the bongos with a jazz band composed of Italians. They returned to Kowloon by the sampan, boarded the Vespa, and rode back to the Peninsula Hotel. 'Okay, now you've seen Hong Kong,' Bill said. The two men showered and dressed and reported for the start of the Hong Kong locations for The World of Suzie Wong."

While female audiences enjoyed the glossy soap-opera plot of The World of Suzie Wong, most critics focused on some of the film's obvious weaknesses: William Holden was too old for the role of a struggling painter (the actor was 42 at the time), Nancy Kwan was too wholesome and pristine in appearance to be believable as a streetwalker, and the film rarely addressed the true horrors of Hong Kong prostitution with its high mortality rates, rampant diseases, and sordid working conditions. Obviously, the film's detractors missed the point - The World of Suzie Wong is a romantic fantasy concocted by Hollywood. It's also quite pleasing to the eye and the cinematography by the great Geoffrey Unsworth (he photographed Becket (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Cabaret, 1972) and the Hong Kong locations are reason enough to visit The World of Suzie Wong.

Producer: Hugh Perceval, Ray Stark
Director: Richard Quine
Screenplay: Richard Mason (novel), Paul Osborn (play), John Patrick
Cinematography: Geoffrey Unsworth
Editing: Bert Bates
Art Direction: John Box
Music: George Duning
Cast: William Holden (Robert Lomax), Nancy Kwan (Suzie Wong), Sylvia Syms (Kay O'Neill), Michael Wilding (Ben Marlowe), Jacqui Chan (Gwennie Lee), Laurence Naismith (O'Neill), Bernard Cribbins (Otis), Andy Ho (Ah Tong). C-127m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford

The World Of Suzie Wong

The World of Suzie Wong

First a novel by Richard Mason and then a successful stage play by Paul Osborn, Ray Stark's film production of The World of Suzie Wong (1960) tells the story of an expatriate American architect named Robert Lomax (William Holden) who pursues a new career as a painter in Hong Kong. He finds his perfect model in Suzie Wong (Nancy Kwan), a beautiful prostitute whose lifestyle creates personal problems for the couple. While the budding romance between William Holden and Nancy Kwan is the main focus of The World of Suzie Wong, the real star of the film is the city of Hong Kong. As noted by renown film critic Bosley Crowther in his New York Times review: "The image of Hong Kong is brilliantly and sensuously conveyed, all crowds and colors and noises and even allusive smells. Mr. (Ray) Stark and his company went out there to shoot a good part of their film, and they got it - at least, enough of it to give you the illusion of being there." Indeed, producer Ray Stark and most of the cast and crew were in Hong Kong more than once for the filming of The World of Suzie Wong. Initially, Frances Nuyen, who played the role of Wong on the stage, was cast in the lead with Jean Negulesco directing. After the first shoot was completed, the entire company returned to a sound stage in London to shoot the interiors. Around this time, Nuyen learned that her lover at the time, Marlon Brando, was romancing actress Barbara Luna back in Hollywood. Extremely depressed by this current state of affairs, Nuyen began overeating and was soon bulging out of her expensive silk costumes. Stark quickly replaced her with Nancy Kwan who was already familiar with the part after appearing in a U.S. road company version of the play. Stark also fired Negulesco from the production and hired Richard Quine as his replacement. After the London scenes were finished, everyone flew back to Hong Kong to re-shoot the exteriors with a new lead actress and Quine at the helm. According to Bob Thomas in Golden Boy: The Untold Story of William Holden (St. Martin's Press), the leading man was more than happy to show Quine the sights of Hong Kong from the back of a Vespa motor scooter. Holden said to him, 'You gotta see Hong Kong before you can make this picture - right? So you're going to see it. Get on!' Quine clung tightly to Holden as they roared into the drizzly night. They visited bar after bar in Kowloon, consuming large quantities of Johnnie Walker Black Label and dancing with bar girls pursuing Suzie Wong's profession. At two-thirty in the morning, they rode to the waterfront, where Bill awakened a family who owned a motorized sampan. "We want to go to the Hong Kong side," Bill said, adding a few words in Cantonese and a flash of currency for persuasion. Another tour of the bars ended in the incongruously named Maxime's, where Quine played piano and Bill the bongos with a jazz band composed of Italians. They returned to Kowloon by the sampan, boarded the Vespa, and rode back to the Peninsula Hotel. 'Okay, now you've seen Hong Kong,' Bill said. The two men showered and dressed and reported for the start of the Hong Kong locations for The World of Suzie Wong." While female audiences enjoyed the glossy soap-opera plot of The World of Suzie Wong, most critics focused on some of the film's obvious weaknesses: William Holden was too old for the role of a struggling painter (the actor was 42 at the time), Nancy Kwan was too wholesome and pristine in appearance to be believable as a streetwalker, and the film rarely addressed the true horrors of Hong Kong prostitution with its high mortality rates, rampant diseases, and sordid working conditions. Obviously, the film's detractors missed the point - The World of Suzie Wong is a romantic fantasy concocted by Hollywood. It's also quite pleasing to the eye and the cinematography by the great Geoffrey Unsworth (he photographed Becket (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Cabaret, 1972) and the Hong Kong locations are reason enough to visit The World of Suzie Wong. Producer: Hugh Perceval, Ray Stark Director: Richard Quine Screenplay: Richard Mason (novel), Paul Osborn (play), John Patrick Cinematography: Geoffrey Unsworth Editing: Bert Bates Art Direction: John Box Music: George Duning Cast: William Holden (Robert Lomax), Nancy Kwan (Suzie Wong), Sylvia Syms (Kay O'Neill), Michael Wilding (Ben Marlowe), Jacqui Chan (Gwennie Lee), Laurence Naismith (O'Neill), Bernard Cribbins (Otis), Andy Ho (Ah Tong). C-127m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

In the opening credits, the title card for the production companies reads: "A World Enterprise, Inc.-Worldfilm Limited Co-Production." Although numerous reviews refer to "Suzie Wong" and her friends as "yum yum" or "yum-yum" girls, that term is not used in the film. In the picture they are called "Wanchai girls," after the area in which they work as prostitutes.
       In 1957, trade paper news items announced that producer Ray Stark and his partner, Eliot Hyman, had purchased Richard Mason's novel from galleys for their company, Associated Artists, which would later become Seven Arts Productions. Stark and Hyman co-financed the Broadway production based on Mason's novel and owned the film rights to the property, according to the Variety review of the play. The successful stage production, which opened in New York City on October 14, 1958, featured the Broadway debuts of France Nuyen as Suzie and William Shatner as "Robert Lomax."
       In July 1958, Hollywood Reporter announced that Paramount would produce a film version of the play and novel in conjunction with Seven Arts. Although Stark had previously worked as a literary and talent agent, The World of Suzie Wong marked his first experience as a motion picture producer. In a December 1960 New York Herald Tribune article, Stark stated that the play, which did excellent business despite receiving poor notices, was valuable to him because he "saw faults which had to be corrected in the film...the play provided a framework for the film."
       Information in the Paramount Collection, located at the AMPAS Library, indicates that William Schorr was scheduled to co-produce the film with Stark. Although a July 15, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item added that Schorr had recently joined Stark's company, his contribution to the completed picture has not been confirmed. According to a studio press release, the picture marked the first time that screenwriter John Patrick toured Asia for research purposes, even though he had previously written the screenplays for the 1955 Twentieth Century-Fox film Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing and the 1956 M-G-M picture Teahouse of the August Moon, both of which were set in Asia.
       According to an June 18, 1959 "Rambling Reporter" item, Paramount initially considered hiring British director Jack Clayton, who had recently helmed Room at the Top, to direct the film. Jean Negulesco was offically hired in late October 1959, according to Hollywood Reporter, simultaneous to the casting of William Holden as Robert. [Holden had been Stark's client when Stark was an agent, according to a May 19, 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item.] As noted by contemporary reviews, when Holden was cast as Robert, the character was changed from a young man to one nearing forty, with many reviews applauding the change, but others commenting negatively on Holden's age and haggardness in the film. The picture marked Holden's first since moving to Switzerland to avoid the high personal income taxes then faced by American citizens. As noted by Hollywood Reporter news items and modern sources, Holden was highly criticized in film circles for his move and for insisting on working only in productions that were filmed abroad. Because The World of Suzie Wong was shot in Hong Kong and the M-G-M Studios in Boreham Wood, Elstree, England, it qualified as a British quota picture, according to a December 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item.
       Although Eurasian actress Nancy Kwan played Suzie in the finished film, the casting history of the role was complicated. Nuyen, who received acclaim for her Broadway performance as Suzie, was not immediately cast in the film, according to Hollywood Reporter news items, which reported that Hyun Choo Oh, "Miss Korea" in the 1959 Miss Universe pageant, and Kwan, a dancer studying ballet in England, were among those considered for the role before Nuyen. In September 1959, Hollywood Reporter noted that Stark and Patrick had just returned from a 17,000-mile location scouting trek through Honk Kong, Japan and the Philippines, during which they interviewed "hundreds" of Asian women for roles. In December 1959, Hollywood Reporter announced that "after negotiating for months," Stark had secured Nuyen's services for the part. According to a July 1960 New York Times article, when Nuyen was cast as Suzie for the movie, Kwan replaced her in the title role in a theatrical company touring America and Canada.
       The picture, which began shooting on January 7, 1960, was shut down in early February due to the illness of Nuyen, which caused her to drop out of the production, according to Hollywood Reporter news items. Other contemporary sources reported that the main reason Nuyen left the film was due to clashes between the star and producer over how the role should be played, and that her departure was not voluntary. A February 4, 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Stark was forced to conduct a "second global search for another Suzie," with a February 10, 1960 Variety article stating that actresses considered to replace Nuyen included Natalie Wood, Nobu McCarthy, Lisa Liu, Rita Moreno, Grace Chang, Pascale Petit, Charita Soliz and Luz Valdez. On February 15, 1960, Hollywood Reporter announced the casting of Kwan, who made her motion picture acting debut in the film.
       Only a few days after the casting of Kwan, production was again disrupted when Negulesco stepped down and was replaced by director Richard Quine. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, the change was made due to "differences between [Stark and Negulesco] over portions of the story still to be filmed." The switch to Quine caused problems for the production with the Directors Guild of America, according to a February 19, 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item, because Quine "had failed to notify the Guild...before entering into negotiations to replace Negulesco." According to the news item, DGA regulations required that the "present director of a film be notified of another's intention to dicker for his spot." A Daily Variety item on the matter stated that possible disciplinary action against Quine was to be decided by the guild's board of directors. It has not been determined how much of Negulesco's work remained in the completed picture.
       The casting of Kwan necessitated that the production leave England, where interiors were being filmed, to reshoot the Hong Kong exteriors already done with Nuyen. Extensive location shooting in Hong Kong was redone in April and May 1960, at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars, according to contemporary reports. In a March 1960 Los Angeles Times article, Stark asserted that both Kwan and Quine had been his first choices for the film anyway, but that Kwan had "lacked experience" when she was tested originally.
       Although a January 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Ron Randell would reprise his Broadway role of "Ben Marlowe" for the film, Michael Wilding ultimately was cast in the part. A December 10, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Sir Ralph Richardson had been signed for the picture, presumably for the role of "O'Neill." Although a Hollywood Reporter news item includes John Wallace in the cast, his appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. A studio press release reported that Juliet Yuen, the mother of the one-year-old child who played "Winston Wong," had an "important supporting role," but her appearance in the final film also has not been confirmed. An April 1960 Variety article reported that members of the British Actors Equity Association were questioning the casting of Wilding's wife, socialite Susan Nell, in "a three-minute roll [sic], specially written into the picture." It has not been determined, however, if Nell, who was not a professional actress, appears in the completed picture.
       Yvonne Shima, who played "Minnie Ho," had played Suzie in the London stage presentation. The picture marked the screen debut of Jacqui Chan, who also appeared in the London version of the play, as well as the first appearance in an American film by British actress Sylvia Syms. According to August and September 1960 Hollywood Reporter and Los Angeles Examiner articles, the picture was dubbed in Hamburg, West Germany at the Real Studios, because Holden was then in Germany filming the 1962 Paramount release The Counterfeit Traitor (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70).
       According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Paramount submitted a copy of the screenplay to the PCA for approval in late October 1959 even though there were "lots of things still wrong with it," because the picture was being "rushed into production" abroad, with most of the crew and cast to be leaving shortly. The PCA replied that the basic story was unacceptable due to "the portrayal, both in theme and in detail, of the mechanics of prostitution and the use of a brothel as a locale." Also singled out by the PCA was the relationship between Suzie and Robert, which was deemed a "glorification of an illicit sex affair without any compensating moral values." Despite a mid-November 1959 conference between PCA and Paramount officials, the script was rejected again in late November for the same reasons.
       On December 9, 1959, PCA head Geoffrey I. Shurlock noted for the file that Paramount was "endeavoring to get Mr. Stark to shoot as many protection shots covering the unacceptable items discussed in our various letters and conferences," and also that because the picture was to go into production in Hong Kong in Jan, there was little the PCA could do until the finished picture was submitted for review. On August 18, 1960, Shurlock wrote to Paramount, stating that it was the "unanimous opinion" of the PCA staff that the completed picture could not be approved for a Code seal, due to the depiction of prostitution and the sexual relationship between Suzie and Robert.
       On August 19, 1960, however, the assistant of Paramount president Barney Balaban called Shurlock to express Balaban's distress over the rejection of the picture, which he considered "inoffensive." Shurlock then discussed with Paramount censorship liaison Luigi Luraschi the "involvement of the studio with the producer [Stark, who maintained control over the final product because he held the rights to the material], and the studio's inability to make any changes in the picture." Luraschi and another Paramount executive told Shurlock that the PCA's rejection of the picture had been leaked to the press, and upon their request, Shurlock issued another letter withdrawing the official rejection notice. When Luraschi asked for a review of the situation by the PCA Review Board of the MPAA, the board screened the film and decided that the picture could be approved without eliminations and released with a Code seal.
       The picture, which received a "B" rating from the National Catholic Legion of Decency, was listed as "restricted entertainment" in several areas of Canada. The Variety review, noting the picture's controversial subject matter, stated: "Box office is going to reflect the moral stance of the filmgoing public. There is likely to be some controversy stirred up, and the result will be a stimulus to adults and a caution to parents." April 1961 Daily Variety items reported that Paramount encountered some difficulties in placing a newspaper advertisement that featured Kwan in a revealing dress, which had a long slit up to her hip.
       In an August 1960 article about the film's censorship difficulties, Daily Variety reported that an extra day's shooting had been set to "change the ending and bring added emotions into play," although the new ending was "reported to have nothing to do with the Code squabble." The article stated that the scene would include Kwan and "three Chinese girls featured in the film," but no further information about a possible alternate ending or additional shooting has been found.
       As noted by contemporary sources, Paramount arranged for special engagements of the picture in selected cities in November and December 1960, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco, so that The World of Suzie Wong would be eligible for Academy Award consideration for 1960, although the picture's national release date was not until February 1961. According to several 1960 news items, IATSE planned to picket showings of the film in Los Angeles and New York to protest the trend toward "runaway productions" filmed abroad rather than in the United States. The union particularly intended to target Holden, who, as noted above, had begun filming abroad exclusively. Although a song entitled "Suzie Wong," written by James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, was used in the picture's exploitation, it was not included in the final release. The Los Angeles premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, which was a benefit for the City of Hope, featured UCLA students of Asian descent pulling guests to the theater in rickshaws, according to reports about the event.
       The World of Suzie Wong received mixed reviews, with a number of critics remarking on the spate of films then in release that featured prostitutes as main characters, including Butterfield 8 and the Greek production Never on Sunday. Some reviews also criticized the picture's portrayal of the Chinese characters, with Time labeling it "a mad chow mein of Chinese-laundry English," and "a cruel jest to the undernourished minions of Asia's vast sex industry, many of them dead of disease or exhaustion long before they reach the heroine's comparatively advanced age: 21." Numerous reviews did praise the photography of the location sites, however, as well as the acting, especially Kwan's. The Los Angeles Herald Express review commended her appearance as "one of the most enchanting first performances in a long time."
       In November 1960 and February 1961, Hollywood Reporter and Variety reported that Stark was selling his almost fifty percent interest in the film property to Hyman, who had maintained control of Seven Arts, although he was not directly involved in the picture's production. The February 1961 Variety item stated that Stark's reasons for selling his interest in the high-grossing film were unknown, and that Paramount had offered to buy him out at one point but the deal was not consumated.
       Although in the 1960 Cosmopolitan article, author Richard Mason, who spent five months in Hong Kong researching his book, stated emphatically that the character of Suzie was totally fictitious, in October 1965, Daily Variety reported that Wong Yuet Lan had filed a $500,000 lawsuit against Paramount, Mason and the publishers of the novel. Wong, who claimed to be the "real" Suzie Wong, stated that the book and film made "unauthorized use of her name and incidents of her private life." In addition to the damages, Wong asked for an injunction against further distribution of the book and the film, which had been reissued "several times," according to the Daily Variety article. The outcome of the suit has not been determined.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall November 10, 1960

Released in United States on Video February 1, 1989

Released in United States on Video February 1, 1989

Released in United States Fall November 10, 1960