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Film / Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

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Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing is a 1955 American romantic drama film directed by Henry King, based on the 1952 autobiographical novel A Many-Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin.

Set in 194950 in Hong Kong during the Chinese Civil War, the film tells the story of married, but separated, American reporter Mark Elliott (William Holden), who falls in love with Eurasian doctor Han Suyin (Jennifer Jones). Although they find happiness together, Han is ostracized and prejudiced by her family and by the greater Chinese community.

Nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning for Alfred Newman's music score, Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster's Title Theme Tune, and Charles LeMaire's costume design.

The film later inspired the 196773 CBS Soap Opera Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (notice that it's written without the hyphen), which at first was a sort of Spin-Off that centered around Mia Elliott, the daughter of Mark and Han, going to San Francisco to live with her father's family; however, around half a year in the character was written out (due at least in part to network censors' concerns over having an interracial couple as the leads) and the show focused afterwards on the Elliott and Donnelly families.

This film contains examples of:

  • But Not Too Foreign: The movie goes out of its way to state that Han Suyin is Eurasian, that is, is a person of mixed Asian and European ancestry.
  • Cartwright Curse: Han is already a widow. Meeting Mark brings her out of her sadness—and he dies too.
  • Comforting the Widow: Han Suyin was a widow by the time Mark met and fell in love with her.
  • Heroic BSoD: Han wanders the streets of Hong Kong in a daze after receiving word that Mark has been killed.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Han Suyin's family and Chinese society as a whole ostracize her due to her relationship with the Caucasian Mark Elliott. And as indicated by several snide comments, white society isn't too pleased either.
  • Match Cut: From the bomb being dropped on Mark somewhere in Korea, to a spilled cup at Suyin's house, signaling that Mark is dead.
  • Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: Caucasian Mark Elliott hooks up with the beautiful, submissive and exotic Eurasian Han Suyin.
  • Mixed Ancestry is Attractive: The film goes out of its way to state that Han Suyin is an exotic Eurasian beauty.
  • Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: An unconventional one in that Han and Mark swim across a bay to meet some of her friends, and take a rowboat back.
  • Pass Fail: Suzanne, one of Suyin's schoolmates who is also biracial, is passing as a white person and recommends that Suyin do the same.
  • Scenery Porn: Like Sayonara, another movie about a mixed-race relationship set in an Asian country, the movie has some really lovely color photography.
  • Shirtless Scene: Mark gets one on the beach with Han Suyin.
  • Smoking Is Glamorous: This movie does that old trick where the male character uses the lit cigarette in his mouth to light the one in the woman's mouth.
  • Yellowface: Jennifer Jones dons yellowface to portray Han Suyin. Sometimes. Sometimes she just looks like Jennifer Jones decided to just wear a Qipao for some reason.