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The Ugly American (1963)

6.8
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Reviews: 22 user | 9 critic

An intelligent, articulate scholar, Harrison MacWhite, survives a hostile Senate confirmation hearing at the hands of conservatives to become ambassador to Sarkan, a southeast Asian country... See full summary »

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Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Deong
Sandra Church ...
Marion MacWhite
...
Homer Atkins
Arthur Hill ...
Grainger
...
Emma Atkins
Kukrit Pramoj ...
Prime Minister Kwen Sai
Judson Pratt ...
Joe Bing
Reiko Sato ...
Rachani, Deong's Wife
George Shibata ...
Munsang
Judson Laire ...
Senator Brenner
...
Ambassador Sears
Yee Tak Yip ...
Sawad, Deong's Assistant
Carl Benton Reid ...
Senator at Confirmation Hearing
Simon Scott
Edit

Storyline

An intelligent, articulate scholar, Harrison MacWhite, survives a hostile Senate confirmation hearing at the hands of conservatives to become ambassador to Sarkan, a southeast Asian country where civil war threatens a tense peace. Despite his knowledge, once he's there, MacWhite sees only a dichotomy between the U.S. and Communism. He can't accept that anti-American sentiment might be a longing for self-determination and nationalism. So, he breaks from his friend Deong, a local opposition leader, ignores a foreman's advice about slowing the building of a road, and tries to muscle ahead. What price must the country and his friends pay for him to get some sense? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The most explosive adventure of our time! See more »


Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 April 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der häßliche Amerikaner  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Emma Atkins is played by Marlon Brando's sister, Jocelyn Brando. See more »

Goofs

The steering wheel of the taxi cab is on the wrong side. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Garfield 2 (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

America the Beautiful
(uncredited)
Music by Samuel A. Ward and lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates
Heard when the Ambassador arrives and over the closing credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Winning Hearts and Minds
7 May 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

It's 1963 and the United States is getting drawn into the internal affairs of a Southeast Asian country named Sarkan. It's got a Communist north and a western leaning south. It has a king ruling with a prime minister with the habit of employing a lot of his relatives in positions of authority.

What makes it a bit different from Vietnam where we were getting drawn in bit by bit is that Sarkan also has a charismatic leader who retired DeGaulle like after Sarkan won its independence from Japanese occupation. He's the key to solving the country's problems for better or worse.

Because of a past relationship with Eiji Okada who plays the Sarkanese DeGaulle, Marlon Brando has been appointed ambassador to Sarkan. Back during World War II Brando and Okada worked well together doing damage to the Japanese occupiers.

Problem now is that the Sarkanese see the Americans as occupiers and the Communists are exploiting the situation to the fullest. A road called Freedom Road that the USA is constructing has become a flash-point of resentment.

It all ends as badly here as it did for America in Vietnam though I certainly won't go into details. Brando delineates a very good interpretation of a Cold Warrior diplomat. We and the Russians fought for global primacy with competing ideologies for over 40 years. Neither superpower was particularly cognizant of the wishes of the countries that blood was spilled over.

Eiji Okada was a major star in Japanese cinema and this was his only English language film. He's an impassioned Sarkanese patriot who's exploited by some evil forces and only realizes it too late.

Smartest guy in the room and in the film is Pat Hingle who is the boss constructing the road. His wife played by Jocelyn Brando runs a hospital for the natives and is beloved. He offers the only real solution to winning the hearts and minds of the Sarkanese. Build a hospital somewhere where you want your bloody road to run and the Sarkanese will fall all over themselves building a road themselves to it. Too bad no one listens.

Brando and Okada make a fine pair of former friends and now dueling adversaries. Hopefully one day we might get an administration who is more concerned with winning hearts and minds all over the world. We might even realize some cheap oil in the bargain.

The Ugly American is still a fine film with some lessons for today's diplomats and military men.


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