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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>
The Quiet American is not one of the greatest Greene books, coming after the successes of the Thirties and Forties, but it is a very entertaining read. Joe Mankiewicz made a great adaptation to the screen with superb actors. I will take Michael Redgrave, Giorgia Moll and Claude Dauphin over Michael Caine, Do Thi Hai Yen and Rade Serbedzija in the 2002 version any day, and as for Audie Murphy--sure he's no Hamlet, but his dogged determination and easy Southern charm impress me more than Brendan Fraser in the role of Pyle, that dangerously quiet American.
I was pleased by the way the story unfolded, the political themes were well worked out, and the Cao Dai scenes were very good. Don't forget that in 1956 the city scapes of Saigon and the countryside still had not been modernized; you are seeing the real thing. The pairing of Redgrave and Dauphin is as entertaining as that of Bogart and Rains in Casablanca: is there any higher praise?
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