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The Ugly American (1963)

6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 1,178 users  
Reviews: 22 user | 16 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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(novel), (novel), 2 more credits »
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Title: The Ugly American (1963)

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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 Important 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

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 is 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 »

Connections

Featured in Brando (2007) 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

Viet Nam 1963
18 April 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I was in Viet Nam from June 1963 to March 1964. We saw "The Ugly American" at the American movie theatre in Saigon, the Capitol Kinh Do.

There were many Americans and their dependents in Saigon and in Viet Nam at this time--most were isolated with cocktail parties, teas, and American activities. Most American children went to the American Community School outside of Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Their parents belonged to the exclusive Cercle Sportiff, hobnobbing with the Vietnamese elite who monetarily benefited from the war. There were opportunities for American civilians to teach the Vietnamese English, but I never knew of any opportunities for Americans to learn Vietnamese or national customs.

Many of the children of the diplomatic corps were instructed that if their shirt tails hung out or if they ate with their fingers when eating implements were available, they would be considered "ugly Americans." Nothing was said about the teenage boys drinking, whoring, and racing their motorcycles through the darkened Saigon streets in the early morning hours. Nothing was said about how we knew the way to "win" the war against the popular nationalist freedom fighter known as Ho Chi Minh who organized the successful campaigns against the Japanese and French occupiers.

Perhaps if we had listened a little more, learned the language and customs, and understood that the desire for national freedom is not communism, we wouldn't still be trying to "win" the Vietnam War.


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