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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>
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 »
[Leaving, to Fowler]
If you will forgive my attempt at colloquial English, Mr. Fowler; they have made a bloody fool of you!
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Graham Greene did not have a comfortable vision of the world--or at least of the activities of human beings in the world. While very few movies do justice to books on which they are based, the Quiet American is a chilling forewarning of what the United States would be letting itself in for in the years to come. Murphy, always an appealing figure on the screen but not noted for truly great acting depth and breadth, is ideal for this understated role. A very well done thriller which addresses racism, colonialism, various "economic"isms, all the while focusing on the individual human impacts of high level decision-making. Are we just pawns, forced into just following orders, or do we have the responsibility to take action on the side of what we know to be right, in spite of the personal cost?
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