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The Ugly American (1963)

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An ambitious scholar becomes the ambassador of Sarkan, a southeast Asian country where civil war is brewing.

Director:

George Englund

Writers:

William J. Lederer (novel), Eugene Burdick (novel) | 2 more credits »
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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:
Marlon Brando ... Ambassador Harrison Carter MacWhite
Eiji Okada ... Deong
Sandra Church ... Marion MacWhite
Pat Hingle ... Homer Atkins
Arthur Hill ... Grainger
Jocelyn Brando ... Emma Atkins
Kukrit Pramoj Kukrit Pramoj ... Prime Minister Kwen Sai
Judson Pratt ... Joe Bing
Reiko Sato ... Rachani, Deong's Wife
George Shibata George Shibata ... Munsang
Judson Laire Judson Laire ... Senator Brenner
Philip Ober ... Ambassador Sears
Yee Tak Yip Yee Tak Yip ... Sawad, Deong's Assistant
Carl Benton Reid ... Senator at Confirmation Hearing
Simon Scott Simon Scott ... Johnson
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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:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 August 1963 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Der häßliche Amerikaner See more »

Filming Locations:

Bangkok, Thailand See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In coincidence the event in the film did really happened on the real life, on which U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Marshall Green experienced the same thing as what Marlon Brando's character Ambassador Harrison Carter MacWhite experienced in the film. Marshall Green who was appointed Ambassador to Indonesia by President Lyndon B. Johnson in June 4, 1965 two years after the movie released, sparking a controversy within Indonesian People who was not welcome his appointment and at some point Indonesian President at that time Soekarno also reluctant to accept Green as U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia. Similar to the event in the film when protester overcome the airport as Ambassador MacWhite arrived, when Marshall Green arrived at Jakarta Kemayoran Airport protester also overcome the airport to protest Green arrival. According to his memoir Green also received unpleasant treat during his first month as ambassador to Indonesia by anti-western movement similar to what happened with MacWhite character in the movie. It would not long until a few months later when the anti-western movement in Indonesia were overthrown, then Green got the more better treatment as U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Newhart: The Last Newhart (1990) 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

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User Reviews

 
As Riveting As Ever.
26 August 2013 | by GordJacksonSee all my reviews

I remember first seeing "The Ugly American" upon its initial release in 1963, and I equally remember immediately linking it with what was happening in Viet Nam. I found it absorbing and timely then just as I do today.

As the American ambassador with a total white hat/black hat mentality, Marlon Brando in my opinion gives one of his best performances. There's the shouting and the strutting, but there are also some very, eerily quiet, contrasting moments when he simply lets the frustration of his character all hang out.

As his former best friend and now rebel leader of the fictional Sarkan to which Brando's Ambassador White has been posted, Ejii Okada is every bit Brando's equal. Their sharp exchanges are riveting, as is so much of the dialogue in this film, dialogue-heavy moments that I do not personally find boring because what they are discussing strikes me as being as important today as in 1963 when this film was first released.

I do recognize that some reviewers were terribly disappointed (maybe even offended) that the film was not a recapitulation of an apparently well written, highly complex novel which I haven't read yet but intend to if I can find a copy. However, no matter how great the book, shouldn't a film be judged as a film because it is not a book? For one thing, movies don't have the luxury of an endless running time, a constraint not put upon the number of pages needed to tell a print story. Also, is not the punctuation, grammar and syntax of image quite different than that of print?

Finally, as others have said, it is too bad (a) "The Ugly American" has been mostly forgotten (if it has ever been heard of) and (b) the powerful message that ends this picture is still as relevant today as it was in 1963. Indeed, if anything it is even more (very sadly) spot-on than it was then.


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