Directed by Richard Quine • 1960 • United Kingdom, United States
Starring William Holden, Nancy Kwan, Sylvia Syms
Introduction: This film has been programmed as part of the series Hollywood Chinese, a survey on the history of Chinese representation in American cinema, curated by filmmaker Arthur Dong. He notes: “Since its 1960 release, The World of Suzie Wong has been both celebrated and condemned: it was a top-ten grosser for the year, but it also became a target of criticism for how Hollywood glamorized the life of sex workers and perpetuated the sexualization of Asian women.” For further context, we recommend watching Mr. Dong’s series introduction and his documentary HOLLYWOOD CHINESE, now playing on the Channel.
Nancy Kwan shot to international stardom with her vibrant debut performance in this romantic drama, spectacularly shot on location in Hong Kong. She is the spirited sex worker Suzie Wong, who finds love with the American Robert Lomax (William Holden), an aspiring painter who has come to Hong Kong in search of inspiration and for whom she poses as a model. Jealousy, cultural tensions, economic misfortune, and the disapproval of those around them threaten their romance as they each fight for survival on the city’s seedy margins.