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The Quiet American (Sous-titres français) [Import]
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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
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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
As my title suggests, the closest parallel to this movie are the film versions of "Crime and Punishment." In Dostoevsky's book, Raskolnikov deceives his own conscience by murdering a mean-spirited moneylender. It sounds so reasonable on the surface. Alas, the evil inevitably follows him like a shadow. Essential to the book and the films are the cat and mouse interrogations by the Police Inspector Porfiry of Raskolnikov where the officer hints why so many criminals ultimately confess - to calm their own soul.
Now to "The Quiet American." Because other reviews discuss the plot, I include some spoilers...so if this disturbs you, stop HERE. In his sexual rivalry with a young idealist American who falls in love with his beautiful Vietnamese mistress, Thomas Fowler let's himself be manipulated to let others murder the American for political reasons. Fowler himself has just selfish not political reasons to set his rival up.
Possibly the best section of the movie is the ending - the clever, piercing interrogations by Police Inspector Vigot of Thomas Fowler about the crime. Fowler believes his intelligence as well as his non-participation in the actual physical parts of the crime can save him from conviction.
Does Fowler have a way out...I don't mean a way to deflect blame to others... but a way out for his own soul? A way out to explain his conduct to others, including his lover, or himself? A way out to God? This movie answers that question in a devastating way. I can't say enough good things about Michael Redgrave's performance as Thomas Fowler, a world-weary, intellectual reporter unable to comprehend or control his dark, powerful passions. [I can't think of another performance by this British actor that is more perfect than the one he offers in this movie].
As regards comparison to the newer version of the movie, made in 2002, no doubt about it...that later film is extremely well made. Nevertheless, this 1958 picture touched my sentiments in a deeper place. Subjectively, then, I prefer this version.
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.
This thrilling, beautifully filmed quiet actioner, set in Vietnam circa the early 1950s, is a film I think to be the opposite bookend of the great Michael Redgrave's career, to his early turn in Hitchcock's THE LADY VANISHES (vid. my review). Here, Redgrave plays British journalist Thomas Fowler, a communist-leaning uninterested third party reporting on the ugly occurrences in Indochina (to whit, Vietnam.)
Fowler, described oddly as a diplomat, is reporting on events in Saigon when he and a Vietnamese girl (Phuong, played by Giorgia Moll) end up in a sad love triangle involving the American. In the end the American gets the girl and Fowler graciously steps aside--brokenhearted, but he is English, after all. Only Redgrave could do this sort of thing well. Added to which Fowler ends up playing the dupe of the local Chinese commies and getting innocent people killed through his gross misjudgment of a man who merely made him jealous.
The message here, as subtly anticommie as it gets, gets good, but audiences didn't get it at the time. That is a damned shame, and a typical cheat of Redgrave, who was badly cheated out of everything in my opinion. The cinematography is rich and locales stunning, shot on location in Saigon amazingly enough. The black and white only adds to the Kurosawa-like air. Mankiewicz certainly learned well from the master.
Audie Murphy plays the mysterious American, billed only as "The American"--a mysterious character only because he behaves mysteriously in an otherwise lackluster role. But Redgrave! I always say Redgrave got cheated by the entire racket. He should have had a third of Cary Grant's roles, a third of Erroll Flynn's, and a third of Stewart Granger's. He was a lovely man, young and old, and what an actor. This film is sophisticated, smart and tense: the perfect vehicle for Redgrave even if they did mangle Greene's novel a bit.