Love is a Many Splendored Thing/C+,B+

Fox/1955/102m/WS 2.35

      A lush production filmed on location in Hong Kong, Love is a Many Splendored Thing is romance whipped up from the autobiographical work of Han Suyin, a Eurasian doctor. While working on the staff of a Hong Kong hospital, Suyin meets American correspondent Mark Elliott. The film cuts to the quick and the romance between the widowed doctor and the married but estranged correspondent blossoms fasters than tulip at the first warmth of Spring. The problems their romance encounters are truly dated, but you have to cut the filmmakers some slack and remember this was made in 1955.     

A beach rendezvous provides another photo op. ©Fox

     Jennifer Jones, playing Han Suyin, does not look remotely Eurasian, and this stood out annoyingly in some scenes when references are made to her "obvious" racial origins. That said, Jones brings a mature dignity to the character and the chemistry between her and William Holden, playing Elliott, is excellent.  Holden does a typically fine job of being charming and making himself fit in with his surroundings. Now, you know these two adults are having one hot affair and though little is depicted on the screen, the heat comes through. 
     The real stars of Love is a Many Splendored Thing are the glorious and exotic locations, the gorgeous costumes and the authentic sets. Director Henry King, Fox's top "A" list director, makes the most of his production team. Lots of sweeping harbor shots and views with boats in the background show off the postcard photography of Leonard Shamroy, veteran of many of Fox's biggest productions. To his credit, King keeps the story moving along with dispatch. 
    John Patrick, fresh from writing the script for Three Coins in the Fountain, lays on the soap opera flourishes. At least Patrick's screenplay doesn't lay on the sob songs too heavily, which prevents the film from breaking down into mordant slop emphasizing the racial differences between the characters. There's almost nothing cute in this script, almost no comic relief, and that's a relief in itself. The only truly embarrassing segment of the film is the mainland China scenes when Suyin returns to visit because of a family crisis. The title song, written by Sammy Fain and Paul Webster,  is expertly woven into the score by Alfred Newman. Both song and score won Academy Awards.      
     Transferred from vintage Cinemascope elements, the DVD color is delightfully vital. The filmmakers use a liberal dose of red in the production, and the DVD presents it with luster of a fresh poppy flower. Colors are very stable in scene transitions and no detectable color fringing is apparent. Though it's not an anamorphic transfer, detail is extracted with great success. Edge enhancement is minimal in complex long shots, but flicker and other annoying NTSC artifacts are practically eliminated. The old style stereo presentation has some dialogue from the left and right front speakers, but it is never disconcerting. The romantic music of Newman hangs in the air above the gorgeous vistas. 







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