Two scam artists prey on women for their money. They clash in a Mediterranean hot spot. Will the cultured, high-class con artist come out on top, or will the rough small-change scammer rise to win the wager?
Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier, a trouble-prone drifter trying to go straight, wanders into a small Mississippi town looking for a simple and honest life but finds himself embroiled with problem-filled women.
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
This film is loosely based on the novel of the same name by Burdick and Lederer, but departs from the novel in some significant particulars that I won't get into here. I think it is important to view this film as a period piece. Released in 1963 before the assassination of JFK and the escalation of the war in Viet Nam, the story retains a certain degree of naiveté about the role of the United States in the world and the perceptions of the United States that existed in other countries. This film would have looked quite different had it been shot in 1968 or 1969, by which time the country had long since shed any illusions about the nation's role in the world. In some ways, this provides a kind of still photo of the United States just prior to the Kennedy assassination and the tumultuous sequence of events that unfolded afterward. For that reason, this is a fascinating period piece that survives Brando's chewing on the scenery and a screen play that departs in unfortunate ways from the outstanding novel.
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