A day late, a bit slime on content, but not forgotten…
Since the death of Robert McNamara last week I’ve been thinking a lot about the man who was often called the “Architect of the Vietnam War.” And I was reminded of one of my favorite films of the last decade that explored the American involvement that led to the war in Vietnam, Phillip Noyce’s excellent 2001 adaptation of Graham Greene classic novel The Quiet American.
Phillip Noyce isn’t a director who I’m particularly fond of. I’ve sat though five or six of his films, but the only two that left any kind of impression on me were his terrific thriller Dead Calm (1989) and The Quiet American. Joseph L. Mankiewicz was the first director to turn Graham Greene’s novel into a film, but Phillip Noyce’s 2001 remake of The Quiet American is not only a better movie than the original, but I also think it’s one of the best adaptations of Graham Greene’s work that I’ve seen.
The film stars Michael Caine in what is arguably one of his finest roles. In the film Caine plays a married British journalist named Thomas Fowler who is living in Vietnam and having an affair with a young Vietnamese woman called Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen). After Thomas meets an idealistic American by the name of Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser) and introduces him to Phoung, the stage is set for a complicated love triangle that plays out against the backdrop of the escalating political situation in Vietnam. The plot may sound a bit dry, but The Quiet American is actually a very suspenseful film that is filled with political intrigue and beautifully shot by the incredibly talented cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
Miramax shelved the film for more than a year because producers were concerned that it would be seen as anti-American after the terrorist attacks on September 11th. Thankfully Michael Caine was able to persuade the studio to screen the film at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival where it received great reviews and afterward it was finally released into theaters. The film went on to win many awards and Michael Caine was even nominated for an Oscar for his performance. If you haven’t had an opportunity to see the film yet, now might be an appropriate time.
Modern Mondays is an ongoing project here at Cinebeats where I share a few thoughts or lengthy rants and raves about my favorite films produced during the last decade. Films previously mentioned on Modern Mondays include: