The Quiet American 1958 (1958) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: A young naive American and a cynical older British diplomat disagree over politics in 1952 Vietnam and over a beautiful young native girl. Runtime: 120 mins Release Date: 08 Feb 1958
Graham Greene did not have a comfortable vision of the world--or at least of the activities of human beings in the world. While very few movies do justice to books on which they are based, the Quiet American is a chilling forewarning of what the United States would be letting itself in for in the years to come. Murphy, always an appealing figure on the screen but not noted for truly great acting depth and breadth, is ideal for this understated role. A very well done thriller which addresses racism, colonialism, various "economic"isms, all the while focusing on the individual human <more>
impacts of high level decision-making. Are we just pawns, forced into just following orders, or do we have the responsibility to take action on the side of what we know to be right, in spite of the personal cost?
Sir Michael Redgrave gave a brilliant performance as the British journalist who befriends a naive American businessman. When his friend is murdered, he recalls the circumstances around his arrival and their relationship. The events take place in Saigon, Vietnam in post World War II and before the catastrophic Vietnam war. The naive American businessman isn't so naive at times. He wants to help the Vietnamese but he doesn't know the game there. The British journalist is married to a woman in England but lives with a beautiful Vietnamese woman, Phuong. I had to read this book for my <more>
20th Century American History Class. The American played by Audie Murphy did a fantastic job against Redgrave. The love triangle for Phuong is believable yet under-stated and tame. There is plenty of intrigue and suspicion. Life before the Vietnam war is uncertain and there are clues to the upcoming conflict. This film was done before the Vietnam War and is telling about international relations especially American's fear of communism ruling the world. Graham Greene's novel is perfectly adapted to the screen here.
French colonial Vietnam, and a desperate cynical British reporter whose life, and love, are crumbling (by secondtake)
The Quiet American 1958 I think this is an extraordinary film. At the time, Americans didn't like it because it made them look bad, and the writer of the book it is based on, Graham Greene, didn't like it because it changed too much of his anti-American plot. But as a film, whatever its blurring of truth to history, is true about human nature. The credit for this goes not only to Greene, the enormously gifted writer and co-screenwriter, but also to the director, one of the lesser known American masters at telling a romantic story, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also helped with the <more>
screenplay. The two are a perfect match, really, because both are all about subtlety and observation. Greene in particular has a way of bringing up the biggest issues in the most intimate and delicate ways, never grandiose, always psychologically sharp. And that is carried forward here in Vietnam a decade before the American War of the 1960s. The Communists are already fighting in the north, the French are getting ready to abandon the country to the Americans, and a British reporter is the center of our attention, not quite on anyone's side.There are two key characters, the reporter played with astonishing depth and acumen by Michael Redgrave, and "the American", played toward a caricature by Audie Murphy, with enough twists to his character to avoid over-stereotyping.Greene's observations of American do-good naiveté are fascinating, and the way this gets mixed poisoned with American meddling and military subversion is way ahead of its time. Or is it? It might be simply observant of the facts in 1950s Vietnam. Greene was a reporter himself there then, and after this book was published he was followed by American Intelligence until his death in 1991. One of the brilliant aspects of this movie is how it is not simply a love story, but has a trenchant, disturbing comment to make about world affairs, from the inside.Still, love intrudes, and the crossed loves of the two men for the same young Vietnamese woman is less clichéd than you might expect. The story is moving without being sentimental. And all of this is layered up with the actual Imperialist/Colonialist facts of the time. The conflicting sides of a war that few really understood it seems until twenty years later are here in their full formed germinations. Unlike the Michael Caine version of the same story from 2002 , this one was made before history had unfolded. It's endlessly almost chillingly fascinating, even though Greene's anti-war and somewhat anti-American tone was largely removed. The later movie might be closer to the book, but it feels like a movie made about history, not one that predicts it. There are some scenes here, priceless ones, shot in Vietnam in 1958, the rest is done with terrific light and set design in an Italian film studio. Greene was British and the production Italian, but Mankiewicz was American, and fully steeped in American filmmaking and myth making. It's this last aspect that is key--the movie is made to the highest standards of 1940s American melodramas, even having an echo in terms of light and drama and style of William Wyler's "The Letter" also set in Southeast Asia. The filming is astonishing--the photography is in the hands of Robert Krasker, who shot "The Third Man" and "Brief Encounter" to give you an idea of the moody richness of his style. And as a melodrama it comes down to the crumbling personal world of Fowler. At the end, in the busy night streets of a chaotic Saigon, he says, "I wish there was someone to whom I could say I'm sorry." I found it the final moving, beautiful strain of truth and pathos in a very special movie.
The Quiet American is not one of the greatest Greene books, coming after the successes of the Thirties and Forties, but it is a very entertaining read. Joe Mankiewicz made a great adaptation to the screen with superb actors. I will take Michael Redgrave, Giorgia Moll and Claude Dauphin over Michael Caine, Do Thi Hai Yen and Rade Serbedzija in the 2002 version any day, and as for Audie Murphy--sure he's no Hamlet, but his dogged determination and easy Southern charm impress me more than Brendan Fraser in the role of Pyle, that dangerously quiet American.I was pleased by the way the story <more>
unfolded, the political themes were well worked out, and the Cao Dai scenes were very good. Don't forget that in 1956 the city scapes of Saigon and the countryside still had not been modernized; you are seeing the real thing. The pairing of Redgrave and Dauphin is as entertaining as that of Bogart and Rains in Casablanca: is there any higher praise?
Comparing the 1958 version with the 2002 version (by kijii)
I've now seen the two versions of this movie, based on this Graham Greene's novel. Though the 2002 version with Michael Cain and Brendan Fraser is supposed to be more faithful to Green's novel, I much prefer the story that is presented in this 1958 version. On TCM, Ben Mankiewicz said that, for marketing reasons, the story in this version directed by his uncle had to be toned down to make it less anti-American than the novel. He also said that Audie Murphy was probably chosen for the title role because he was a well-known actor-war hero a Congressional Metal of Honor winner who <more>
played himself in the autobiographical war movie, To Hell and Back. Though this wide-screen, black-and-white movie about two men in far-off place, called Vietnam, then failed at the box office, the locale of its story would come back to haunt us for decades to come.Neither Audie Murphy nor Brendan Fraser stand out as actors that we tend to think of a 'top-notch.' But, ironically, the acting of the movie's title character doesn't need to be particularly great, just adequate. Both versions of this movie are more about THE MYSTERY of quiet American, Alden Pyle and what he is doing in Vietnam in 1952, than they are about the characters themselves. So, Audie Murphy and Brendan Fraser in the 2002 version only had to basically 'show up' in the movie to have the story work well. BUT FIRST, let's consider the plot of the 1958 movie, with cross-references to the actors that played the same characters in the boring 2002 version. As the movie opens, the people of Saigon are in the streets celebrating the Chinese New Year Tet with parades of noise makers, masks, and paper dragons. During the celebration, a Vietnamese man discovers the body of a white man, lying face down in the river. The body is that of Alden Pyle Audie Murphy Brendan Fraser in 2002 version . Police Inspector Vigot Claude Dauphin Rade Serbedzija in 2002 version calls in a British journalist, Thomas Fowler Michael Redgrave Micheal Caine in 2002 version , to identify the body. Fowler is also questioned about HIS whereabouts at the time of the suspected murder. At this point, there is a flashback that takes Fowler's recollections back to when and how he first met Pyle and what their relationship had been like during their acquaintance...Basically, they met since they were both white men working in an Asian country, and they tended to go to the same social clubs and restaurants to relax with other English-speaking people. When Pyle first meets Fowler, Fowler is accompanied by his live-in Vietnamese girlfriend, Phuong Giorgia Moll—Do Thi Hai Yen in the 2002 version . While dancing with Phuong at one of the European clubs, Pyle is taken with her. When Pyle learns from Fowler that he is separated from his wife who still lives in England and refuses to give him a divorce , he honorably tells Fowler that he wants to openly court Phuong. Fowler reluctantly offers to translate English to French Pyle's intentions to Phuong. Pyle tells Phunog that he loves her and wants to marry her and take her back to the US: he wants to offer her a future, away from Vietnam. This is something that Fowler—as a married man--can't do. But, Fowler deeply loves Phuong and wants to continue to life with her in Vietnam. The tension of the love triangle is heightened because Phunong's older sister is trying to look out for Phunong's future by hooking her up with the idealized 'rich American man from New York.' The fact that Pyle is neither rich nor from New York is only a minor problem for Phunong and her controlling sister. So, Phunong does leave Fowler for Pyle respectfully living apart while courting .As a journalist looking for a story to keep his job in Vietnam, Fowler travels to Hanoi in the North. There, there is a Communist offensive against the French. When he arrives in the embattled North, he is surprised to find Pyle there too. But, why would Pyle there when his business is plastics? What do plastics have to do with an offensive in the North? Pyle tells Fowler that he just came up to see him and see the action for himself, but why? As the two return home in a jeep, they breakdown on the road and are attacked by Communist forces. Pyle then saves Fowler's life, and they return safely to Saigon. While Fowler is ready to believe the worst about Pyle's third force, a fellow British reporter puts him in contact with a Vietnamese friend. The friend leads him to think the worst about Pyle and his reason for being in Vietnam. Plastics are used in toys but they are also use in explosives. When circumstantial evidence confirms the Vietnamese contact's incriminating evidence against Pyle, Fowler's ideas only seem more solid. The final outcome of this movie reveals more about Fowler and Pyle, and it has a quirky twist to it. In spite of what other reviewers and critics have said about THIS version of Green's novel, I find it far superior to the later, more true-to-the-novel 2002 version with the 20-20 hindsight epilogue . To me, there is nothing, whatsoever, corny about the ending of this version. In fact, I think that it is very ingenious!! It weaves political intrigue and a murder mystery together and shows how even an objective investigative journalist can be duped when his own ego is involved.
The novel is sometimes hailed as Graham Greene's best, and this film version is suitably impressive too. (by barnabyrudge)
The Quiet American has a lot to live up to, because it is adapted from possibly the best book that Graham Greene ever wrote. However, it is a very well made and literate film which manages to make a reasonable stab at living up to the forbidding reputation of its source material. Audie Murphy gives a career-best performance as the title character, an American living in Vietnam during the French incursion into the country. He believes that he can make a difference by providing funding for arms, but his political and economic beliefs often lead to death and destruction. A British journalist <more>
named Fowler Michael Redgrave befriends him, but soon their friendship is damaged when the young American has an affair with Fowler's Vietnamese mistress. In the end, Fowler ponders whether to betray the American to his enemies as an act of revenge for what the American has done to his love-life. The film is powerful, absorbing and well-acted. It perhaps could be criticised for the extraordinarily high amount of dialogue it's one of those films where if you stop listening for 30 seconds, you'll lose the plot but that is probably the only true weakness. The themes of betrayal, colonialism, and the wisdom of interfering in the affairs of other nations, are handled thought-provokingly, and the moral dilemma facing the characters at the end are emotionally shattering. Redgrave gives a great performance, conveying the pain of his dilemma with aching conviction.
Excellent in view of subsequent historical events (by caa821)
Audie Murphy was a good-looking man, and the most legitimate of decorated war heroes. However, to describe his acting style -- in any of his films -- as "wooden," in addition to identifying him by name, is unnecessarily redundant.If we were to place some film samples into a time capsule for future generations, to illustrate an example of acting as "wooden," or, say, with a range of "A-to-B" -- Audie's work would be a perfect example we could add some from Patrick Swayze, as well . But in spite of this and other performances which are less than stellar, this <more>
work provides a glimpse of Vietnam and Southeast Asia, presented a decade before the onset of the Vietnam conflict of the 1960's, and is part of the post-war McCarthy era, where our government took paths which history has shown to be less than wise.With this in mind, and viewing this film a half century after it was made, the sense of history it provides is its most powerful attribute.I also could not help but imagine how a film depicting the events in Iraq and the Mideast during the period of the 1990's into the present circumstances, will appear to viewers when it is seen and commented upon, at a site such as this, say, around 2050 or 2060.
Michael Redgrave on film, what a treat! (by arichmondfwc)
I loved the Graham Greene novel. I admit I picked it up secretly from my father's library when I was 15. It stayed with me. I knew about the existence of this 1958 version written and directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz but I had never seen it until now, thank you TCM. I had seen the 2002 with a terrific Michael Caine but the film - a more faithful version of Greene's novel according to the critics and it may be true but the 2002 version left me pleased but unmoved while the 1958 version is much more unsettling, in spite of some hard to understand choices by the filmmakers. Audie Murphy <more>
plays the quiet American, and he is, very quiet. Good looking a real life American war hero but he is not an actor and here he is sharing the frame with Michael Redgrave. Michael Redgrave! The other oddity is the casting of Italian Actress Giorgia Moll as the Vietnamese girl-in-the-middle. She's lovely but I repeat, she's Italian. No, the power force here is Michael Redgrave, A marvelous, fearless performance and that alone makes The Quiet American an absolute must.