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The Ugly American (1963)

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3:01 | Trailer
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 »
Reviews
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 ... 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 ... 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Wayne was going to have a cameo in exchange for Marlon Brando making a cameo in The Alamo (1960). Neither took place. 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 »

Quotes

Ambassador Harrison Carter MacWhite: I'd like to interrupt, eh, gentlemen, to point out that the only thing that is clear so far is that there's no clarity at all. So if you don't mind, we'll stop this squabbling and I'll present you with some facts. About three hours ago, there were several people trampled to death, a policeman was pistol-whipped until his face looked like raspberry jam, and the man who represents the person of the president of United States was almost killed, along with his wife, and other members of his party. ...
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Connections

Referenced in Save the Last Dance 2 (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Annie Laurie
(uncredited)
Music by Lady John Scott; poem by William Douglas (1672-1748)
Excerpt performed unaccompanied by Marlon Brando
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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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Frequently Asked Questions

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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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