Pretty Polly’s Ambulatory Gaze in a Former Colonial Town of Her Forebears’ Empire.


Film Title: Pretty Polly
Alternative Film Title: A Matter of Innocence
Year of Release: 1967
Directed by Guy Green.
Original story by Noel Coward.
Produced by George-Granat Productions & Universal Pictures.
Country of Production: United Kingdom

Miss Polly Barton decides to leave England and spend a few months with her wealthy spinster aunt as a traveling companion. While in Singapore, the demise of her aunt leaves her alone to pursue her freedom and explore an arms-length romance with a local Indian Singaporean tour guide. (Source: Wikipedia.)

Read Ben Slater’s superb blog post on Noel Coward’s story “Pretty Polly Barlow” and its film adaptation “Pretty Polly”.

And here’s my take — sort of a re-interpretation — based on the first twelve minutes of the film…


00-1-Intertitle-Night 00-2-Intertitle-She-dreams 01-1a-HawParVilla-1 01-1b-Intertitle-Unfamiliar-faces 01-2a-HawParVilla-2 01-2b-Intertitle-Exotic-Deities 01-3a-NewBridgeRoad,MajesticTheatre,dawn?dusk? 01-3b-Intertitle-Neon-lit 01-3c-NewBridgeRoad-1960s 01-3d-NewBridgeRoad,MajesticTheatre,dawn?dusk? 01-4a-Intertitle-she-wakes-up 01-4b-Title-Pretty-Polly-A-Matter-Of-Innocence 01-4c-Intertitle-she-arrives 01-5a-Pretty-Polly-arrival-at-Singapore-Port 01-5aa-Intertitle-colonial-town 01-5b-Pretty-Polly-arrival-at-Singapore-Port--KeppelHarbour-MtFaber 01-5c-East-Wharf-Keppel-Harbour-1 01-5d-East-Wharf-Keppel-Harbour-2 01-5e-East-Wharf-Keppel-Harbour-2a 01-5f-East-Wharf-Keppel-Harbour-3 01-5ff-Intertitle-they-arrive 01-5g-Sepak-Takraw-East-Wharf-Keppel-Harbour 01-5h-East-Wharf-Block-46-Keppel-Harbour 01-5i-Aerial-view-of-East Wharf-Keppel-Harbour-1960s 01-5j-Map-of-Keppel-Harbour

01-6a-Intertitle-Singapore-city-1967 01-6b-View-of-Singapore-city-from-Cathay-Building-2 01-6c-Intertitle-Independence 01-6d-Singapore-River-BoatQuay 01-7a-School-Children-on-trishaws 01-7b-Smiling-Pushcart-Hawker 01-7c-The-Plebeian 01-8a-Hawker-stall-by-the-pier-1 01-8b-Hawker-stall-by-the-pier-2 01-9-Hawker-stalls-by-the-pier-Singapore-Waterfront-Clifford-Pier 01-10-Collyer-Quay-Clifford-Pier-carpark-YWCA

01-11-PrettyPolly_and_Amaz_ambulatory_gaze 01-12-Intertitle-The-Ambulatory-Gaze 01-13-Jackson's Plan - Town Map of Singapore 1828, from 'Lily Kong - Conserving the Past Creating the Future - Urban Heritage in Singapore'(2011)01-14-Intertitle-Raffles'-decree01-15-Intertitle-Divide-and-rule

01-16-Intertitle-Old-Commercial_Square 01-17-Junction-of-Prince-Street-and-De-Souza-Street-Asia-Insurance-Building-in-the-background 01-18-Building-at-the-junction-of-Prince-Street-and-De-Souza-Street 01-19a-Intertitle-Modern-skyscraper-british-trained-local-architect 01-19b-Travelling-along-De-Souza-Street-towards-Asia-Insurance-Building 01-20a-Aerial-photo-1950-De-Souza-St 01-20b-AsiaInsuranceBuilding,underconstruction,1955,LongLiveTheQueen

01-21a-Intertitle-Dwindling-Empire 01-21b-View-of-Singapore-city-from-Cathay-Building-1 01-21c-Intertitle-Old-European-Town

01-22a-Intertitle-She-Crosses-Singapore-River 01-22b-Singapore-River-BoatQuay-view-from-Elgin-Bridge

01-23a-Intertitle-She-is-shown-exhibits 01-23b-Sri-Mariamman-Temple-South-Bridge-Road 01-23c-Intertitle-Colonial-Plural-Society-Exhibits 01-24-Sakya-Muni-Buddha-Gaya-Temple-Race-Course-Road 01-25-TelokAyerStreet-NagoreDurghaShrine

01-26a-Intertitle-Street-Barbers 01-26b-Five-Foot-Way-Street-Barbers 01-27a-Intertitle-Street-hawkers 01-27b-Street-market 01-28a-Intertitle-Smith-street 01-28b-Smith-Street-Pearls-Hill-SIT-flats

01-29a-Intertitle-high-rise-apartments 01-29b-HDB-Ten-Storey-Flats-ChapLau 01-29c-Intertitle-house-the-masses 01-29d-Intertitle-the-naming-of-queenstown

01-30a-Intertitle-headed-towards-sultan-palace-mosque 01-30b-Bridge-over-Rochor-Canal-Arab-Street-Weld-Road 01-30c-Arab Street, 1968-70-by-John C Young-from-PICAS 01-31a-Weld-Road 01-31b-Weld-Road-德昌 01-31c-WeldRoad,SungeiRoad,RochorCanal,德昌1982,by-RonniPinsler,fromPICAS 01-32-Aerial-Photo-1950-Rochor-Canal-Bridge 01-33a-Intertitle-Interruption 01-33b-Traffic-Police-Bridge-Over-Rochor-Canal 01-33c-Weld-Road-Arab-Street-Rochor-Canal 01-33d-Travelling-along-Arab-street-Sultan-Mosque-in-the-background


Pretty Polly’s Ambulatory Gaze in Singapore, 1967…. and Forty Six Years After.”




This is Part 1 – Pretty Polly’s Ambulatory Gaze in a Former Colonial Town of Her Forebears’ Empire.
Part 2 – Pretty Polly’s Ambulatory Gaze in Singapore, 1967…. and Forty Six Years After.
Part 3 – Raffles Hotel: The Noel Coward and Pretty Polly Connection.
Part 4 – To Mount Alvernia Hospital.
Part 5 – An Obsession Over “Woodlands”.
Part 6 – Between Two Funerals – Jalan Sultan.
Part 7 – Between Two Funerals – Bidadari Cemetery.
Part 8 – ‘Round About Midnight, Bugis Street.


2 comments on “Pretty Polly’s Ambulatory Gaze in a Former Colonial Town of Her Forebears’ Empire.

  1. Teresa Tong says:

    Appreciate your blog! I accidentally bumped into this blog during a real estate research around Bidadari, but I ended up learning a lot more about Singapore’s old history. Please keep it up!

  2. Clive says:

    The ship based scenes for Pretty Polly were filmed on the P&O liner ss Arcadia, whilst in port at Singapore. Might have been late 1966 or early 1967.
    I was an officer on the ship and remember watching Hayley Mills and Trevor Howard performing their scenes on deck. I was standing quite close to the point where Hayley is holding her binoculars.
    As I recall, Trevor Howard was enjoying a little extra bit of “refreshment” between takes.
    Great to see the pictures of Singapore as then, comparing to the very modern city it has become.
    One of the aerial photos shows the Arcadia in dock.
    The only disappointment on the day was that they used extras as officers in the ship and dockside scenes.
    They could have used us, the real officers on the ship!
    Very interesting website which gives you insight into the background of films.
    Thank you!

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