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The Quiet American (1958)

6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 951 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 13 critic

A young naive American and a cynical older British diplomat disagree over politics in 1952 Vietnam and over a beautiful young native girl.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Claude Dauphin ...
...
...
Fred Sadoff ...
Dominguez
Kerima ...
Richard Loo ...
Peter Trent ...
Eliot Wilkins
Georges Bréhat ...
French Colonel (as Georges Brehat)
Clinton Anderson ...
Joe Morton
Yôko Tani ...
Rendezvous Hostess
Nguyen Long ...
Boy with Mask
C. Long Cuong ...
Boy in Watchtower
Tu An ...
Boy in Watchtower
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Storyline

In this adaptation of Graham Greene's prophetic novel about U.S. foreign policy failure in pre-war Indochina, Audie Murphy plays an innocent Young American opposite the older, cynical Brit Michael Redgrave. They play out their widely different views on the prospects struggle for the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people in their competition over a young woman. Murphy wants to reform her and make her a typical middle class American housewife; Redgrave accepts her inability to formulate or retain a political ideal and while promising her no real future, he objects to Murphy's attempts to change her. It's not clear whether Murphy is just what he appears - a bungling Yankee do-gooder - or a deliberate agent of U.S. covert operations. Written by Rita Richardson <RRichar790@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance | Thriller | War

Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

8 February 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Vier Pfeifen Opium  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM Print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In Europe, director-writer Joseph L. Mankiewicz was savagely attacked for his film's infidelity to the source novel by Graham Greene, not least by Greene himself. The screenplay essentially turns the novel inside-out, so that the blundering "quiet American", whose extreme naiveté causes tragedy and his own death despite his having only the best of intentions, is transformed into a shrewd and heroic figure, far wiser and more honorable than his British rival. Mankiewicz later referred to the film as "very bad" (although he also liked to point out that Jean-Luc Godard had called it the best film of its year) and claimed that he had not been able to concentrate on the film because of the mental collapse of his wife, Rose Stradner, who committed suicide soon after he had finished it. See more »

Quotes

Thomas Fowler: [Noticing to the Vietnamese women who are reacting to him] What's all the chattering and giggling about?
Phuong: They think I have come back to you.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Simpsons: Smart & Smarter (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

La Cathédrale engloutie
(uncredited)
Composed by Claude Debussy
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User Reviews

 
Hindsight and foresight
14 July 2012 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The next thing to do after seeing The Quiet American is to see the version done 44 years later. The novel by Graham Greene is set in French Indo-China in 1952 and this version is prophetic. The other one surely has the advantage of a whole lot of hindsight. This film done in 1958 has a lot of foresight.

I don't know what to make of Audie Murphy's character, it's never brought out, but he seems to be a CIA man. In the novel he's from the Ivy League, but due to Murphy's speech pattern, his character is from Texas. He's bringing in plastic for industrial purposes purportedly, but we see how the 'plastic' is really used.

The political picture of Indo-China in 1952 has the United States already seeing the French won't hold on and they're getting ready to put in their own surrogate in when the French do fall. Murphy is forever talking about a 'third force' who will bring western style democracy.

Murphy also becomes romantically involved with Giorgia Moll who is also the mistress of British newspaper correspondent Michael Redgrave. The rivalry between the two prevents either from acting coherently though Redgrave has a much better idea of what's really happening.

Interestingly enough the United Kingdom was also fighting to hold on in Malaya the same way that the French were trying to hold on to Indo-China next door. The British were far more successful though.

The Quiet American should have been seen by policy makers in Washington through six administrations in America. A lot of valuable lessons could have been learned and a lot of valuable lives might never have been lost.


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