In 1960 Nancy Kwan earned a Golden Globe nomination for her title performance in THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG.
Once a month my Irish grandmother took my older brother and me to the Loew's Orpheum in Boston. I was 8. My grandmother was an indeterminate age. She claimed to have been born in the Year of the Crow. Her gravestone later marked her birth year as 1898 although it doesn't seem likely that a 62 year-old fervent Catholic would have taken a child to a movie about a Chinese whore.
"Don't tell your mother." Nana swore us to secrecy about this cinematic experience. She was a good Catholic woman from the West of Ireland. I doubted that she ever confessed all her sins to the priests, because not all their sins were sins for her. My mother would have died to learn of our exposure to such a forbidden subject, however Nana liked good-looking leading men and William Holden filled that bill playing Robert Lomax, an American artist questioning his muse, until he moves to Hong Kong and falls in love with a beautiful prostitute living at his hotel.
I used to have dreams about living at Wan Chai Hotel and Suzie Wong.
East meets West.
The Malaysia Hotel in Bangkok came close to the Wan Chan, although none of the go-go girls from Patpong held a candle to Nancy Kwan, except when the lights were out and then I remade the scenes never shown in the original film.
Cut to the love scene and fade to black.
Films such as THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG fly straight in the face of American morality. Loving a whore was never a fit subject for a nation consumed by religious righteousness. Any strays from the straight and narrow have been castigated as proteges of Satan. Whenever I mentioned in the West, that I live in Thailand, women's eyes sparked fire with condemnation. I ignored their antipathy, because life in Thailand can be a mirror of THE WORLD OF SUZY WONG or a bad porno movie.
Being a pseudo-intellectual I opted for the first.Because I still have dreams of Suzie Wong.Only now they are about my loving Mam.She is all the Suzie Wong I need in this life and the next.