Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing


1h 42m 1955
Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

Brief Synopsis

A Eurasian doctor in Hong Kong falls in love with a war correspondent.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Many-Splendored Thing
Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Aug 1955
Premiere Information
New York opening: 18 Aug 1955; Los Angeles opening: 19 Aug 1955
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Hong Kong; Topanga Canyon, California, United States; Hong Kong
Screenplay Information
Based on the book A Many-Splendored Thing by Han Suyin (London, 1952).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
4-Track Stereo (Western Electric Sound System) (magnetic prints), Mono (optical prints)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.55 : 1
Film Length
9,152ft (12 reels)

Synopsis

In 1949, in the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong, Eurasian doctor Han Suyin is summoned to the hospital emergency ward to tend to a young Chinese girl. Suyin's friend, British doctor John Keith, places the dedicated Suyin in charge of the refugee, and soon after, invites her to attend a cocktail party with him. At the party, Suyin explains to Adeline Palmer-Jones, the snobbish wife of one of the hospital directors, that her mother was English and her father Chinese, and that she considers herself Chinese, even though she studied medicine in England. While discussing her intention to return to China to help her people, Suyin captures the attention of American newspaper correspondent Mark Elliott, who later asks her out. Intrigued but uncertain, Suyin tells Mark that he may call her, and later, as John drives her home, he informs her that Mark is married. Suyin shrugs off John's concern by speculating that Mark will not call her, but when she returns to her room, the phone is already ringing. Suyin agrees to dine with Mark, and as they talk, Mark learns that Suyin, who is surprisingly superstitious, is the widow of a murdered Chinese Nationalist general. Days later, Suyin tends to the little girl, who has been named Oh-No, and engages in a political debate with Chinese doctor Sen, who believes that the Communist takeover in China has benefited the people, even though Hong Kong is flooded with refugees fleeing the new government. Later, after speaking with Mark, who is going to Singapore on an assignment, Suyin goes into town, where she meets Suzanne, a childhood Eurasian friend. When Suzanne tells Suyin that she now passes for English and is having an affair with an important, married Englishman, Suyin scolds Suzanne for denying who she truly is. Later, John again warns Suyin to be discreet in her relationship with Mark, whose wife lives in Singapore. The next day, when Mark comes to find Suyin at the hospital, he is met by Adeline, who pointedly asks him about his wife in front of Suyin. Mark and Suyin then go to a beach, and there, Mark tells Suyin that he and his wife have been separated and have not spoken for six years. When Mark attempts to express his feelings for her, Suyin gently quiets him, stating that she does not want to complicate her life. The couple then visits Suyin's friends, Robert and Nora Hung, and spends a pleasant evening with them. When they return to the beach, Suyin can no longer contain her growing attraction to Mark and tells him that the Eastern and Western sides of her nature are debating what she should do. The next day, they meet on a hillside near the hospital, and Suyin is happy to see a butterfly land on Mark's shoulder, which she regards as a good omen. Later, Suyin tells Mark that she has received an urgent summons from Third Uncle, the head of her family, to return to Chungking. Mark does not want her to go, but Suyin asserts that she needs time alone, to adjust to the possibly sordid implications of their relationship. Infuriated, Mark replies that she is too sensitive, and that he loves her. Suyin claims that love does not justify everything, and the angry Mark retorts that she does not need to run away to rid her conscience of him. On the airplane to Chungking, Suyin meets Suzanne and is surprised to learn that her paramour is Palmer-Jones. After being greeted by her family, Suyin learns that her sister Suchen has brought disgrace on the family by seeking refuge with a foreigner because she fears that the Communists will kill her. Suyin visits the girl, who states that Suyin has nothing to fear because she can return to Hong Kong. Suyin allays Suchen's fears by promising to obtain a passport for her. That night, Suyin is summoned to the main room, where the family has gathered to greet the just-arrived Mark. Mark explains to Suyin that he could not let her go, and wants to obtain a divorce in order to marry her. Surrendering to her love for Mark, Suyin states that she will always do what he wants, then receives permission from Third Uncle to marry Mark. While Mark goes to Singapore to confront his wife, Suyin busies herself with work and tending to Oh-No, and relaxes with Nora, Suzanne and her American friend, Ann Richards, who all caution her about the difficulities she will experience if she marries Mark. Suyin is too happy to take them seriously, although when Mark returns to Hong Kong, he sadly tells her that his wife will not grant him a divorce. Suyin assures Mark that nothing is different between them, and says she will live with the hope that his wife will change her mind. Later, the couple meets on their hilltop, and Mark asks Suyin to join him in Macao, to which he must go for a story. Suyin agrees, but as she is leaving, Adeline warns her that Palmer-Jones does not approve of her relationship with Mark. In Macao, Suyin and Mark are thrilled to be alone together, and Mark quotes Francis Thompson's poem about love being a "many-splendored thing." Their joy is cut short, however, when Mark receives orders to cover the just-erupted war between North and South Korea. Back at the hospital, Suyin learns that while she was away, there was an explosion in the harbor, and that she has been dismissed for being absent. Sen tells Suyin that she was fired because she is Eurasian, but Suyin refuses to listen to his entreaties to return to China. Suyin then meets Mark on their hillside one last time, and when Mark urges her not to be sad, Suyin bravely hides her tears until Mark leaves. Suyin and Oh-No, who has been released to her care, move in with Nora while Suyin looks for a job. Suyin's only happines comes from Mark's frequent letters, which she treasures. In Korea, Mark is typing a letter to Suyin when a butterfly lands on his typewriter, and he smiles, remembering her belief in omens. Later, in Hong Kong, Suyin is writing a good-luck prayer in Chinese, hoping that it will help Mark, when Oh-No accidentally spills her red ink. At the same time that the ink is spilled, a bomb drops on Mark's camp in Korea and he is killed. Shortly after, Suyin learns of Mark's death, and in horror and disbelief, runs out of Nora's house. She climbs up to their hillside and sobs in grief while remembering Mark's words about her ability to help others. Recalling one of Mark's letters, which promised, "We have not missed, you and I, we have not missed that many-splendored thing," Suyin dries her tears and begins to walk down the hill.

Photo Collections

Love is a Many Splendored Thing - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955), starring Jennifer Jones and William Holden. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
A Many-Splendored Thing
Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Aug 1955
Premiere Information
New York opening: 18 Aug 1955; Los Angeles opening: 19 Aug 1955
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Hong Kong; Topanga Canyon, California, United States; Hong Kong
Screenplay Information
Based on the book A Many-Splendored Thing by Han Suyin (London, 1952).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
4-Track Stereo (Western Electric Sound System) (magnetic prints), Mono (optical prints)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.55 : 1
Film Length
9,152ft (12 reels)

Award Wins

Best Costume Design

1955

Best Score

1955

Best Song

1955

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1955
Jennifer Jones

Best Art Direction

1955

Best Cinematography

1955

Best Picture

1955

Best Sound

1955

Articles

Love is a Many Splendored Thing - Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing


Based on an autobiographical novel, Love is a Many-Spendored Thing (1955) is the story of a love affair between Eurasian doctor Han Suyin (Jennifer Jones), who works in a British-run hospital in Hong Kong, and married American journalist Mark Elliott (William Holden). The romance is played out against the background of mid-century Hong Kong, with its colonial and cultural conflicts, as well as the looming threat of the Korean War. The novel, by the Belgian-Chinese writer-physician Han Suyin, fictionalized her real-life affair with a British journalist and dealt with social and political developments in China in the late 1940s.

The novel, A Many-Splendoured Thing, had been published in 1952, but the Production Code Administration, the industry's censor, rejected the book, with its themes of adultery and miscegenation, as unsuitable for a film. Three years later, 20th Century Fox bought the rights, and submitted a first draft script that was rejected by the PCA. After much discussion, the censors agreed to allow the film to be produced as long as there was no suggestion that the couple's relationship was sexual.

Love is a Many-Spendored Thing was the first film in a three-picture deal with Fox for Jennifer Jones. The offer had come at a time when she badly needed it. She had won an Oscar for her first starring role in The Song of Bernadette (1943) and had become one of the top stars of the mid-1940s. But her stardom had waned after her marriage to her mentor, producer David O. Selznick, who micro-managed her career and whose interference was dreaded by producers and directors. Jones's own high-strung temperament also made working with her difficult, in spite of her enormous talent. Her most recent film, Indiscretion of an American Wife (1954), made in Italy by director Vittorio De Sica and co-produced by De Sica and Selznick, had not been successful. The combination of Italian neo-realism and American gloss didn't work, in spite of heartfelt performances by Jones and Montgomery Clift, and Selznick made matters worse by drastically cutting the American release version to just over an hour. Jones's Broadway debut in a stage adaptation of Henry James's novel, Portrait of a Lady (1954), had also flopped. Love is a Many-Spendored Thing was Jones's return to the screen after those failures. Selznick was busy trying to develop other projects, so he did not get involved in the production of Love is a Many-Spendored Thing, but he did send his usual lengthy memos with his usual barrage of suggestions about Jones's hair, makeup, and wardrobe to producer Buddy Adler and director Henry King.

Jones was on edge without Selznick on hand to be her advocate. She was unhappy that William Holden, by then the bigger star, had top billing. At every imagined slight, she shouted, "I'm going to tell David about this." Holden tried to smooth over their differences, giving her a bouquet of roses. She threw them in his face.

In spite of the offscreen tensions, the onscreen chemistry was excellent, and Love is a Many-Spendored Thing was a big success, even though the film received decidedly mixed reviews. "Fine and sensitive," Variety raved, adding, " [it] is indeed a many splendored thing...as simple and moving a love story as has come along in many a moon." But Bosley Crowther of the New York Times called it "elaborately sentimental," and slammed John Patrick's screenplay. "His story is commonplace and stilted, his dialogue is foolishly verbose, and his characters are stiff and bloodless people with no seeming urge for anything but love." Crowther and other critics credited Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster's romantic title song, which was a pop hit even before the film's premiere, for much of Love is a Many-Spendored Thing's success. The song and Alfred Newman's score and Charles LeMaire's costumes won Academy Awards. The film was nominated for five other Oscars®, including Best Picture (it lost to Marty), and Jones as best actress (she lost to Anna Magnani for The Rose Tattoo).

Director: Henry King
Producer: Buddy Adler
Screenplay: John Patrick
Cinematography: Leon Shamroy
Editor: William Reynolds
Costume Design: Charles LeMaire
Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler, George W. Davis
Music: Alfred Newman; title song by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster
Principal Cast: William Holden (Mark Elliott), Jennifer Jones (Han Suyin), Torin Thatcher (Mr. Palmer-Jones), Isobel Elsom (Adeline Palmer-Jones), Murray Matheson (Dr. John Keith), Virginia Gregg (Ann Richards), Richard Loo (Robert Hung), Soo Yong (Nora Hung), Philip Ahn (Third Uncle), Jorja Curtright (Suzanne), Donna Martell (Suchen).
C-102m. Letterboxed.

by Margarita Landazuri
Love Is A Many Splendored Thing - Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing

Love is a Many Splendored Thing - Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

Based on an autobiographical novel, Love is a Many-Spendored Thing (1955) is the story of a love affair between Eurasian doctor Han Suyin (Jennifer Jones), who works in a British-run hospital in Hong Kong, and married American journalist Mark Elliott (William Holden). The romance is played out against the background of mid-century Hong Kong, with its colonial and cultural conflicts, as well as the looming threat of the Korean War. The novel, by the Belgian-Chinese writer-physician Han Suyin, fictionalized her real-life affair with a British journalist and dealt with social and political developments in China in the late 1940s. The novel, A Many-Splendoured Thing, had been published in 1952, but the Production Code Administration, the industry's censor, rejected the book, with its themes of adultery and miscegenation, as unsuitable for a film. Three years later, 20th Century Fox bought the rights, and submitted a first draft script that was rejected by the PCA. After much discussion, the censors agreed to allow the film to be produced as long as there was no suggestion that the couple's relationship was sexual. Love is a Many-Spendored Thing was the first film in a three-picture deal with Fox for Jennifer Jones. The offer had come at a time when she badly needed it. She had won an Oscar for her first starring role in The Song of Bernadette (1943) and had become one of the top stars of the mid-1940s. But her stardom had waned after her marriage to her mentor, producer David O. Selznick, who micro-managed her career and whose interference was dreaded by producers and directors. Jones's own high-strung temperament also made working with her difficult, in spite of her enormous talent. Her most recent film, Indiscretion of an American Wife (1954), made in Italy by director Vittorio De Sica and co-produced by De Sica and Selznick, had not been successful. The combination of Italian neo-realism and American gloss didn't work, in spite of heartfelt performances by Jones and Montgomery Clift, and Selznick made matters worse by drastically cutting the American release version to just over an hour. Jones's Broadway debut in a stage adaptation of Henry James's novel, Portrait of a Lady (1954), had also flopped. Love is a Many-Spendored Thing was Jones's return to the screen after those failures. Selznick was busy trying to develop other projects, so he did not get involved in the production of Love is a Many-Spendored Thing, but he did send his usual lengthy memos with his usual barrage of suggestions about Jones's hair, makeup, and wardrobe to producer Buddy Adler and director Henry King. Jones was on edge without Selznick on hand to be her advocate. She was unhappy that William Holden, by then the bigger star, had top billing. At every imagined slight, she shouted, "I'm going to tell David about this." Holden tried to smooth over their differences, giving her a bouquet of roses. She threw them in his face. In spite of the offscreen tensions, the onscreen chemistry was excellent, and Love is a Many-Spendored Thing was a big success, even though the film received decidedly mixed reviews. "Fine and sensitive," Variety raved, adding, " [it] is indeed a many splendored thing...as simple and moving a love story as has come along in many a moon." But Bosley Crowther of the New York Times called it "elaborately sentimental," and slammed John Patrick's screenplay. "His story is commonplace and stilted, his dialogue is foolishly verbose, and his characters are stiff and bloodless people with no seeming urge for anything but love." Crowther and other critics credited Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster's romantic title song, which was a pop hit even before the film's premiere, for much of Love is a Many-Spendored Thing's success. The song and Alfred Newman's score and Charles LeMaire's costumes won Academy Awards. The film was nominated for five other Oscars®, including Best Picture (it lost to Marty), and Jones as best actress (she lost to Anna Magnani for The Rose Tattoo). Director: Henry King Producer: Buddy Adler Screenplay: John Patrick Cinematography: Leon Shamroy Editor: William Reynolds Costume Design: Charles LeMaire Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler, George W. Davis Music: Alfred Newman; title song by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster Principal Cast: William Holden (Mark Elliott), Jennifer Jones (Han Suyin), Torin Thatcher (Mr. Palmer-Jones), Isobel Elsom (Adeline Palmer-Jones), Murray Matheson (Dr. John Keith), Virginia Gregg (Ann Richards), Richard Loo (Robert Hung), Soo Yong (Nora Hung), Philip Ahn (Third Uncle), Jorja Curtright (Suzanne), Donna Martell (Suchen). C-102m. Letterboxed. by Margarita Landazuri

Quotes

I will make no mistakes in the name of loneliness. I have my work and an uncomplicated life. I don't want to feel anything again...ever.
- Dr. Han Suyin
Our gorgeous lie did not even last the night.
- Dr. Han Suyin
Are we going swimming?
- Mark Elliott
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.
- Dr. Han Suyin

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was A Many-Splendored Thing. As noted by the Variety review, the title is "part of a quotation from `The Kingdom of God' by religious poet Francis Thompson." Although several contemporary sources refer to Murray Matheson's character as "Dr. Tam," he is called "Dr. John Keith" in the film. William Holden was borrowed from Paramount for the production. Hollywood Reporter news items include Benson Fong, Sammee Tong, Jean Gale, Richard Wang, John Bogden, Byron Fitzpatrick and Mary Louie in the cast, but their appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed.
       Other Hollywood Reporter news items noted that portions of the film were shot on location in Hong Kong and at Topanga Canyon, CA. According to a modern source, the location filming in Hong Kong was finished before writer John Patrick had completed the screenplay, and he was then forced to conform the script to accommodate the footage. According to May 1955 studio press materials, the film was to contain a scene in which "Han Suyin" is offered her job back by "Palmer-Jones" on the condition that they stay "friendly," but Suyin rejects his advances. Although the finished picture does contain a scene in which "Suzanne" offers to intercede with Palmer-Jones on Suyin's behalf, it does not have the sequence between Suyin and Palmer-Jones.
       As reported by several reviews of the film, Han Suyin's "autobiographical novel" told the story of her life as a Eurasian doctor in Hong Kong, and of her love affair with a married, British war correspondent. [The lead male character was changed to an American for the film after Holden was cast]. According to information in the film's file in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the book's subject matter of adultery and miscegination provoked the PCA to reject it as potential film material several times. Twentieth Century-Fox first presented the book to the PCA office for consideration in late 1952. When the story was rejected as "being a justification and glorification of adultery," the studio responded that production chief Darryl F. Zanuck "had had the same opinion" but wished to obtain an "official reaction." M-G-M also indicated an interest in the book in 1952.
       In early March 1955, Fox submitted its first draft of the screenplay, which was rejected by the PCA for its depiction of adultery. On March 21, 1955, in response to script changes presented by the studio, PCA official Geoffrey Shurlock again warned the studio not to glorify the adultery and to remember that the story was about "a very unconventional and dangerous relationship, and must be so presented." After a series of conferences between the studio and the PCA, with some changes being made in footage that was already shot to reduce the implication that "Mark Elliott" and "Suyin" were involved in a sexual relationship, the film was approved in mid-May 1955.
       According to a July 14, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, the film was to receive simultaneous world premieres in New York and Singapore, but the exact opening date in Singapore has not been confirmed. The picture received Academy Awards for Best Costume Design (Color), Best Music (Scoring Dramatic or Comedy Picture) and Best Song ("Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing") and was nominated for Best Actress, Best Art Direction (Color), Best Cinematography (Color), Best Sound Recording and Best Picture. The title song was already a very popular hit by the time the picture was released, and several reviews surmised that it would help the film achieve box-office success. The CBS television network broadcast a half-hour soap opera entitled Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing from September 18, 1967 to March 23, 1973. Set in San Francisco, the series depicted the lives of three families and the problems of inter-racial love and marriage.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1998

Released in United States Summer August 1955

Shown at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as part of program "Twentieth Century Fox and the Golden Age of CinemaScope" July 3 - August 15, 1998.

CinemaScope

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as part of program "Twentieth Century Fox and the Golden Age of CinemaScope" July 3 - August 15, 1998.)

Released in United States Summer August 1955