Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (film)

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing is a 1955 Deluxe color American drama-romance film in CinemaScope. Set in 1949–50 in Hong Kong, it tells the story of a married, but separated, American reporter Mark Elliot (played by William Holden), who falls in love with a Eurasian doctor originally from China, Han Suyin (played by Jennifer Jones), only to encounter prejudice from her family and from Hong Kong society.

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing.jpg
Original film poster
Directed byHenry King
Produced byBuddy Adler
Written byJohn Patrick
Based onA Many-Splendoured Thing
1952 book
by Han Suyin
StarringJennifer Jones
William Holden
Music byAlfred Newman
Sammy Fain title song
CinematographyLeon Shamroy, ASC
Edited byWilliam H. Reynolds
Distributed byTwentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Release date
  • August 18, 1955 (1955-08-18)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.78 million[1]
Box office$4 million (US and Canada rentals)[2]

The film was adapted by John Patrick from the 1952 autobiographical novel A Many-Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin. The film was directed by Henry King.

The film later inspired a television soap opera in 1967, though without the hyphen in the show's title.


A widowed Eurasian doctor Han Suyin (Jones) falls in love with a married-but-separated American correspondent Mark Elliott (Holden) in Hong Kong, during the period of China's Civil War in the late 1940s. Although they briefly find happiness together, she is ostracized by the greater Chinese community. After losing her position at the hospital, Suyin and her adopted daughter go to live with a friend while Mark is on an assignment during the Korean War. They write to each other constantly. She receives word Mark was killed and she runs to visit their favorite hilltop meeting place.


Jennifer Jones as Dr. Han Suyin


The rights to the novel were bought by David Brown of 20th Century Fox for the producer Sol C. Siegel.[3] However, when he left the company the project was given to Buddy Adler. The screenplay struggled to get Motion Picture Production Code approval due to its themes of adultery and miscegenation.[4]

Parts of the film were shot on location in Hong Kong by second-unit director Otto Lang, which was unusual for its time. Two weeks of location filming in Hong Kong had been completed before the final screenplay had been finished by screenwriter John Patrick. He then had to adapt the screenplay to include as many of the shots as possible.

Despite the film's romantic subject and their chemistry on the screen, Holden and Jones could barely stand each other on set. Holden was turned off by Jones' obsessive involvement with her character and complaints about her makeup (which she said made her "look old"), about her costumes and about her dialogue. Soon they were barely speaking to one another. According to Holden's biography, Jones was also generally rude and abrasive to everyone involved in the production.[5] Their relationship was also not helped by Jones' worries about Holden's reputation as a womanizer. Holden claimed she chewed garlic before her love scenes, which she may have done to discourage him.[6] Once, Holden tried to make peace, offering Jones a bouquet of white roses, which she tossed back in his face.

The film was completed on time, within the planned three months schedule.


The Foreign Correspondents' Club, then located at 41A Conduit Road, is portrayed in the film as a hospital. The building was demolished in the late 1960s.
  • The former Mok residence located at 41A Conduit Road became the Foreign Correspondents' Club in 1951. In the film it is portrayed as a hospital. The building is now demolished and Realty Gardens apartment complex has occupied the site since 1970.[7]
  • The former colonial-style Repulse Bay Hotel, demolished in 1982, and now the site of The Repulse Bay apartment building.[8]
  • The Tai Pak Floating Restaurant, now part of the Jumbo Kingdom.[9]
  • The famous hill-top meeting place where the lovers used to meet was located in rural California and not in Hong Kong.


Variety characterized it as "beautiful, absorbing."

The film earned rentals of $4 million in the United States of America and Canada.[2]

In Ireland and Quebec (Canada), the censors did not like the suggestions of divorce and cut the film to make it appear that Holden was single.[10]

Awards and honorsEdit

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients and nominees Result
Academy Awards March 21, 1956[11][12] Best Picture Buddy Adler Nominated
Best Actress in a Leading Role Jennifer Jones
Best Cinematography, Color Leon Shamroy
Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Color Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler and George Davis;
Set Decoration: Walter M. Scott and Jack Stubbs
Best Costume Design, Color Charles LeMaire Won
Best Sound Recording Carlton W. Faulkner, Twentieth Century-Fox Sound Department Nominated
Best Music, Original Song Music: Sammy Fain
Lyrics: Paul Francis Webster
For the song "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing"
Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture Alfred Newman


The music was initially commissioned from Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster as background music. It was extensively developed and woven into the film's orchestral score by Alfred Newman and his choral director Ken Darby. To make it eligible for the Best Original Song category of the Academy Awards lyrics were subsequently added. The original lyrics were rejected by the studio so new ones were written.[13] The resulting sentimental and upbeat song, "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" was one of the first songs written for a movie to become No. 1 in the charts in the same year.

The song was subsequently recorded by The Four Aces and also by Jerry Vale, Nat King Cole, Danny Williams, and Frank Sinatra, among others. Italian-language versions were recorded by Nancy Cuomo, Neil Sedaka, and Connie Francis. Francis also recorded the song with its original English lyrics, and a German-language version, Sag, weißt du denn, was Liebe ist.

Here is a sample of the song's lyrics:

Love is nature's way of giving
a reason to be living,
The golden crown that makes a man a king.

In the film, charged romantic moments occur on a high grassy, windswept hill in Hong Kong. In the bittersweet final scene on the hilltop, the song (heard on the sound track) recalls the earlier encounters:

Once on a high and windy hill,
In the morning mist, Two lovers kissed,
And the world stood still.

The theme song won the Academy Award for Best Song, and the recording by The Four Aces went to #1 on the charts for three weeks in 1955, shortly before rock and roll became a dominant force on the charts. Newman's orchestral score, which made heavy use of Fain's tune, also received an Oscar.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p. 249
  2. ^ a b Cohn, Lawrence (October 15, 1990). "All-Time Film Rental Champs". Variety. p. M170.
  3. ^ Epstein. Page 317.
  4. ^ Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing at the American Film Institute Catalog
  5. ^ Michelangelo Capua (2009). William Holden: A Biography. McFarland. pp. 87–90. ISBN 9780786444403.
  6. ^ Epstein. Page 321.
  7. ^ Foreign Correspondents' Club - History - 41A Conduit Road Archived 2014-05-17 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "The Repulse Bay's website - History". Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  9. ^ "Hong Kong (& Macau) Stuff: "Tai Pak Floating Restaurant, Aberdeen". 2009-09-10. Archived from the original on 2012-10-05. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  10. ^ "Censor Changes Plot". Variety. January 18, 1956. p. 1. Retrieved August 25, 2019 – via
  11. ^ "The 28th Academy Awards (1956) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-20.
  12. ^ "NY Times: Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
  13. ^ Epstein. Page 322.


External linksEdit