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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 »



(novel), (novel) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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


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


HIS MOST POWERFUL ROLE! [ Marlon Brando ] See more »


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Release Date:

2 April 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der häßliche Amerikaner  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Two months after the film's release, a syndicated story appeared, entitled "Why Can't the Movie Be More Like the Book," written by one of the source novel's two co-authors, Eugene Burdick. Notwithstanding the article's title and the general critical consensus regarding the film's lack of fidelity to his book, Burdick's own assessment was surprisingly positive. While acknowledging that the film bears "only the most passing resemblance" to his novel, he views this as a plus, seeing 'the picture [a]s better than the book; more integrated, more skillful, and more dramatic," noting that director George Englund and screenwriter Stewart Stern had "crept inside the characters" that he himself "knew only as deeply as ink prints on paper." Moreover, Burdick commends Englund and Stern for "work[ing] much harder than had Lederer and [he]" to flesh out the fictional nation of Sarkhan, while marveling at actor Marlon Brando's ability to inconspicuously "slide into one's mind," then seamlessly integrate the information obtained thereby. Finally, despite noting the myriad changes made to his tale in its journey from printed page to projected image, Burdick can mount only the faintest show of reluctance before conceding that his novel's "political impact is still there." See more »


As it is landing, the TWA plane is a Convair 880. When it arrives at the gate for deplaning, it has turned into a Boeing 707. See more »


Referenced in Another Gay Movie (2006) See more »


America the Beautiful
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

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User Reviews

An intelligently crafted and written movie...but not too exciting on a cinematic level
31 March 2010 | by (las vegas, nv) – See all my reviews

Marlon Brando gives a fair performance as the new American Ambassador elected to Sarkhan in Southeast Asia, which had been a peaceful, friendly nation fifteen years prior but is now being taken over by radical Communists distrustful of outside development. Adapted from the novel by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick, the dramatic, talkative picture (filmed mostly in Thailand) is a thoughtful rabble-rouser about conflicting political views. Brando's one native confidante in Sarkhan (wonderfully portrayed by Eiji Okada) admits to working both sides of the proverbial fence, which allows for a stimulating discussion of personal values in which common sense no longer comes into play. Although beautifully photographed by Clifford Stine, the results are literate and intriguing without being intrinsically exciting (at its core, the nature of the film is a tug-of-war, with the participants often engaged in a shouting match). Moving in fits and starts, one must sit through a great deal of pontificating before arriving at the conclusion, however the film's strongest scenes remain forceful and memorable. ** from ****

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