The Quiet American

1958

Drama / Romance / Thriller

4
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 51%
IMDb Rating 6.8 10 1793

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
July 13, 2021 at 05:09 PM

Cast

Michael Redgrave as Thomas Fowler
Bruce Cabot as Bill Granger
Audie Murphy as The American
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.09 GB
1280*688
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
2 hr 2 min
P/S 0 / 6
2.03 GB
1920*1040
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
2 hr 2 min
P/S 4 / 2

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by secondtake 9 / 10

French colonial Vietnam, and a desperate cynical British reporter whose life, and love, are crumbling

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 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.

Reviewed by barnabyrudge 8 / 10

The novel is sometimes hailed as Graham Greene's best, and this film version is suitably impressive too.

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 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.

Reviewed by wjfickling 7 / 10

Interesting film, but not true to Graham Greene

I just saw this film on Turner Classic Movies. When it was over I was reminded of Hemingway's comment when he was asked his opinion of the film version of "The Snows of Kilimanjaro": "it was okay except for one difference; in my story the protagonist dies, and in the film he lives." This film is as much a distortion of Greene as the other film was of Hemingway; in Greene's novel the title character was intended to be a villain, but in this film he is a hero.

It is not a spoiler to tell you that the title character dies, because the film begins with his death and tells what leads up to it in flashback. In Greene's novel, the seemingly naive, idealistic American who is in (then) French Indochina for vaguely idealistic operative is in fact a sinister undercover CIA operative in cahoots with an unscrupulous general. Together with the general, he plans and executes bombings in public places that result in the deaths of dozens of innocent people, then leaves evidence making it appear that the Communists carried out the bombing. His purpose is to turn the Vietnamese people against both the French and the Communists, leaving them open to intervention by the US, who will of course put the renegade general in charge. The American is seen as so evil by Fowler, the pathetic English journalist who is his rival in love, that Fowler goes along with a plot to have him killed. The novel is intensely anti-American, as was Greene.

By contrast, this film, released in 1958 at the height of the cold war and just after the McCarthy era, could not afford to appear anti-American. The title character is therefore made to appear like a good guy who was indeed hoping for a US-backed "third force" to intervene in Vietnam. He is never identified as a CIA operative, and his complicity in the bombings is revealed as a Communist fabrication intended to dupe the naive Fowler and others. Fowler collaborates in the American's murder because he is a rival in love and not because he is evil. Greene was reportedly outraged at this change and denounced the film. There was some poetic justice: the film was both a commercial and critical failure.

There are some merits to the film. It was filmed on location in Saigon, very unusual for the time when most films like this were filmed in the studio. Consequently, we get to see what Saigon was like in a more innocent time, before large scale US intervention. There are several Asian actors and actresses in minor roles, but not in the key role of Phuong, the Vietnamese prostitute with whom both Fowler and the American fall in love. Phuong is played by a Caucasian actress with poor makeup, a continuation of a lamentable Hollywood practice that lasted until the 1960s. There is a superb performance by Michael Redgrave as Fowler. Audie Murphy sleepwalks through his portrayal of the American.

This film is an interesting period curiosity that is worth watching, but the 2002 film with Michael Caine and Brendan Frasier is much better and much truer to Greene's novel. That version is highly recommended.

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