Tuesday lecture series! Film Series : Apocalypse Then: The Vietnam War On Film

The Quiet American

1958, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 120 min. With Michael Redgrave, Audie Murphy.

Show Times

  • Sat, Feb 10th 5:30pm
  • Tue, Feb 13th 6:00pm

"Mankiewicz was a serious and experienced filmmaker and his artisanship is on point here... The casting of the male leads is superlative." — William Gibson, PopMatters

This astringent, atmospheric adaptation of Graham Greene’s Cold War novel was the first American feature film to be shot on location in Vietnam. A cynical British journalist (Redgrave) grapples with a dangerously naïve American do-gooder (Murphy) in war-torn French Indochina, their ideological conflict complicated by sexual rivalry over a Vietnamese girl (whitewashed by the casting of Italian actress Giorgia Moll). Although writer-director Mankiewicz (reputedly coached by the CIA) controversially toned down Greene’s critique of American imperialism, this is a stronger film than the 2002 remake with Michael Caine: more sharply written, more vividly dramatized, and notably tougher on the central character. Mankiewicz (A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, ALL ABOUT EVE) is one of the screen's all-time masters of voiceover narration, and the voiceover passages, beautifully intoned by Redgrave and accompanied by Mario Nascimbene's percussive score, are among the highlights of the film. Cahiers du Cinéma critics Jean-Luc Godard and Eric Rohmer both selected THE QUIET AMERICAN as the Best Film of 1958. 35mm. (MR)

Tuesday lecture by Nora Annesley Taylor, Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago