Inn of the Six Happiness, The (1958): Mark Robson’s Oscar-Nominated Missionary Epic, Starring Ingrid Bergman, Curt Jurgens, and Robert Donat (in his Last Role)

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
Inn Of Sixth Happiness 02(1958).jpeg

Original film poster
At the height of her popularity, after winning a second Best Actress Oscar for Anastasia, in 1956, Ingrid Berman plays in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness Gladys Aylward, a British woman who wants to go to China to work as a missionary.
To that extent, she lives meagerly, saving every penny she has.  Gladys gets her desire and wins over the local mandarin (played by the very British Robert Donat, of “Goodbye Mr. Chips” fame) and the Nationalist general (played by the very German Curt Jurgens). During WWII, she manages to save orphans from the invading Japanese.
Adapted to the screen by Isobel Lenhart from Alan Burgess’s famous book, “The Small Woman,” “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness” is smoothly directed by Mark Robson, who received a Best Director nomination (probably due to the picture’s popularity). But overall, it’s a movie that lacks credibility and authenticity, not least because it was shot in Wales, standing in for China.
Moreover, as was Hollywood’s norm at the time, most of the Asian roles are cast with Caucasian actors, a practice that would be unacceptable today.
Robson, on the heels of his huge success with the melodrama “Peyton Place,” received a second, consecutive Best Director nomination. A Christmas release, Fox’s picture was one of the year’s top ten box-office hits, earning over $10 million.
Oscar Nominations: 1
Director: Mark Robson
Oscar Awards: None
Oscar Context:
The winner of the Best Director Oscar was Vincente Minnelli for the musical Gigi, which swept all the awards in a race that also included Richard Brooks for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” Stanley Kramer for “The Defiant Ones,” and Robert Wise for “I Want to Live!”
Ingrid Bergman as Gladys Aylward
Curt Jürgens as Captain Lin Nan
Robert Donat as the Mandarin of Yang Cheng
Michael David as Hok-A
Athene Seyler as Jeannie Lawson
Ronald Squire as Sir Francis Jamison
Moultrie Kelsall as Dr. Robinson
Richard Wattis as Mr. Murfin
Peter Chong as Yang
Tsai Chin as Sui-Lan
Edith Sharpe as Secretary at China Inland Mission
Joan Young as Sir Francis’ cook
Lian-Shin Yang as Woman with Baby
Noel Hood as Miss Thompson (credited as Noël Hood)
Burt Kwouk as Li


Directed by Mark Robson
Written by Alan Burgess
Screenplay by Isobel Lennart, based on The Small Woman 1957 biography by Alan Burgess
Produced by Buddy Adler
Cinematography Freddie Young
Edited by Ernest Walter
Music by Malcolm Arnold

Production and distribution company: 20th Century Fox

Release date: November 23, 1958 (Premiere, London); December 11, 1958 (US)

Running time: 158 minutes
Budget $3,570,000
Box office $4.4 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)