6.8/10
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22 user 20 critic

The Quiet American (1958)

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:
...
...
...
...
...
Fred Sadoff ...
Dominguez
...
...
Peter Trent ...
Eliot Wilkins
Georges Bréhat ...
French Colonel (as Georges Brehat)
...
Joe Morton
...
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

Taglines:

Where He Walked - All Hell Broke Loose! See more »

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:

El americano tranquilo  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM Print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Source novelist Graham Greene said of his source novel of the same name in 'Ways of Escape', pp.139-140: "When my novel was eventually noticed in the New Yorker the reviewer condemned me for accusing my "best friends" (the Americans) of murder since I had attributed to them the responsibility for the great explosion - far worse than the trivial bicycle bombs - in the main square of Saigon when many people lost their lives. But what are the facts, of which the reviewer needless to say was ignorant? The Life photographer at the moment of the explosion was so well placed that he was able to take an astonishing and horrifying photograph which showed the body of a trishaw driver still upright after his legs had been blown off. This photograph was reproduced in an American propaganda magazine published in Manila over the title 'The work of Ho Chi Minh' although General Thé had promptly and proudly claimed the bomb as his own. Who had supplied the material to a bandit who was fighting French, Caodaists and Communists? . . . Perhaps there is more direct rapportage in the The Quiet American than in any other novel I have written. I had determined to employ again the experience I had gained with The End of the Affair in the use of the first person and the time shift, and my choice of a journalist as the "I" seemed to me to justify the use of rapportage. The Press conference is not the only example of direct reporting. I was in the dive bomber (the pilot had broken an order of General de Lattre by taking me) which attacked the Viet Minh post and I was on the patrol of the Foreign Legion paras outside Phat Diem. I still retain the sharp image of the dead child couched in the ditch beside his dead mother. The very neatness of their bullet wounds made their death more disturbing than the indiscriminate massacre in the canals around." See more »

Quotes

Mr. Heng: [to Fowler] Sooner or later, one has to take sides.
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Connections

Version of The Quiet American (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Mankiewicz's Quiet American is interesting for reasons other than it is from a Graham Greene novel.
21 August 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Audie Murphy is wooden in his portrayal of the American and, in a twist to the novel, is the hero of the piece. Not quite what Greene had in mind but relevant to events in the USA during the McCarthy era when this film was made (1958).

Phuong has not been given the importance she demands in the novel. The way in which she is 'colonised' by first Fowler and then the American (Pyle in the novel, but not named in this film) is a comment on the way in which the foreign landscape is depicted and also on how the country has been colonised. Despite this she is also manipulative.

However, having said some negative things about this production of The Quiet American, it is a MUST view for the portrayal of tensions in the cold war era and the USA's twist to events as they unfold. Remember that Audie Murphy and Joseph L. Mankiewicz testified for HUAC against their fellow actors and colleagues at the height of McCarthyism.

This film is totally relevant to events unfolding today and for all those interested in the effects of colonialism and the rise of the Vietnam War. What is interesting about this film is the different take on events portrayed in Greene's superb novel, unfortunately, some of which were omitted or subverted in the 1958 film.

This film should be followed by the Philip Noyce version of The Quiet American (2001) with Michael Caine as Thomas Fowler and Brendan Fraser as Pyle (the American in the Mankiewicz version). There is a good opportunity to contrast and compare the two versions which are very different, given that the Noyce Quiet American is closer to the novel.

I would also recommend for light relief that viewers watch the Mash Season 2 TV series in which we see Colonel Flag of the CIA raising a few loud laughs.


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