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    Scenic Seduction

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    When depicting bittersweet romance on screen, it never hurts to have beautifully scenic and gorgeously lensed locations as a backdrop. One can point to Yves Bélanger’s lovely cinematography of the breathtaking County Wessex (Ireland), Coney Island and Montreal locales (standing in for the title borough) served up for filmmaker John Crowley’s exquisite Brooklyn (2015), Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s stunning renderings of Thomas Hardy’s wild Dorset, England countryside for director Thomas Vinterberg’s haunting remake of Far from the Madding Crowd (2015) or Vittorio Storaro’s magically illumined recreations of chic 1930s Southern California and New York ambience for Woody Allen’s current Café Society as shimmering examples of how evocative settings can enhance audience involvement in the romantic yearnings of star-crossed soulmates. When the Cinemascope/Deluxe Color adaptation of Han Suyin’s memoir, retitled for the screen Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), unveiled its widescreen vistas of dreamily open, old-world Hong Kong as the stage for the passionate affair of an unhappily married American journalist and a Eurasian doctor 61 years ago today, viewers felt the frissons of pleasure that erupt when convention-flouting movie-star love plays out in exotic surroundings. Academy Award® winners William Holden and Jennifer Jones are the front-and-center stars of the Buddy Adler-produced/Henry King-directed opus, and strong, indeed invaluable support is rendered by the musical contingent, composer Alfred Newman (winner of an Oscar® for Best Score) and songwriters Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster (winner of the Best Song Oscar® for the pop-hit title tune). But clinching the deal are the breathtaking photographic contributions of two Hollywood greats, the credited DP Leon Shamroy (who captured four Oscars® for the Fox films The Black Swan, Wilson, Leave Her to Heaven and Cleopatra) and the uncredited second-unit DP Charles G. Clarke (also a long-time, top-tier Fox craftsman with Miracle on 34th Street, Captain from Castile, Carousel and The Sound and the Fury to his credit). Shamroy’s studio work shot on Fox soundstages (as well as exteriors of the lovers’ hilltop meeting place at a tree actually in rural Southern California) is artfully blended with Clarke’s exteriors shot in Hong Kong, which included Repulse Bay (an expansive, inviting view in 1954 that’s now ringed by towering skyscrapers), the now-demolished Foreign Correspondents’ Club (which served as the façade of the hospital where Jones’s character worked on staff) and the Tai Pak Floating Restaurant, now part of an ongoing water-borne attraction known as the Jumbo Kingdom. In Fox’s painstaking 1080p 2.55:1 high-definition transfer, the charismatic charm of the stars, the melodic lilt of the soundtrack and the lustrous sparkle of its Far East milieu are alchemically blended into a seductive romantic experience for viewers of Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing on Twilight Time Blu-ray in the mood to swoon.