The World of Suzie Wong (1960) | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

The World of Suzie Wong (1960)

Filmed in 1960 and starring William Holden and Nancy Kwan, the story (based on the 1957 book by Richard Mason) tells us about Robert Lomax, an American Architect, who has thrown it all in and moved to HK to pursue a living as a painter. He falls in love with a local prostitute who frequents the hotel he has dossed down in.

According to reports, the HK locations had to be shot twice. Originally filmed with France Nuyen in the title role, off-screen drama saw her replaced by Kwan well into shooting. As a result the production team had to return to HK and re-film all the scenes with Kwan.

Been sitting on this one for a while so figured I would make a start. More to follow...


The film starts with Lomax arriving at the docks (Ocean Terminal) and walking from the dock towards the Star Ferry terminal in TST.

Suzie Wong TST







Suzie Wong TST







On the way he passes a loading derrick and you can see the train track on the ground which was the extension of the railway from the KCR terminus at TST.

Suzie Wong - Cruise Terminal







In the photo above we can see the metal gates through which the track ran. To the right of the gate is the small building with a sign saying "Customs Office" and to the right of that the gateway to the Hongkong Ferry.

Suzie Wong - Cruise Terminal







Once through the gateway we see Lomax walking towards the ferry terminal

with the (soon to be turned into a plaza) Bus terminus in the background as well as the single-storied Star House.

Suzie Wong TST Bus Terminus







Next we enter the ferry terminal. I'm not sure if the following shot is in a studio or actually in the terminal, so am hoping someone can confirm one way or another.

Suzie Wong - Star Ferry







And we have a panning shot of a girl looking through the window as the ferry comes into dock.

Suzie Wong - Star Ferry







The final shot involves some dialog between Lomax and Wong. Like other films of this era, this would have been a studio scene with the background projected onto a screen behind the actors. However, you still get a nice view of the Island in the background.

Suzie Wong - Star Ferry







Next HK side...

The film continues with the Star ferry ("Radiant Star" in case you were wondering - I believe this ferry along with the other 50/60's era boats were replaced by the current floating stock in 1966) arriving at the Central star ferry pier.

Star Ferry - Central







We then get a nice shot of the pier building from the front.

Star Ferry - Central







Followed by another shot a bit further along.

Star Ferry - Central

After disembarking from the Star Ferry on the Island, our intrepid hero wanders across Connaught Road and heads to a policeman to ask directions to Wanchai.

On the way we see several sights including a 1960 view of the harbour front.

Suzie Wong - Connaught Road







Please feel free to start naming any buildings in the background and I can add them as a place on the main article above.

We also see the front facade of Queens Buildings with the famous Cooks sign, as well as some interesting 1960s road lights.

Suzie Wong - Connaught Road







Then Lomax walks past some rickshaws parked on what appears to be the central reservation (it looks as though that is where the camera was put for the filming) and we get some snippets of Princes Building, The Chartered Bank (as it was back then) and the HSBC HQ.

Suzie Wong - Connaught Road







Suzie Wong - Statue Square







Suzie Wong - Statue Square

After finding out how to get to Wanchai, Lomax heads there and finds the Nam Kok Hotel (I believe it was supposedly based on the Luk Kwok Hotel in the book?). Coincidentally it is also the hotel at which Suzie Wong plies her trade.

Of course, film being film and the illusion of Wanchai was created using two very separate locations. The first being the area around Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Rd and Ladder Street which served as the location of the hotel. Secondly, the film crew upped sticks and also filmed over in Yau Ma Tei next to temple street to recreate another part of the area.

Suzie Wong - "Wanchai"







The above shot is just prior to the scene moving to Hollywood Rd. Actually I have no idea if this was in the vicinity. [edit: Thomas has been able to confirm this was in fact Centre St in Sai Ying Pun, and in fact HKMan provides us with a modern comparison here: ]

Next we see the hotel. Actually even today the location is very similar despite the original building being replaced. Personally I've never seen it so busy.

Suzie Wong - Nam Kok Hotel






Here is a link to HKMan's take on the scene:

At this point in the film, Lomax sees Wong step onto a rickshaw and get pulled away. The scene cuts to Yau Ma Tei where he sees the rickshaw disappearing into the crowds.

Suzie Wong - "Wanchai"







Again, HKMan provides us with a modern day comparison:

Once settled into the Hotel, Lomax heads to the roof and takes in the view and unpolluted air.

Sorry about the quality but you can still spot some details in these pictures.

Suzie Wong - Hotel rooftop







Nothing stands out on this first picture too much apart from the unmistakeable rooftops of shop houses and the blue funnel of the ship. I have no idea if this was filmed in the same location on Hollywood Rd, but perhaps the next shot will be assist in identifying it.

Suzie Wong - Hotel rooftop







On this shot we can see a dome to the left of Holden's legs, in fact it looks like a double dome as there seems to be another on the far left. I'm not too familar with these buildings but maybe this will be instantly recognisable by someone else. The roads in the distance, perpendicular to the harbour front could possibly be Cleverly St/Hillier St?.

We also see the scene behind the roof top. However, we mustn't assume it was filmed at the same location.

Suzie Wong - Hotel rooftop







Either way there is a rather modern looking (remember this was 1960) tower block in the background as well as an astounding lack of mountains. Perhaps this is a more westerly view? Also you should notice the church in the background - this to me looks like Hop Yat Church on Caine Rd. If it is then this confirms the westerly view as Hop Yat faces east. I suspect that this last shot is actually a studio based back projection with the reconstructed railings - this would be the only way (in 1960 at least) to recreate the scene so they could film Holden directly from the front.

Actually, if that is Hop Yat Church, then the angle seems correct for this background scene to have been shot in the vicinity of the Hollywood Rd/Ladder Street intersection.

Next, a trip to the bank...

Lomax isn't doing so well with his freelance painting, so he decides to make a trip to the bank to try and get a loan until he can start selling his artwork.

So he leaves the hotel and jumps on a rickshaw on Ladder St. Plenty of hustle and bustle including a retro 7-UP sign.

Suzie Wong - Ladder St







The rickshaw driver is obviously mixing his 7UP with some stronger stuff because he  turns left onto Hollywood Rd, which of course is the wrong direction for the bank. Maybe Lomax's Cantonese skills aren't quite up to the job? Once again the quality of the snap lets me down here because there are lots of local drink adverts which are too blurred to make out.

Suzie Wong - Hollywood Rd







Finally we arrive at the bank, Lomax is no doubt a bit lighter in the pocket after being taken the long way. Here we see him on Queens Road right outside the Chartered Bank. A scene not too far from the current view today. In the background we can see the Law Courts as well as the previous HSBC building and just in the background, although too oblique a view to be of any use, is the Old Bank of China building. The steps to the right lead to the front doors of the Chartered Bank.

Suzie Wong - Queens Road







The final external shot shows the front doors in their full glory, complete with brass plaque on the wall.

Suzie Wong - Chartered Bank


I've posted this one before, but here it is again because the scene is just after the bank scene and I think was intended to add a bit of local colour - in this :)

Lomax is relaxing in the hotel at night and looks down to the buskers on the steps of the temple.

Man Mo Temple Postbox

An international film set in HK wouldn't be worth the celluloid it was filmed on unless it featured Aberdeen Harbour at some point or another. Suzie Wong is no different and the harbour is featured as the two main parts spend some time together on a day off (such is the nature of their respective freelance occupations).

The following scenes are in sequential order and show off the harbour quite well. I'm not so familiar with the harbour but I suspect some artistic license has been used in terms of the actual locations as the characters journey around the place.

Suzie Wong - Aberdeen







Suzie Wong - Aberdeen







Suzie Wong - Aberdeen







It looks as though the shoot was split over more than one session because the shots move from misty and grey in one to bright and sunny in the next.

Suzie Wong - Aberdeen







The shot above looks as though it has just managed to capture the Aberdeen Seminary on the small hill to the right of William Holden?

Suzie Wong - Aberdeen







The sea palace. I believe Thomas has already mentioned that this was towed to Australia?

Their final destination is actually the Tai Pak. I believe it was also a favourite haunt of William Holden's in real life.

Finally they board the Tai Pak. Supposedly the same restaurant that still sits in the harbour today.

Love is a Many-Splendored Thing - Aberdeen Tai Pak






Some more info here:

The next part of the film has Lomax being visited by the daughter of the bank manager (the one he went to ask for a loan from). She's interested in his artwork but also quite interested in him too. The scene shows her driving her rather flashy white two-seater down Square St and onto Ladder St.

On film we can see the old style road signs that identify the roads.

Suzie Wong - Square St








Lots of locals "breaking the fourth wall" in these scenes. Also look closely and you will see a couple of policeman on the corner. I wonder if they were there by chance or whether they were part of the crowd control.

Suzie Wong - Square St







Later on we see another shot on the hotel roof as Lomax paints Suzie's portrait. Lots more to see in the background this time as the angle is slightly different to the earlier rooftop scenes.

Suzie Wong - Hotel rooftop

Suzie keeps disappearing off on her own and doesn't want to tell Lomax where she is going, so one day he does a sneaky beaky and follows her.

We see some great shots of the stairway on Ladder Street including the old balustrades.

Suzie Wong - Ladder St







Suzie Wong - Ladder St







Suzie Wong - Ladder St







But then the location seems to change to (and I am just making an uneductaed guess here) the area around Braemar Hill. The reason I say this is because in the second shot below you can see what looks to be the white pagoda of Tiger Balm Gardens.

Suzie Wong - Braemar Hill?







Suzie Wong - Braemar Hill?







So it looks as though the shanty town that Suzie is heading into was on the northern slopes of Braemar Hill. Suzie's secret? She has a small baby but doesn't want Lomax to know.

Once Suzie's secret is out, and Lomax isn't put off by it, everything is wonderful and so they spend a day together with baby somewhere on the coast before returning to the hotel.

Actually, I have no idea where this was filmed but it looks as though it could be pretty much anywhere along the coast. My best guess would be somewhere in Port Shelter.

Suzie Wong - day out with the baby







Suzie Wong - day out with the baby







The day finishes back outside the Tin Hau Temple in Yau Ma Tei (remember the film makers want you to believe this is in the vicinity of the hotel)

Suzie Wong - day out with the baby

We see a bit more of the surrounding area in the next part of the film. Suzie has gone missing and Lomax tries to find her.

Here is another shot of the red pillar box next to man Mo Temple. In fear of sounding like a complete anorak (my reputation is already in tatters after the incident with the Aberdeen Harbour map), note the hexagonal top of the old fire hydrant. I've seen one of these along Nathan Road in Yau ma Tei quite recently. I guess they haven't quite managed to change them all yet.

Suzie Wong - Hollywood Rd







Some more shots of Square St/Ladder St as well. Here is another version of the shot below, provided by HKMan on FLICKR:

Suzie Wong - Ladder St







Suzie Wong - Ladder St

Well, they have a bit of a bust up and Suzie disappers and Lomax spends a frantic few days searching high and low for her, looking increasingly dishevelled as the time wears on.

First we see him running across Johnston Rd in wanchai in the pouring rain.

Suzie Wong - Johnston Road







Suzie Wong - Johnston Road







Actually, our old friend HKMan on FLICKR did a fine jog identifying this location and has done his usual now/then comparison. Looks to me as though that electrical box is still in-situ:

Next we see a wide shot of the harbour. Centre of screen looks like Statue Sq and surrounding buildings. Does anyone know what the red-coloured building on the left is?

Suzie Wong - Harbour







Then we see Lomax wandering next to the waterfront with a "Far Eastern Motors Ltd" behind him. Does anyone know where this is. I think someone may have done a now/then shot of this particular scene, but I can't remember where I have seen it.

Suzie Wong - Far Eastern Motors







He also goes looking along the bar strips and in particular down the road shown below. Vanessa has confirmed that the Magpie Bar was at 65 Lockhart Road, Wanchai. So it was indeed a real place.

Suzie Wong - Tops Bar







Well, all good things come to an end and we finish off with a shot of the 1960's version of Ferry Street in Yau Ma Tei. It does actually look as though there used to be a temple here.

Suzie Wong - Ferry Street







HKMan has provided us with another now/then so you can see for yourself how much it has changed:

It looks as though it was filmed near where Ferry Street intersects with Kansu St.

Hi there,

I wonder if the island in the background is the Lamma Island.  If so, the location of the scene  migjt be somewhere around the then Telegraph Bay.

Best Regards,


I think you are right. That is Lamma Island in the background.

Thomas, does that mean the spit of land at the left is where Bel-Air on the Peak now sits? Phil

Hi there,

I believe so.  I remember seeing another photo of the same hill shot from another location in Pokfulam.

Best Regards,


Click onto the FCC Magazine:

Wing Lee St is also given a mention.

I think Tops bar is still there - on Lockhardt road or somewhere there - between empire hotel and Luk kwok hotel

Hongkong looks so different in the film! reminds me of when I first visited it. If someone had told me at that time that it would become so modern and organised, I don't think I would have believed it!

Since then, I have returned almost every 4 months, to find something or the other changed.

The RTHK 'Hong Kong Heritage' program has an interview with Nancy Kwan. Click to listen.

The World of Suzy Wong

Hi Phil

David has drawn my attention to your excellent article on the locations for the 1960s film.  Abbreviating the plot and introducing appropriate images of the scenes was a great idea - and inviting others to contribute 'now' comparisons was well worthwhile. I wish that I'd seen it when the correspondence was still 'live'.  Thank you and the others for clarifying where the scenes were shot and, of course, David for hosting the discussion.

Best wishes Andrew

Hi Andrew, thanks for the kind words. Yes, the film stuff has been very interesting, but the problem was that I started to find too many other films to look at and ended up putting them all over at my blog so that Gwulo could remain a little more focussed. I recently updated the screenshots: 

The local HK film industry aside, I was surprised how many films were made here by overseas production companies throughout the 60's and 70's.



In his post of 6-2-2010 Philk asks what the red-coloured building in his third "still" is. It's the north wing of Caine House, Police HQ                          ( ).

thanks gw - a 5 year old mystery finally solved :-)

Any idea why it had a red paint job?

Hi Phil

This photograph appears in my 1958 folder.  It was taken outside the China Fleet Club at the extreme West end of the Gloucester Road. I think the red colour was just to add a bit of colour to the building!  In a slightly different context, I am pretty sure that the building between the China Fleet Club and the Mission to Seamen building (that I had a thought might be a police station) was simply an extension to the former.

Best wishes  Andrew

Wan Chai. Gloucester Road quay, China Fleet Club.JPG
Wan Chai. Gloucester Road quay, China Fleet Club.JPG, by Andrew Suddaby



With your excellent knowledge of Hong Kong films, you might be able to identify a film that was made in either very late 1987 or early 1988.  All I know is that it is said to have featured the 'blowing up' of the old R.A.F. buildings at Little Sai Wan in some sort of climax.  It was possibly made by the Shaw brothers and might have been in the Kung Fu genre.   A few months ago I sent an email to that company but didn't receive a reply.  I'd love to see that sequence if it still exists. Any thoughts? Andrew

Hi Andrew, off the top of my head I don't know - the number of local films is staggering but the year will help in narrowing it down. Shaws dropped out of film production in 1984 to concentrate on TV so I doubt it was one of their productions. Golden Harvest were busy at this time so it could easily have been one of theirs. I'll have a dig around and see what I can find.



Hello Phil

I realise it's a long shot but If you can find anything I'd be really pleased to see it.

Happy hunting. Andrew

Interesting article in a recent edition of the Nikkei Asian Review recounting an interview conducted in 1987 with Richard Mason, the author who created the story of Suzie Wong

Scrolling through these old photos gave me a shock - the girl at the Star Ferry watching the ferry come in is me !!  I remember the filming very well as I was crazy about movies in those days and went down to the Star Ferry to watch the "stars" come and go as well as to other locations whenever I could.  I also saw William Holden several times during that period and encountered film crew for different films on the Peak Tram over the years.  I used to take the tram daily after school for ballet or music lessons and filming often occurred during normal tram rides, thus the public were usually in the shot.  William Holden rented a house, I think at Deep Water Bay, and from memory I was told it was Eucliffe.  Not sure if that is correct.  It is a joy to see the shots in this post - I have very clear memories of Hong Kong as it was then.  Thank you to those responsible.


Hi Andrew,

If you go onto Google maps, street view and look at the front of what was Wanchai Police Station looking west - I think you can see that the pale blue and cream building where the chap is cycling looks like the same building? It seems some columns have been added to the front?  Those must be the Tamar Dock buildings and derricks in the background and you can just make out one of the Bank buildings which overlooked the Hong Kong Cricket ground at that time!

Hello Bails

The pale blue and cream building in my photograph, next to the man on the bicycle, is the old China Fleet Club building.  It stood on the corner of Gloucester Road and Arsenal street, so it is not the police station.  That was, and maybe still is, quite a bit further East on Gloucester Road closer to where the original Luk Wok hotel was.  Yes, the Tamar dockyard was just beyond the police flats and you are correct that the building in the distance on the left was one of the banks - both in 1958 being the tallest buildings in Hong Kong.  From memory,  I think that this one was the lower of the two, the Hong Kong and Shanghai bank, although in 1958 it might have been called the Chartered Bank (?)  - but I'm surprised that the Bank of China is not also in shot.

 Best wishes Andrew

This is my first post, so if I do something that is incorrect or not allowed, please tell me.
My mom went on a trip around the world in 1960 with Thomas Cook & Son, and when she was in India, my cousins called from their house in Kowloon Tong, on Devon Road, where they were staying while working with pilots of Pan Am, learning the dangerous landing at Kai Tak Airport.

During her time there, she and her cousins hung out where the movie, The World Of Sizie Wong, was being filmed. She became enthralled with the Suzie (Sue) Wong dress. The last couple of years, I have been going through the THOUSANDS of 35mm slides and photos she took during all her travels all over the world (a LOT from Hong Kong, China,etc) & I found some with her in her Suzie Wong dress. I thought it would go well with this thread!
scanned mom mary K carroll nee roberts in Suzie Wong dress in hong kong island 1961.jpg

@"The pale blue and cream building in my photograph, next to the man on the bicycle, is the old China Fleet Club building. "

I remember it so well. Hong Kong Police officers of Inspectorate rank or above had honorary membership. In 1968 I  used to have lunch there almost daily during the working week in the restaurant for Petty Officers. My favourite :  'Cheese & Tomato Omelette' for HK$1.30.  A monthly haircut in the barbers shop would set me back $1. plus a "generous" 20 cents tip.

I never dared ( I wouldn't want to in any case)  to enter the junior ranks bar which one had to walk past to get into the restaurant . Occasionally when the doors swung open ( often to witness a sailor being thrown out) you could see crowds of rowdy U.S. sailors sometimes in a fight or vomiting over the floor. I rarely saw a British sailor dare to enter the bar because it was full of Americans. Wan Chai was awash with them on R & R during the Vietnam War. There were six to seven-foot sailors in their whites with diminutive 'Suzie Wongs' in cheongsams on almost every corner in Wan Chai's streets discussing rates and which nearby short-time hotel to go to.  

While stationed at R,A,F. Lite Sai Wan, we had an excellent view of shipping entering Hong Kong harbour from the East.  Whenever we saw ships of the American navy approaching, we knew that the saIlors on R and R with their huge spending power meant that prices of everything ‘down town’ immediately tended to rise. So, plans to buy anything would usually be put on hold until the fleet had moved out.  On one occasion, when I really needed to buy something, I resorted to telling the shop keeper, “I’m British not American”, and the bartering position returned to a more sensible level.  As the American Sailors always came ashore in their impeccable uniforms I have sometimes wondered how the shop keepers confused them with us - who always wore civilian clothes. I never visited the China Fleet Club when the U.S. Fleet was in! Andrew

Wanchai was a very different place then as you say.

I recall my Mum taking me to buy shoes there. I had quite big feet and was struggling to find my size in the shops.

There were lots of shop selling hand made shoes and particularly cowboy boots, which were obviously very popular with the Fleet. 

We had been to several shops in one street when we entered one more. As we walked in the phone rang and the shop owner who had just started to serve us, picked it up.

He said in Cantonese "No, it's just some kid and his mother looking to buy shoes - it's safe to come round now"!! My parents and my brother and I all spoke pretty good Cantonese. 

We both understood what had been said and my Mum gave me a look that said quite clearly that perhaps we should leave immediately! Which we did! 

I never found out what that was all about!

Thanks for sharing those memories! Love the photos in this thread.

I have quite a few photos that I would love to post, some from 35mm slides converted to photos, and most from the 1950- to the late 1990s to early 2000s. Not sure where to post them,

I think this one was marked as "Cat Street" (Upper Lascar Row) but would love some confimation.