A love triangle brews amidst a growing political tempest in this "brilliantly intellectual" (Los Angeles Times) film in which nothing is quite as it seems. Adapted from the acclaimed novel by Graham Greene Academy Award®-winning* writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's screenplay "delivers dialogue that not only sparkles but bites deep with the irony of truth" (Citizen-News).In 1952 Saigon is caught between the corrupt colonial powers and the Communist uprising. An idealistic young American (Audie Murphy) champions a shadowy Third Force but cynical British journalist Thomas Fowler (Michael Redgrave) is concerned only with the American's interest in his mistress. When jealousy forces Fowler to take sides at last the personal and political consequences are devastating.System Requirements: Running Time 122 MinFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: MYSTERY/SUSPENSE Rating: NR UPC: 027616921710 Manufacturer No: 1008133
The Quiet American is a film based on a novel by Graham Greene, written basically as an anti-war movie that was also critical of America's increasing involvement in Vietnam. The plot uses a love triangle between a beautiful young Vietnamese woman and the two protagonists, a young idealistic American named Pyle who sees a Third Force politically for Vietnam, and a cynical British journalist in his 50's. When the book was first published, it was seen by many as being ant-American, however the film version dilutes the geo-political intrigue of the Pyle character, and focusing more on the love triangle aspect of the film.
Nevertheless, this is a very good movie despite its changes from the book. This is because the performances of Audie Murphy and Michael Redgrave are superb. In fact, I would argue that The Quiet America is definitely Murphy's most interesting performance, and possibly the best film he ever did. I know it is my favourite film starring Audie Murphy. His character is charismatic, complex, and contradictory, worldly and yet very naïve. It is a shame he did not do more of these kinds of roles, rather than the usual western, as entertaining as they were.
However, in many ways one could say that this is Michael Redgrave's film. His performance in this film makes one realize just how good an actor he was, right up there with the greatest British actors of his time. It is disappointing that they used an Italian actress, Giorgia Moll, rather than a Vietnamese woman for the third member of the love triangle, but her performance is adequate enough.
Joseph Mankiewicz wrote the screenplay and directed this fine film. Considered one of the great writer/directors in Hollywood history, this film only solidifies his reputation.Read more ›
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
The better version?March 30 2010
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The debate over whether this or the more recent Michael Caine version of "The Quiet American" is better tends to revolve around the ending. The 1958 version is certainly less faithful to the ambiguous Greene novel - nevertheless, the ending the director, Mankiewicz, wrote is perfectly consonant with the rest of the film and has a dramatic truth of its own. The politics of the subject matter should not be allowed to obscure this. Rather than being dismissed as dated and politically incorrect, what recommends the earlier version are its strong cinematic elements - filmed on location in Saigon - and a strong cast, particularly Michael Redgrave's performance. Some viewers may question the acting abilities of Audie Murphy, but his is a rather clever piece of casting. The script is rather too wordy, though rarely dull, and the improbability of a reporter who never reports and carries a camera but never uses it also weakens the story - but the look and mood of this production merit high marks.
68 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Worth seeing only as a time-capsule, not as a filmApril 24 2005
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This 1958 film of Graham Greene's novel is interesting today mostly as an historical artifact. It is not a particularly outstanding example of the art of cinema, just a dated melodrama in which the location exteriors in Saigon lead to interior dialogue scenes that are stagy and leaden and obviously take place on unconvincing studio sets. It is admittedly fascinating to see some of the exact same Saigon locations that were used in the 2002 film, and Michael Redgrave does bring a weight and soul to the role of Fowler.
Sadly, however, the film brutalizes his character. Where Greene's novel was about a world-weary Brit, confronted with a blindly idealistic American willing to sacrifice innocent lives in the name of his goals, the film inverts everything. Pyle is a virtual saint and Fowler merely the gullible old man who plays a part in Pyle's downfall not out of a desire to protect the innocent, but simply to rid himself of a romantic rival. It is not difficult to see why Graham Greene was incensed by the film and disowned it.
Fascinatingly, director/screenwriter Joe Mankiewicz manages to make this total change largely by the addition of one scene at the end. His film basically follows Greene's novel, up until [SPOILER WARNING!] an atrocious final scene in which we learn that Fowler has been hoodwinked all along by the Communists, and has destroyed a noble American who was genuinely bringing freedom and hope to Indochina. A prescient warning about America's doomed involvement in Vietnam becomes a piece of jingoistic propaganda to support the war.
The 2002 film, in comparison, is amazingly faithful to the novel. I don't always hold that as the measure of a film's success, but with a master storyteller like Greene, why mess with perfection. Do not choose this film if you want accomplished filmmaking, or an accurate interpretation of Graham Greene's intentions, for that pick up Phillip Noyce's 2002 film. Watch this only afterwards, to see how a few small changes can undermine an entire narrative.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This Is 1950's American Propaganda, Not A Graham Greene MovieApril 27 2013
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I was enjoying this movie until the final scene with the Inspector, even though there were a few odd touches that baffled me. For example, no mention of opium until an allusion right at the end. No ambiguity in the American's protestations of innocence.
Then came the ending, and as the French Police Inspector made his pitch I realised that the most important part of the novel by Graham Greene had been turned about-face in order to show the American in a good light - ostensibly helping Vietnam.
We know today, and many knew then, that Graham Greene had been prescient in his warning of the consequences of supposedly altruistic American help to Vietnam. This is literature turned into propaganda - the hypocrisy of pretending this is a film of what Graham Greene wrote is appalling.
No matter how sickening the ending was, the final words of the film made it clear that this was not a genuine attempt to make a movie of a book, but was blatantly dictated by American foreign policy. The final words on the screen were -
"To The People of the Republic of Vietnam - to their chosen President and Administrators - our appreciation for their help and kindness."
What an incredible lie. The people of Vietnam did NOT chose Ngo Dinh Diem, the Americans did. Misinformation and propaganda right to the last.
PS However, I did enjoy the scenes of Saigon.
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Cold War garbageDec 2 2011
H. B. Franklin
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This propaganda film was a deliberate rewriting of Greene's great novel. It was designed to build support for more active U.S. involvement of the Ngo Dinh Diem dictatorship. Colonel Edward Lansdale of the C.I.A. had an active engagement in changing the plot from that of the novel, making Fowler into the villain of the story. All this is documented in the Viking Penguin critical edition of the novel, which includes a number of eye-opening documents.
Fraser made Pyle to be naive but good nature and even likable whereas Murphy's rendition was at ...June 9 2015
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although both movies were based on Greene's book of the same name, the 2002 version starring Michael Caine stayed faithful to Greene's original book whereas this 1958 version dramatically altered Greene's story to deliver political propaganda per CIA. i soon read on Wikipedia that Graham Greene was furious after he saw the 1958 movie and vehemently disavowed this film.
politics aside, this movie was very weak 1. casting. whereas Audie Murphy was a known celebrity fit to play the "american hero" in 1958, movie audience today would judge him solely on his acting. It is in the acting department that i find Murphy lacking. his portrayal of the "Quiet American" is amateurish compared to Brandon Fraser's. Fraser made Pyle to be naive but good nature and even likable whereas Murphy's rendition was superficial and perfunctory. the worst casting error was Giorgi Moll, an italian model turned actress, was cast to play the vietnamese girl Phong. unless one lives in a white centric world, it is difficult to capture “make believe” to see a white girl trying to look asian. This is like casting Chow Yun Fat to play James Bond 007.
2. 1958 was an era of "red scare", "black list". movie makers had to comply with US govt edicts including collaborating with CIA to censor and adjust the script. this movie was shot in Vietnam, yet majority of the imagery was chinese thus implicating the “china fear” in US. the home of Phong was of chinese ambiance, from the stove god to the chinese new year banners. The night club where Fowler found his ‘taxi dancers” were chinese run and the ma ma san spoke cantonese. Most significantly, the intermediary who "tricked" Fowler into betraying Pyle to be murdered was a chinese merchant. In fact, i am hard pressed to find anything indigenous to vietnam, as everything was chinese. This shows under CIA censor, vietnam was made to be china and war with vietnam was really war with china. Indeed, LBJ articulated many times to americans that if US “lost” vietnam, it will mean china taking over the entire SE Asia. this plot line and ideology is totally NOT in Greene's original book. Greene was far ahead of the american govt as after 58,000 american lives lost, we now know it had nothing to do with the china. The vietnamese just wanted to have their own country back, not under french colonialists, not under russian comitern, not under china’s Mao and definitely not under americans’ so called “democracy”.
the most funny scene was toward the end of the movie, the vietnamese girl rejected Fowler even he received a divorce consent from his wife from england. Fowler became hysterical. a sad, lonely man. seems like CIA script writer punished the Fowler by taking away his girl for his rejection of american imperialism. But the 2002 movie stayed close to Greene's original novel, the vietnamese girl happily returned to Fowler's arms to be his mistress after Pyle’s assassination and Fowler was a happy man, continuing reporting from Vietnam how US lost the war.
If you only have 2 hours, go watch the 2002 movie. However, if you are a history buff, definitely see both films for comparison and appreciate how US govt propaganda works its magic.