Twenty-one year old Polly Barlow (Hayley Mills) of London, England has led a sheltered and dull life, she helping her mother run a bakery. That life will only be strengthened if, as expected, her casual boyfriend George, a bank clerk, eventually asks her to marry him. Polly is also a bit of a wallflower, hiding behind plain frocks and horn rimmed glasses. If only to escape that life for a short time, Polly jumps at the chance to accompany her wealthy Aunt Eva Innes-Hook (Brenda de Banzie) on an around the world cruise despite she having known her aunt for only one month, believing her to be overbearing, demanding, gluttonous, judgmental and self-absorbed, and knowing that her aunt only wants her to act as the servant regardless of Mrs. Innes-Hook's assertion that the trip is for Polly's benefit. What is to be their two day stop in Singapore, the land portion which will be arranged by Polly's maternal Uncle Robert Thorne-Hook (Trevor Howard), a rubber plantation owner in Johor, ends up not quite being as planned when, out of circumstances, Polly gets out from under her aunt's thumb with much of her money to do as she pleases. In these circumstances, Polly shows that she has long been a wannabe sophisticate. As Uncle Bob has no desire to spend time with his British relations, he avoiding them altogether if possible, Polly spends much of her time in Singapore with Amaz Hudeen (Shashi Kapoor), who Uncle Bob has arranged to be their guide. Amaz is arguably the premiere fixer in Singapore with connections to everyone and everything. He can see beyond the surface of Polly to the blossom of a woman underneath, which he helps to expose. As Amaz and Polly begin to fall for each other, others may also see in Polly what Amaz does. But as Polly learns more about her Uncle Bob being a player, some of that information directly from his own mouth, she may also learn some truths about Amaz that he may not want her to see. As such, questions that arise are if there is any future for Polly and Amaz, if Polly is in over her head in her Singapore experiences, and how these experiences will affect her life if/when she returns to Britain.
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