THE  QUIET  AMERICAN   - A  Narada   Film Review

   MICHAEL CAINE in
   The Quiet American
   
   DO HAI YEN in
   The Quiet American
   
   BRENDAN FRASER in
   The Quiet American
The Quiet American -  2002   - Philip Noyce-Director   &   William Horberg-Producer

   Normally the differences between a movie and the originating book aren't of any real importance, however in the case of a significant piece of literature, they do. On viewing THE QUIET AMERICAN, I immediately walked out of the theater, slam-dunked my empty popcorn tub into the rubbish bin and went over to the bookstore and bought a copy of Graham Green's novel. It had been 40 years since I had read it, and I was curious as to just how close the movie was to the book. The movie was MUCH more faithful to the book than 99% of Hollywood's usual manipulations and literary manglings, alas these 'minor' differences were enough to irreparably skew the intent and meaning of the original novel.
        Perhaps the most significant difference between book and film was the movie's emphasis on the "international politics" over the personal story of the protagonist and the 'quiet American'. Having made that global misstep, it becomes impossible to end the movie in the powerful manner that Green did. To add insult to injury, as the film ends, we see scrolling newspaper headlines of the escalation of the military conflict in Southeast Asia in the 1960's.
        Was Director Philip Noyce trying for a Pulitzer or an Oscar?    His attempt to push the story as a prescient political piece, an ex-post-facto "I told you so" on Vietnam, tells us we had the wrong man for the job - Noyce will of course get neither a Pulitzer nor an Oscar for his troubles.
        The same may not be said of Michael Caine who plays Fowler, Saigon's cynical resident 'reporter'. This was an Oscar-worthy performance. The others, notably, lovely Do Ha Yen as Phuong, and a credible Brendan Fraser as Pyle, the fledgling CIA officer, made for an absorbing and convincing cinema outing. It should also be noted that the scenes of an earlier Saigon (1952 -1955) and the accurately captured attitudes of the Vietnamese were a tribute to both the book and to history. One is only saddened at how close Noyce came to making a masterpiece
       Enduring Line or Phrase:  "...He was in love with me."

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