Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955) starring William Holden, Jennifer Jones, Torin Thatcher, Isobel Elsom, Murray Matheson, Virginia Gregg directed by Henry King, Otto Lang Movie Review

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Jennifer Jones and William Holden in Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

Love Is Missing a Thing

I am sure I wouldn't be alone is saying that all "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" meant to me was the song which featured in "Grease". But having stumbled across and watched "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" it instantly reminded me of more recent movies, those adaptations of Nicolas Sparks' novels because it is a romantic drama with a twist. But sadly whilst feeling like a predecessor it most certainly isn't a good one and to be honest barely average with a list of issues which make it pleasant but unremarkable. And to be totally frank about the only thing which will stay with me having watched "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" is the song which whilst over used throughout the entire movie is simply quite beautiful.

Whilst posted in Hong Kong, American newsman Mark Elliott (William Holden - Sabrina) finds himself falling for the beautiful Dr. Han Suyin (Jennifer Jones - Duel in the Sun), a Eurasian working in Hong Kong before returning to China. Unhappily married and wanting a divorce Mark starts dating Suyin but between their friends trying to put them off as well as cultural differences it is a difficult romance right from the start let alone with the complication of war getting in their way.

Jennifer Jones and William Holden in Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

As is often the case with romantic movies "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" builds a storyline on the love from different classes issues. And so what we have here is American journalist Mark Elliot falling for Eurasian doctor Han Suyin and so find cultural problems spoiling thing. Those are not the only issues as Mark is unhappily married and wants a divorce and all their friends seem to be opposed to their romance, especially Mr. & Mrs. Palmer-Jones who will cause Suyin to lose her job if she carries on. It's all very obvious and weaves its way through a variety of slightly unbelievable romantic scenes as Mark and Suyin fall in love and tackle all the obstacles which come their way.

In a strange way if that was all there was to "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" it would have been very obvious but also in a gentle way entertaining. But there is a twist which tries to turn this simplistic romance into something more, something more emotional but frankly it doesn't work. The trouble is that everything about this twist is forced and very obvious, never really finding the right emotional level to get a response. So where you are probably meant to feel emotional about what happens you are just left numb and not by being shocked.

Part of the reason why this twist doesn't work is that the chemistry between the stars William Holden and Jennifer Jones is missing. Both Holden and Jones deliver entertaining characters with Holden doing a decent job of playing the persistent American whilst Jones has something quite sexy going on. But not once does it feel like they are falling in love and no matter how many times the wonderful song "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" is played it doesn't make it any more believable. And that is another issue as whilst a bit of fairytale romance never goes a miss there is too much which is unbelievable going on making it feel too staged.

There are some positives to "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" and the scenes shot in Hong Kong are just wonderful. From the hustle and bustle of the streets through to the skyline it is lovely and directors Henry King and Otto Lang have done a wonderful job of capturing the various locations and landscapes.

What this all boils down to is that "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" could have been quite a brilliant romantic drama which really had a sledge hammer emotional twist. But through various flaws from lack of chemistry to everything being obvious it just doesn't work. And as such "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" feels like a weaker version of a Nicolas Spark's novel.