The Quiet American, DVD version starring Audie Murphy
Five out of five stars
Although mega-star Audie Murphy has a significant role in this movie, the real star is Michael Redgrave. While the plot is basically a love triangle with two men and one woman at the vertices, what makes this movie interesting is the setting. It is 1952 in Saigon in what was to become South Vietnam after the departure of the French. At this point, the French still have some form of control, although the communist forces are growing in strength.
In a role completely different from his gun-toting westerns, Murphy plays an idealistic American (Alden Pyle) with a plan to introduce plastics into the Vietnamese economy. He meets experienced British journalist Thomas Fowler, a man known for his political neutrality. The married Fowler has “befriended” a beautiful Vietnamese woman and at that point has no plans to make the relationship more permanent.
This plan is altered when Pyle politely and correctly informs them both that he is in love with Fowler’s consort and wants to marry her and make her an American housewife. This forces Fowler to make a choice regarding which woman he wants in his life. The situation becomes more more complicated when Pyle saves Fowler’s life during an attack by the communist forces.
Generally filmed in Saigon in 1958, I found the backdrop of the city as well as the political situation fascinating. Within the plot, one can see the seeds of how the United States could never succeed in propping up a government in South Vietnam. Although his motives are generally clean, Pyle is killed for them, a death that Fowler’s jealousy helped trigger.
Very prophetic with a backdrop that is exciting to watch, this is a movie that has an old plot of complicated love set within a trigger point of history. So much death and destruction was to follow due to misunderstandings, graft and incompetence.