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The Quiet American

This second film version of Graham Greene's 1952 Vietnam-set novel sees Noyce returning to the liberalism of films like Newsfront. Less obviously literate and sophisticated than Mankiewicz's 1958 version, it is nevertheless one of the more atmospheric, gripping and effective recent forays into the moral twilight of Greeneland. Casting Caine as Fowler, the gone-native Times man in Saigon, whose love for a beautiful Vietnamese (Hai Yen) qualifies his professional and moral ennui, brings pluses and minuses. The actor gives one of his best performances, whether dissembling a new-found inner steel under questioning or breaking down in the privacy of a toilet. That said, he never looks genuinely comfortable in the crumpled white suit of the cynical, public school-educated late colonial. Playing Pyle, the suspiciously well informed American aid worker who muscles in on Fowler's life and love, Fraser exudes a physicality, naivety and air of introspection that seem acceptable, if not altogether appropriate. In mainstream terms, this is a political work and, in aesthetic terms, a quiet triumph for production designer Roger Ford and cameraman Christopher Doyle.

Release details

Rated: 15
Duration: 101 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Phillip Noyce
Screenwriter: Christopher Hampton, Robert Schenkkan
Cast: Michael Caine
Brendan Fraser
Do Thi Hai Yen
Rade Sherbedgia
Tzi Ma
Robert Stanton
Holmes Osborne
Quang Hai
Ferdinand Hoang
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