Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (Film): A Timeless Tale of Love and Prejudice

Jennifer Jones as Dr. Han Suyin Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, a 1955 Deluxe color American drama-romance film in CinemaScope, tells a captivating story set in 1949-50 in Hong Kong. The film revolves around the...

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (film) Jennifer Jones as Dr. Han Suyin

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, a 1955 Deluxe color American drama-romance film in CinemaScope, tells a captivating story set in 1949-50 in Hong Kong. The film revolves around the love between Mark Elliot, a married American reporter played by William Holden, and a Eurasian doctor from China named Han Suyin, portrayed by Jennifer Jones. Their love is faced with adversity as they encounter prejudice from both her family and Hong Kong society.

The film, directed by Henry King, is based on the 1952 autobiographical novel A Many-Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin. It explores themes of love, separation, and societal barriers. Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing later inspired a television soap opera in 1967, albeit without the hyphen in the title.

A Tale of Love and Persistence

The film follows the story of Han Suyin, a widowed Eurasian doctor, who falls deeply in love with Mark Elliott, an American correspondent. Their love blossoms amidst the backdrop of China's Civil War in the late 1940s. However, their happiness is short-lived as Han Suyin faces rejection from the greater Chinese community. After losing her position at the hospital, Han Suyin and her adopted daughter find solace with a friend while Mark is on assignment during the Korean War. Despite the distance, the couple remains connected through constant letters. Tragedy strikes when Han Suyin receives news of Mark's death and visits their favorite hilltop meeting place. In his final letter, Mark reminds her to be grateful for the love they shared, a "many-splendored thing" that not everyone gets to experience.

A Stellar Cast

The film features a stellar cast that brings the characters to life. Jennifer Jones delivers a remarkable performance as Dr. Han Suyin, capturing the complexities of her character with elegance and grace. William Holden portrays the conflicted Mark Elliott, and their chemistry on-screen adds depth to their love story. The supporting cast includes talented actors such as Torin Thatcher, Isobel Elsom, Murray Matheson, and Virginia Gregg, who contribute to the film's emotional resonance.

Behind the Scenes

The Foreign Correspondents' Club The Foreign Correspondents' Club portrayed as a hospital

The film's production faced challenges due to its themes of adultery and miscegenation, which caused issues with the Motion Picture Production Code approval. The screenplay, adapted by John Patrick, was completed after two weeks of location filming in Hong Kong. The decision to shoot on location was unusual for its time and added authenticity to the film. However, tensions arose on set between the lead actors, with Holden and Jones barely speaking to each other. Regardless of these challenges, the film was completed within the planned three-month schedule.

Critical Reception and Awards

Variety praised Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing as "beautiful" and "absorbing," highlighting its captivating narrative and performances. The film garnered rentals of $4 million in the United States and Canada, making it a commercial success.

The film received several award nominations, including Best Motion Picture at the Academy Awards. Jennifer Jones was nominated for Best Actress, and the film won Academy Awards for Best Costume Design and Best Song for the iconic title song, "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing." The song, composed by Sammy Fain and with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster, became a chart-topping hit.

The Timeless Melody of Love

The film's soundtrack, composed by Alfred Newman with contributions from Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, beautifully complements the emotional journey of the characters. The theme song, "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," became a chart-topping hit and won an Academy Award for Best Song. The Four Aces' rendition of the song soared to the top of the charts, capturing the hearts of listeners worldwide.

In Conclusion

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing continues to captivate audiences with its timeless tale of love and prejudice. Through the exceptional performances of Jennifer Jones and William Holden, the film explores the complexities of love in the face of societal barriers. Its beautiful cinematography, heartfelt story, and memorable soundtrack make it a classic that endures the test of time.


  • Epstein, Edward Z. (1995). Portrait of Jennifer Jones (Hardback). New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Biran, Misbach Yusa, ed. (1979). Apa Siapa Orang Film Indonesia 1926-1978 [What and Who: Film Figures in Indonesia, 1926-1978]. Sinematek Indonesia. OCLC 6655859.