Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)

102 mins | Romance | August 1955

Director:

Henry King

Writer:

John Patrick

Producer:

Buddy Adler

Cinematographer:

Leon Shamroy

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, George W. Davis

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was A Many-Splendored Thing . As noted by the Var 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. HR 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 HR 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]. ... More Less

The working title of this film was A Many-Splendored Thing . As noted by the Var 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. HR 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 HR 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 Mar 1955, Fox submitted its first draft of the screenplay, which was rejected by the PCA for its depiction of adultery. On 21 Mar 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 14 Jul 1955 HR 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 18 Sep 1967 to 23 Mar 1973. Set in San Francisco, the series depicted the lives of three families and the problems of inter-racial love and marriage. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
13 Aug 1955.
---
Daily Variety
10 Aug 55
p. 3.
Film Daily
10 Aug 55
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1955
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 1955
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1955
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 1955
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 1955
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 1955
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1955
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 1955
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1955
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 May 1955
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 1955
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 1955
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1955
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 1955
p. 3.
LAMirror-News
20 Aug 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
13 Aug 55
p. 553.
New York Times
3 Apr 1955.
---
New York Times
19 Aug 55
p. 10.
New Yorker
27 Aug 1955.
---
Newsweek
29 Aug 1955.
---
Variety
10 Aug 55
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d unit dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styling
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Tech adv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book A Many-Splendored Thing by Han Suyin (London, 1952).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," music and lyrics by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
A Many-Splendored Thing
Release Date:
August 1955
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 18 August 1955
Los Angeles opening: 19 August 1955
Production Date:
14 March--24 April 1955
addl seq early May 1955
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
18 August 1955
Copyright Number:
LP5517
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
lenses by Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
102
Length(in feet):
9,152
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17475
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 ... +


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. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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