The World of Suzie Wong (1960)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama, Period Film, Romantic Drama  |   Run Time - 129 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

A big deal when first released, The World of Suzie Wong is a bit of bore when viewed today -- and a bore that many will find offensive, both for the "pidgin" dialogue handed the title character (and other characters of Asian extraction) and for the sugarcoated view of a prostitute's life. Although glamorizing "the life" has long been (and frequently continues to be) a Hollywood staple, rarely has it taken such a bizarre turn as the Wong sequence in which Suzie proudly displays signs of a beating to her fellow hookers and uses it as evidence that her man loves her. This is but one of several unbelievable moments (such as Lomax tearing off Suzie's dress because it makes her look like a European whore) that severely damage the movie's credibility. The film as a whole feels tired and is much too long; director Richard Quine displays no flair for pacing, and there's little imagination in his work here. Fortunately, Wong does have a nicely restrained and beautifully modulated performance from William Holden, in addition to a simple and effective one from Nancy Kwan. Kwan also looks splendid throughout, and her sexy dancing is a treat. On-location shooting and evocative lensing from Geoffrey Unsworth are also major assets, but even these can't keep Wong from wearing out its welcome before the final reel.