Love is a many-splendored thing | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Love is a many-splendored thing

This film is set in Hong Kong, between 1949 and the start of the Korean War in 1950. It was filmed a few years later, and released in 1955.

As the opening credits roll, we're given an aerial view of Hong Kong Harbour. The camera starts above Green Island, then flies east along the harbour-front towards Central.

Then we move to street-level (02:00), following an ambulance along Queen's Road Central, past Central Market (02:13), then up until we arrive at the hospital.

The hospital

This is one of the main locations of the movie, as Dr Han Suyin, the female lead, works there.

Later we hear Suyin tell an old schoolmate: "I'm now a resident doctor here at the Victoria Hospital" (24:57). The view of the ambulance turning off the main road (02:28) does look similar to the area near the old Victoria Hospital, but when we see the building at 02:45, or from above at 42:15, it looks quite different from the photo I saw of the Victoria Hospital.

Does anyone know which building was used as the hospital for filming?

More locations to follow...

Further information:

Comments

The Hospital Scene was filmed at the Fairview which was situated at 41 Conduit Road. The Fairview was built by the wealthy Mok family in 1911. It was a grand palatial mansion built with Italian marble which overlooked the harbour and was the site of the Foreign Correspondent's Club after WWII.

In 1970, the site was re-developed and today's Realty Gardens stands in its place.

Sources: FCC in-House Magazine 'The Correspondent' Sep-Nov 2008

Peter Halliday: http://sunzi1.lib.hku.hk/hkjo/view/44/4400875.pdf

Dan Waters: http://sunzi1.lib.hku.hk/hkjo/view/44/4402533.pdf

Gillian Bickley: http://sunzi1.lib.hku.hk/hkjo/view/35/3500488.pdf

Scenes of the Farview: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDCompare6/loveisamany.htm

1955 Love is Many Splendored Thing - Hospital Scene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=624220&page=3

Thanks for the detailed reply.

Regards, David

This is where Suyin first meets Mark Elliott (William Holden), the male lead. They are at a party held in this mansion. Again, can anyone identify the building?

The Mansion

In the film, the mansion is the home of one of the directors of the hospital where Suyin works. The party is hosted by his wife, who turns out to be a nasty piece of work.

One I recognise at last! From 12:00 in the film, we see Mark & Suyin driving along the shoreline at Aberdeen, till they reach this pontoon for the Tai Pak floating restaurant:

Pontoon for Tai Pak floating restaurant

They catch a sampan to the restaurant, then eat dinner there.

The Tai Pak is still here today, but is overshadowed by its neighbour, the 'Jumbo' restaurant.

Hi there,

There used to be another floating restaurant called the Floating Palace (海上皇宮) other than the Jumbo, but the Palace had been sold and was tolled to Australia to it's new rightrul owner.

Also a reminder, the floating restaurants today are not in their original location.  Before the reclamation on both sides of the harbour and before the construction of the first Apleichau Bridge, the floating restaurants were located closer to the current site of the  Aberdeen Bus Terminus, west of the Apleichau Bridge and right in the middle of the channel.  The 1964 aerial photo book could be a good reference.

Best Regards,

T

1960s Sea Palace Floating Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1960s Sea Palace Floating Restaurant

 

Hi there,

Thanks for the update.  Obviously my memory was a bit shaky when I blurted out the name and I only got the [Palace] part right.

Best Regards,

T

Night view

1960s Tai Pak Floating Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day View (Dragon Boat Races)

1960s Tai Pak Floating Restaurant

From 23:20 we see Suyin walking along a street until she reaches a tea-shop window, stops to look, then goes inside.

Street outside tea shop

When she climbs upstairs we see a view from the window (23:39), showing Pottinger Street steps leading up from Queen's Road Central.

Tea shop on Queen's Rd C

On the left is the sign for the 'Sun Kin Kwok Studio'. The same sign also appears in one of Hedda Morrison's photos from 1946.

The scene inside the tea shop was very likely shot in a studio, so it's not clear to me whether the previous scene at street level was shot on Queen's Rd Central or not.

Hi there,

The location, at least for the camera capturing the scene being shown as the window appeared to be standing somewhere at the corner where the old Man Yee Building used to be.  It was there back in the 1950's, I think.  I could not recall whether the current Man Yee building had kept the old foundation stone.

Best Regards,

T

Well, it is not the Man Yee Building as it was built after the film was made.

The street scene outside the window is of Pottinger St but it looks like ,as you say, to be shot in a studio. Is it possible to have the shot of her walking along the street for comparison?

1950s Queens Rd C looking west. Pottinger St is on the left.

1950s Queen's Road Central (near Pottinger St)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1950s Pottinger St

1950s Pottinger St

I've edited the first 'tea shop' comment above to add a photo taken outside the tea shop.

Do you know when the previous Man Yee building was built? Some time soon I'll add the ability to set dates on places, so we can see when they were built and demolished.

By chance I was flipping through the 1955 Hong Kong Annual Report today, and found this section on page 177. It confirms this film was shot in early 1955:

During 1955 Hong Kong was chosen as the setting for three Hollywood productions. In the early months Twentieth-Century Fox sent two units to film location sequences for Soldier of Fortune and Love is a Many-Splendored Thing. A Sabre Productions unit arrived in mid-December to film Flight to Hong Kong, to be released through United Artists. Several documentary units visited the Colony, and a colour travelogue on Hong Kong was produced by the local Gainsborough Studio on behalf of Royal Interocean Lines.

Wikipedia suggests that the Man Yee Building was built in 1957.

According to Jennifer Jones' Biography timeline, the movie was filmed between March and June 1955.

William Holden's Biography records that he arrived in Hong Kong in March 1955 for 2 weeks location filming, The location filming was completed prior to the completion of the screenplay. Please see here As I understand, no dialogue scenes were shot in Hong Kong.

The gala premiere of Love is a Many-Splendored Thing was screened at the Roxy and Broadway Theatres on November 4, 1955

Mark & Suyin's next outing together is a trip to the beach. It seems that the director couldn't find a single location he liked for this sequence. Instead he filmed in three locations, then joined them together in the cutting room.

Initially we see them driving along Wong Ma Kok Road, with Stanley bay and village in the background. Here's the view at 29:21, with Maryknoll just visible in the very top left corner.

Stanley

They park the car there, and walk down the hillside towards the water.

But... when the camera switches to the view from the beach, it looks like this. I think it's the little beach on Middle Island, with the view through the gap towards Repulse Bay. It looks like the Lido on the right of the beach.

Middle Island

Suyin suggests they swim across the water to a friend's house. She describes it as "right across the bay", but I think she means across the narrow strip of water in the photo above.

However, as they approach the house, the coastline looks very different again!

Suyin's friend's house, "Arrowhead"

I'm not so sure where this third location is. Maybe along the shore between Repulse Bay and Middle Bay?

Hi there,

I think it's more likely one of the building on the Eastern side of Deep Water Bay/Island Road.  The screen capture of the movie showed some sort of a skyline at the top.  If it was somewhere between the Repulse Bay and Middle Bay, it doesn't seem to match the landscape.  You have the Twins at the back that way.

T

It's worth mentioning that all of the scenes containing dialog were shot in a studio. For interior locations with a "live" background, the background scenes were shot on location and then back-projected while the studio scene was being filmed back in the US.

So, with the tea shop scene, it is perfectly possibly that the scene of Suyin entering the shop could have been a very different location to that used for the back projection.

Phil, you hit the nail on the head. I had difficulty in locating the tea shop scene as it did not quite match the Pottinger St view. My guess is that the street scene was shot on Queen's Rd C but to the east of Pedder Street.

Some nice shots of 1955 Hong Kong, the year the film was made. Note the Pottinger St view: http://www.memoriesofkorea.com/?p=96

good find Moddsey, but there was also a real location featured for some of those scenes (and used as the back projection for hills) which was actually at what was then called Fox Ranch, but is now known as Malibu Creek State Park (same place they used to film M.A.S.H).

The tea shop scene at street level I reckon, was taken on the southern side of Queen's Rd C looking west towards Pedder St and the former Queen's Theatre.

The building on the right with the advertisement signs on its pillars would be the site of the present day Landmark (or is it a hotel once again?) with the China Building in the middle facing Pedder St.

A comparison photo below showing the junction of Queen's Rd C with Pedder St but looking in the opposite direction.

1950s Junction of Queen's Rd C and Pedder St

 

Hi there,

There is an entry in the Chinese version of Wiki saying in the 1950's the site at the corner of Pedder & Queen's was the Hong Kong Hotel, the first five star hotel in time of the time.  The site is now occupied by the Central Building.

The Landmark is right behind it with Mandarin Oriental occupying part of a tower of the Landmark.  Yes, there are two Mandarin Orientals in Central now.

Best Regards,

T

Suyin walks out from the hospital, and apparently looks up to a tree on a hilltop, a short distance away. She has an appointment to meet Mark here. Here's the view a little later (43:23), as they walk up to the hilltop together:

Tree on hilltop

It's clear this isn't the view you'd see a short distance above Conduit Road, but I thought it could be another hilltop somewhere in Hong Kong. It turns out it's not in Hong Kong at all - see Phil's notes above.

Also, though in this shot I think they are really walking up a hill, it's clear from the shot Moddsey links to that other times we see Suyin near a tree, it may well have been shot in a studio.

This hilltop is also the setting for the closing scenes of the film.

The shot above was on location in California. It's a tracking shot that involves no dialog.

The dialog scenes around the tree were filmed in the studio as Moddsey's picture testifies.

I thought for a long time that the location was perhaps in the NT (it's just too expansive to be anywhere on HK Island) until I listened to the DVD commentary and the Fox Ranch was revealed as the location.

Kai Tak makes several appearances. Here's the first, at 49:36. Su Yin walks out from the Customs building, then over to the plane that will fly her to Chung King.

Kai Tak Airport

Shortly after, at 50:55, we see the plane descending, supposedly into Chung King airport. But given the difficulty of filming in Chung King in 1955, I guess it is actually another shot of Kai Tak. Phil, does the commentary make any mention of this?

At 1:00:25 we definitely see Kai Tak again, as Mark (who had flown to Chung King separately) and Su Yin return to Hong Kong.

The third and final time is at 1:03:31, where Su Yin stands waiting to meet Mark after he's flown back to Hong Kong from Singapore, where he went to meet his wife. We see him disembark from a PAA plane, the 'Clipper Mercury'.

The commentary basically says what you have already guessed - that filming in China in 1955 was a non-starter and so they simply obscured the view of the airport in that scene by sticking a wooden hut in the way with "Chung King" written on the side.

However, the background in those shots makes me wonder if they snuck off to Shek Kong for that scene? There's no mention in the commentary.

Phil, thanks for checking.

Given the scale of the airport in the shot, and the built-up areas in the background, I'll vote for Kai-tak as the location for the 'Chungking' airport.

David, could you post a view of the plane's descent into Chungking ('Kai Tak') for comparison? Cheers.

The Terminal Building was built in 1947 and became disused in 1959 after the enlargement of Kai Tak and the building of the reclaimed runway.

1957

1950s Kai Tak Airport Seawall Terminal Building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1960 (prior to its demolition)

1960 Kai Tak Airport Seawall Terminal Building

 

 

Moddsey, here's the shot at 50:55, showing the plane coming in to land:

"Chung King Airport"

Then at 51:18 Suyin is walking away from the plane, parked in front of the 'Chungking' hangar. Are these buildings recognisable?

"Chung King Airport"

Yes, the views are distinctly Kai Tak from the 1950s. The long shot view shows an aircraft landing on Runway 13 over today's San Po Kong.

The bottom view shows a Civil Air Transport (CAT) Curtiss Commando C-46 parked outside the Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (HAEC) hangar.

A long shot view of Kai Tak from the 1950s. The HAEC hangar is the black structure in the centre of photo.

1950s Kai Tak (long shot)

Thanks for clearing that up.

Taken from the Ocean Park Cable Car

2008 Middle Island

2009 Middle Island Beach Scene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009 Middle Island Beach Scene

After Su Yin meets Mark at Kai Tak, they drive back to Hong Kong island. No tunnels in those days, so we see them on board the vehicular Ferry to Central.

It starts with a view of another ferry leaving the pier:

Vehicular Ferry Pier, Central

Then there's a studio shot of them talking in their car on the ferry. Finally there's this view from the ferry as they draw near to the pier.

Vehicular Ferry Pier, Central

One odd thing, it looks as though the film in the first sequence was flipped from left to right. Compare it with this view (not taken from the film):

1950s Central Praya & Vehicular Ferry pier

Also, the pillbox should be on the Western tip of the U-shaped pier (on the right as we look at it). That's where it is on the second, close-up photo, but on the first photo it appears to be on the left.

I recognise the view from the middle photo on the right hand side (the ambulance passing a parked black car) I'm pretty sure it is just in front of Victoria Flats on Barket Road, the site of the actual hospital. I used live in the flats there and I remebmer the view and wall.I think they must have had a shot edited in before the Fairview ones.

Hi there,

For that particular section of the film as shown in the first capture I believe they have flipped the film over when during editing and nobody spotted it.  As you can see the skyline is not right.

Best Regards,

T

Charles, I think you're on to something. If you look at the six-frame photo in moddsey's first post, the view of Kowloon in centre-left photo is quite different from the view in the three photos in the right column. It does suggest they were filmed in different places.

Sorry T, which is the section of skyline you think looks wrong? My eyes are getting cross-eyed from looking at too many photos!

Regards, David

Hi there,

I should have quoted it earlier.  I mean this screen capture, the one you mentioned the pillbox:

http://gwulo.com/node/4377

Best Regards,

T

This site is valuable and full of interesting information. Whilst cataloguing some old travel photos, I came across what I thought was an Aberdeen landmark but, on reading the comments here, maybe I'm mistaken. Any insights into where this shot is taken? It was during a Hong Kong trip in January 1976. Thanks. P.S. If only I could figure out how to insert the pic!

Apologies, I should have read the FAQ first. Now, here is the picture I thought was an Aberdeen floating restaurant in 1976, as per my previous question

Floating Restaurant
.

Hi there,

The photo is of the Tai Pak, one of the three floating restaurants in Aberdeen back then.

Best Regards,

T

We've been sent some interesting information about the house that they swim over to in this scene. As Thomas said, it was on the eastern side of Deep Water Bay.

Anonymous writes:

Been trying to find out the brand of the car (and vintage) used in the movie Love is a Many Splendored Thing - thought it may be a Bentley, but perhaps not

GeoffWhere replied:

Looks too small to me for a Bentley, more like a Riley or Austin but can't find a match for these brands. Some sleepless nights ahead . . .

Maybe a Singer Nine Roadster? (The bonnet louvres might not be right)

The car surely is a Sunbeam, a pre-war Talbot, I think.

 

As to the tree behind the hospital, if you read Dr Han's book, her meeting place with Ian Morrison was in fact the conduit path, the early contour water course that supplied the city from Pokfulam reservoir.  There is no open hillside behind Queen Mary but steep rocky and shrub covered slopes.

Landing in Chungking would in fact have been on the airstrip on Pei Hsi, an island in the Yangtse, now straddled by a bridge.  Does anyone have a photo of it?

 

Photo here.

In this shot, we see the ferry leaving Central for Kowloon, whereas it should be the other way round, as they've just come from Kai Tak airport and going to HK island.

I read the posts on this film with avid interest particularly The Tree Scene(s).

I could not get Moddsey's link to work (maybe it is now broken).

Do we therefore conclude that the background scenery for the tree scenes is not in Hong Kong at all but in California, and that the tree was just a studio creation? 

Or, more romantically, which I much prefer to believe, there really was a tree which is still growing on a hillside in Hong Kong (or even California) just waiting to be discovered. If so where is it? I would like to travel there with my Hong Kong wife.     

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