The hero Robert Lomax (William Holden) is a poor starving middle-aged artist who gave up his steady architect job in America to move to Hong Kong to pursue his ambition to become a painter.
Suzie Wong (Nancy Kwan) is a beautiful Chinese harlot with a heart of gold who wants to give up men for her man.
Their relationship is anything but smooth, however. Robert must contend with Suzie’s other customers, her incomprehensible logic, and her childlike nature (“for goodness sake”), while she cannot fathom his ambiguity, conscience, or commendations.
Banker’s daughter Kay O’Neill (Sylvia Sims) is carrying a torch for Lomax and trying to help him in art circles.
Ben Marlowe (Michael Wilding) is a two-timing married British cad who enjoys Suzie’s favours as a prostitute and wants to make the arrangement semi-permanent.
Nancy Kwan deservedly won a Golden Globe for Best Newcomer. Lionel Blair appears briefly as a dancing sailor.