The World of Suzie Wong (film) | Wikipedia audio article


The World of Suzie Wong is a 1960 British-American
romantic drama film directed by Richard Quine. The screenplay by John Patrick was adapted
from the stage play by Paul Osborn, which was based on the novel of the same title by
Richard Mason. The film starred William Holden and Nancy
Kwan.==Plot==
American architect Robert Lomax is an aspiring artist who relocates to Hong Kong for a year
to see if he can make a living as a painter. Whilst aboard the Star Ferry, en route to
Hong Kong Island, he surreptitiously sketches fellow passengers, including a smartly dressed
young woman of seemingly lofty social status. She eventually introduces herself as Mei Ling,
then accuses him of stealing her purse and demands his arrest. Fortunately, an independent witness informs
the police officer of the true circumstances, and the situation is resolved. They eventually shake hands then go their
separate ways. With limited financial resources, Robert looks
for an inexpensive room in the teeming Wan Chai district, a poor area known for prostitution. By chance, he sees Mei Ling leaving a run-down
hotel there. Inside, he astounds proprietor Ah Tong by
renting a room for one whole month – rather than by the hour, as is more usual. In a bar next door, he is bemused to see Mei
Ling again, this time dressed in a slinky red cheongsam and in the company of a sailor. He approaches her; she now says her name is
Suzie Wong, and that they have never met before. Eventually, Suzie admits who she is, laughing
that she had him fooled for a while. The following day, Robert visits a banker
to set up an account. The banker’s secretary and daughter, Kay O’Neill,
is immediately attracted to the newcomer. Robert asks Suzie to model for him. As they become better acquainted, he learns
she was forced into her profession as a means of survival, when she was ten years old. She begins falling in love with him, but he
tries to dissuade her, although he finds her very appealing. Meanwhile, he is also pursued discreetly by
Kay. At a dinner party she is hosting, Robert meets
Ben Marlowe, whom he recognizes as one of Suzie’s clients, with his wife. Ben offers to make Suzie his mistress, and
she accepts in order to make Robert jealous. When Ben reconciles with his wife, he asks
Robert to break the news to Suzie. She is so hurt by the rejection that Robert
finally admits he loves her. Initially, the two are very happy, but their
relationship becomes strained. One day, Robert follows Suzie on one of her
periodic disappearances. He finds her visiting the infant son she has
kept hidden from him. He accepts the child. When his paintings fail to sell, he finds
himself facing financial difficulties, and both Kay and Suzie offer to give him money,
but his pride will not let him accept. When Suzie pays his rent and offers to resume
prostitution to help him, he drives her away in a fit of anger. Realizing his mistake, Robert searches for
Suzie. When he finally finds her, he learns her baby
has died in the annual flooding, and the two commit themselves to each other.==Production==France Nuyen, who had played the role of Suzie
Wong in the Broadway production opposite William Shatner and was familiar to film audiences
from her appearance in South Pacific, originally signed to reprise the role on screen. After five weeks of location shooting in Hong
Kong, the cast and crew – including original director Jean Negulesco – moved to London
to film interiors. Nuyen was involved romantically with Marlon
Brando at the time, and his rumoured affair with Barbara Luna was causing her distress. She began to overeat, and before long was
unable to fit into the body-hugging silk cheongsams her character was required to wear. Unwilling to halt production until she could
get her weight under control, executive producer Ray Stark replaced her with Nancy Kwan, who
was touring the United States and Canada as the understudy to the lead in the road company
performing the play. Stark had auditioned her for the film but
at the time thought she was too inexperienced to handle the lead.Stark also fired Negulesco
and replaced him with Richard Quine. Everyone involved in the completed Hong Kong
scenes was required to return to reshoot them with Kwan, and all the unpublished publicity
with Nuyen, including an article and photo layout for Esquire, had to be redone.The film’s
title song was written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen. Artist Dong Kingman acted as the film’s technical
advisor and painted sets for the film. The movie features location filming in Hong
Kong, and art direction and production design by John Box, Syd Cain, Liz Moore, Roy Rossotti
and R.L.M. Davidson at the MGM British Studios. The film premiered at Radio City Music Hall
in New York City.==Cast==
William Holden as Robert Lomax Nancy Kwan as Suzie Wong
Sylvia Syms as Kay O’Neill Michael Wilding as Ben Marlowe
Laurence Naismith as O’Neill Andy Ho as Ah Tong
Jacqui Chan as Gwennie Lee Yvonne Shima as Minnie Ho==
Locations==Although set in Wanchai, the film featured
locations from around Hong Kong, sometimes misrepresenting their geographical proximity
for cinematic effect. The film serves as a valuable historical record
of 1960s Hong Kong. Locations seen in the film include Tsim Sha
Tsui, Central/Sheung Wan (especially around Ladder Street), Yau Ma Tei, Sai Ying Pun,
Aberdeen and Telegraph Bay.==Critical reception and reputation==
The film is rated 43% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes based on seven reviews with an average rating
of 5.8 out of 10. 68% of the audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes
said they liked it with an average score of 3.7 out of 5.When the film was released it
attracted a mixed response. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times observed
that sceptics could assume “that what we have here is a tale so purely idealized in the
telling that it wafts into the realm of sheer romance. But the point is that idealization is accomplished
so unrestrainedly and with such open reliance upon the impact of elemental clichés that
it almost builds up the persuasiveness of real sincerity. Unless you shut your eyes and start thinking,
you might almost believe it to be true.” He added, “Mr. Patrick’s screenplay contrives
such a winning yum-yum girl that, even if she is invented, she’s a charming little thing
to have around . . . And a new girl named Nancy Kwan plays her so blithely and innocently
that even the ladies should love her. She and the scenery are the best things in
the film.”Variety said, “Holden gives a first-class performance, restrained and sincere. He brings authority and compassion to the
role. Kwan is not always perfect in her timing of
lines (she has a tendency to anticipate) and appears to lack a full range of depth or warmth,
but on the whole she manages a fairly believable portrayal.”Some years after the film’s release,
the London listing magazine Time Out commented that because the film is “denied the chance
of being honest about its subject, it soon degenerates into euphemistic soap opera, with
vague gestures towards bohemianism and lukewarm titillation.”In 2013, the Japanese American
Citizens League called out the film as part of “a persistent strain in our culture that
refuses to move beyond the stereotype of Asian women as exotic and subservient.”==
Awards and nominations==Nancy Kwan was nominated for the Golden Globe
Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama but lost to Greer Garson in Sunrise
at Campobello. George Duning was nominated for the Golden
Globe Award for Best Original Score but lost to Dimitri Tiomkin for The Alamo.==DVD release==
The film was released on Region 1 DVD on June 29, 2004. It is in anamorphic widescreen format with
an audio track and subtitles in English.==See also==
List of American films of 1960

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