The Quiet American (2002)

R | 100-101 mins | Drama | 22 November 2002

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HISTORY

The opening and closing onscreen cast credits differ slightly in order. The film opens with a shimmering image of the Saigon River. Over this image, the off-screen voice of Michael Caine as “Thomas Fowler” recites an elegy to life in Vietnam. His narration is interrupted by the sound of a splash and a cut to the body of “Pyle” floating in the river. Fowler’s narration continues throughout the film. The closing credits contain a number of written acknowledgments to persons and institutions who assisted in the production. Among them were various Vietnamese government departments and locations. “Dipsychus,” the poem partially recited by Fowler in the film, was written in 1850 by English writer Arthur Hugh Clough.
       Although the film was completed in Apr 2001, it was not released until Nov 2002. Miramax Films, the distributor, decided to delay the release after audiences at a New Jersey test screening on 10 Sep 2001 reacted “negatively to the film’s critique of American interventionist policies abroad,” according to a NYT Nov 2002 article. The next day, 11 Sep 2001, terrorists crashed three jets into the World Trade Center Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, causing them to collapse. Miramax then decided to postpone the release indefinitely. In the NYT article, Harvey Weinstein, the head of Miramax, was quoted as saying “My biggest fear was erring on the side of bad taste…In light of everything that happened, you needed to have your head examined if you thought this was a time for questioning America."
       The film’s fidelity to Graham Greene’s novel, in which Greene, according ... More Less

The opening and closing onscreen cast credits differ slightly in order. The film opens with a shimmering image of the Saigon River. Over this image, the off-screen voice of Michael Caine as “Thomas Fowler” recites an elegy to life in Vietnam. His narration is interrupted by the sound of a splash and a cut to the body of “Pyle” floating in the river. Fowler’s narration continues throughout the film. The closing credits contain a number of written acknowledgments to persons and institutions who assisted in the production. Among them were various Vietnamese government departments and locations. “Dipsychus,” the poem partially recited by Fowler in the film, was written in 1850 by English writer Arthur Hugh Clough.
       Although the film was completed in Apr 2001, it was not released until Nov 2002. Miramax Films, the distributor, decided to delay the release after audiences at a New Jersey test screening on 10 Sep 2001 reacted “negatively to the film’s critique of American interventionist policies abroad,” according to a NYT Nov 2002 article. The next day, 11 Sep 2001, terrorists crashed three jets into the World Trade Center Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, causing them to collapse. Miramax then decided to postpone the release indefinitely. In the NYT article, Harvey Weinstein, the head of Miramax, was quoted as saying “My biggest fear was erring on the side of bad taste…In light of everything that happened, you needed to have your head examined if you thought this was a time for questioning America."
       The film’s fidelity to Graham Greene’s novel, in which Greene, according to the film’s director, Phillip Noyce, “defined a particular moment in U.S. history when America started taking responsibility for the world,” seemed especially critical at a time when the United States had just come under terrorist attack. Fowler’s cynical remarks about American intervention only exacerbated the situation. A Sep 2002 The Times, (London) article suggests that the studio ordered Noyce to reedit the film in order to make more ambiguous the criticism of “American adventurism” that screenwriter Christopher Hampton had incorporated into the script.
       Another major difference between the novel and the film is that although the novel was set in 1952, the film’s ending features a collage of newspaper clippings from the late 1950s to the 1960s that trace France’s defeat and America’s entry into the Vietnam war. Mark Gill, the president of Miramax Los Angeles, said in the Times article that Noyce added this montage to link the events of the 1950s to events from the 1960s more familiar to Americans.
       Noyce also decided to change the nationality of Fowler’s assistant, "Mr. Hinh." In the novel, the assistant was Indian, not a Vietnamese working undercover for the Communists. Noyce said that he was inspired to make the change by a story he heard about Vietnamese patriot General An. In the film’s press kit Noyce explained that An, while working as an undercover spy for the Vietnamese, was employed by the French as a censor, by the Americans to gather intelligence and finally by Time magazine and the Reuters news service, making him a triple agent. The Times article notes that Caine and Anthony Minghella, one of the film’s executive producers, finally convinced Weinstein to release the film, and as a result it had its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on 6 Sep 2002. In a Sep 2002 Var news item, Gill stated that the film’s enthusiastic support at the Toronto Film Festival persuaded Miramax to release the film in the U.S.
       According to a Screen International Apr 1991 article, the film was originally to be a co-production between Sydney Pollack’s Mirage Enterprises and Electric Pictures, an independent partnership of Staffan Ahrenberg and Nicole Seguin. Materials contained in the film’s press kit add that Ahrenberg acquired the rights to Greene’s novel in 1988-89 and agreed to develop the project with Pollack, who had the first right of refusal to direct the picture, which was to be scripted by Frank Galati. Press kit materials note that Noyce became interested in acquiring the rights to Greene’s novel in 1995 while on a research trip to Vietnam in which he was accompanying former U.S. military intelligence officers back to their training grounds. When Noyce learned that Mirage and Ahrenberg already owned the rights to the novel, he met with Pollack and his Mirage partner, William Horberg, who then agreed that Noyce should direct the picture.
       By Sep 1995, a Screen International article announced that film project was to be financed by Paramount and that Noyce was to direct. In May 1997, Sean Connery was named to star and Johnny Depp was being considered to co-star, according to May 1997 article in Screen International . Once Paramount rejected the project, Mirage began developing the project with Intermedia Films, according to a Feb 2001 article in Screen International .
       The film began production on 17 Feb 2001, and spent five weeks shooting locations in Vietnam. According to a Nov 2002 HR news item, location shooting was done in Ho Chi Minh City, (which before the Communist takeover was known as Saigon), at the Continental Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, the town of Ninh Binh, the port town of Hoi An, the nearby town of Da Nang and in Hanoi City. Second unit director Dang Nhat Minh, whose father was killed by an American bomber during the war in Vietnam, directed the Saigon square scene in Ho Chi Minh City, according to the HR article. A Sep 2001 NYT article adds that Nguyen Thinh Bac, who worked as a technical advisor on the guillotine sequence, had been imprisoned by the French during the war.
       The Quiet American marked the English-language debut of Vietnamese actress Do Thi Hai Yen, who learned English specifically for the film. It also marked the first major American-financed film to be made in Vietnam since the end of the war. The film had its Vietnamese premiere on 17 Dec 2002 and was commended by the Vietnamese government as “an accurate portrayal of early U.S. involvement in Indochina,” according to a 17 Dec 2002 Reuters news item. The film was selected as one of AFI’s top ten films of the year, and Michael Caine was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor--Drama and for an Academy Award for Best Actor. Philip Noyce was named Best Director of 2002 by the National Board of Review.
       The Quiet American had previously been filmed in 1958 by Figaro, Inc., directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Audie Murphy and Michael Redgrave. There are several differences between that version and the 2002 version. In the 1958 film, Pyle is never given a name, but known only as “The American." "Phuong’s” rejection of Fowler at the end of the 1958 film differs from both the novel and the 2002 film, in which she goes back to Fowler. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Entertainment Weekly
15 Nov 2002
pp. 91-92.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 2001.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 2001
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 2002.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 2002.
---
International Herald Tribune
13 Nov 2002.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Nov 2002.
---
New York Times
9 Sep 2001.
---
New York Times
24 Nov 2002.
---
Screen International
12 Apr 1991.
---
Screen International
29 Sep 1995.
---
Screen International
16 May 1997.
---
Screen International
15 Feb 2001.
---
Screen International
16 Mar 2001.
---
The Times (London)
22 Sep 2002.
---
Variety
19 Dec 1996.
---
Variety
18 Mar 1998.
---
Variety
13 Dec 2001.
---
Variety
9 Sep 2002.
---
Variety
17 Sep 2002.
---
Variety
23 Sep 2002.
---
Variety
25 Sep 2002.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Miramax Films and Intermedia Films present
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir, Vietnam unit
2d asst dir, Vietnam unit
2d asst dir, prep
3d asst dir
3rd asst dir, Vietnam unit
Addl asst dir, Vietnam unit
Addl asst dir, Vietnam unit
Addl asst dir, Vietnam unit
Addl asst dir, Vietnam unit
2d unit asst dir, Vietnam unit
PRODUCERS
IMF prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
IMF exec prod
IMF exec prod
IMF exec prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Line prod
IMF line prod
Assoc prod
Giai Phong Studios exec
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog and Steadicam op
Addl photog
2d unit cam, Vietnam unit
Still photog
Still photog
Still photog
Focus puller
Focus puller, Vietnam unit
Focus puller B cam
2d unit focus puller, Vietnam unit
Clapper loader, B cam
2d unit clapper loader, Vietnam unit
Video split op
Gaffer
Rigging gaffer, Vietnam unit
Rigging gaffer, Vietnam unit
Rigging gaffer, Vietnam unit
Best boy
Best boy elec, Vietnam unit
Elec, Vietnam unit
Elec, Vietnam unit
Elec, Vietnam unit
Elec, Vietnam unit
Elec, Vietnam unit
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec, Vietnam unit
Key grip
2d unit grip, Vietnam unit
Best boy grip
Best boy grip
Grip asst
Grip asst
Grip asst
Grip asst, Vietnam unit
Grip asst, Vietnam unit
Grip asst, Vietnam unit
Grip asst, Vietnam unit
Rigging services
Rigger, Vietnam unit
Rigger, Vietnam unit
Rigger, Vietnam unit
Board op
Generator op, Vietnam unit
Generator op, Vietnam unit
Generator op, Vietnam unit
Generator op, Vietnam unit
Generator op, Vietnam unit
Generator op, Vietnam unit
Generator op, Vietnam unit
Clapper loader
Video asst, Vietnam unit
Video asst, Vietnam unit
Cam and lenses by
Lighting and equipment, Vietnam
Lighting and equipment, Australia
Lighting and equipment, Australia
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Art dir
Art dir, Vietnam unit
Art dir, Vietnam unit
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir, Vietnam unit
Asst des
Storyboard artist
Graphics des
Graphics asst
Art dept coord, Vietnam unit
Art dept coord
Asst coord, Vietnam unit
Art dept runner
Art dept runner
Art dept runner
Art dept runner, Vietnam unit
Art dept runner, Vietnam unit
Art dept translator, Vietnam unit
Art dept translator, Vietnam unit
Art dept translator, Vietnam unit
Art dept translator, Vietnam unit
Art dept translator, Vietnam unit
Art dept translator, Vietnam unit
Art dept translator, Vietnam unit
Art dept translator, Vietnam unit
Art dept translator, Vietnam unit
Art dept translator, Vietnam unit
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Visual eff ed
Rushes coord
Supv conform ed
Conform ed
Conform ed
Conform ed
Conform ed
Neg matching
Negative Cutting Services
Rushes telecine transfer
High definiton grade & video mastering
FSU prod
High definition finishing
High definition finishing
Picture post facility
Film Laboratory
Dir of prod, Atlab
Lab liaison
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Asst set dec, Vietnam unit
Asst set dec, Vietnam unit
Asst set dec, Vietnam unit
Asst set dec, Vietnam unit
Asst set dec, Vietnam unit
Asst set dec, Vietnam unit
Asst set dec, Vietnam unit
Asst set dec, Vietnam unit
Asst set dec, Vietnam unit
Asst set dec, Vietnam unit
Asst set dec, Vietnam unit
Asst set dec, Vietnam unit
Lead set dresser/buyer, Vietnam unit
Buyer/Dresser, Vietnam unit
Buyer/Dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Asst dresser, Vietnam unit
Buyer, Vietnam unit
Buyer, Vietnam unit
Buyer, Vietnam unit
Buyer, Vietnam unit
Prop master
Prop master, Vietnam unit
Prop master, Vietnam unit
Asst prop master
Standby props
Asst standby props
Standby props asst, Vietnam unit
Standby props asst, Vietnam unit
Props asst
Prop asst, Vietnam unit
Prop asst, Vietnam unit
Prop asst, Vietnam unit
Head scenic artist
Head scenic artist, Vietnam unit
Scenic artist, Vietnam unit
Scenic artist, Vietnam unit
Scenic artist, Vietnam unit
Draughtperson
Draughtperson
Const mgr
Const coord
Const coord, Vietnam unit
Const foreman
Const foreman, Vietnam unit
Const foreman, Vietnam unit
Leading hand
Leading hand
Leading hand
Leading hand
Leading hand
Leading hand-steel
Miniatures leading hand
Miniatures leading hand
Set builder, Vietnam unit
Set builder, Vietnam unit
Set builder, Vietnam unit
Set builder, Vietnam unit
Set builder, Vietnam unit
Set builder, Vietnam unit
Set builder, Vietnam unit
Set builder, Vietnam unit
Set builder, Vietnam unit
Set builder, Vietnam unit
Set builder, Vietnam unit
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
On set carpenter, Vietnam unit
Miniatures carpenter
Miniatures carpenter
Miniatures carpenter
Miniatures carpenter
Miniatures carpenter
Miniatures carpenter
Miniatures carpenter
Miniatures carpenter
Miniatures carpenter
Minatures carpenter
Miniatures carpenter
Miniatures carpenter
Miniatures foreman
Miniatures trade asst
Miniatures trade asst
Miniatures asst
Miniatures asst
Miniatures asst
Miniatures asst
Miniatures asst
Miniatures asst
Miniatures asst
Tool tech
Paint foreman
Paint foreman
Painter
Painter
Painter, Vietnam unit
Painter, Vietnam unit
Painter, Vietnam unit
On set painter, Vietnam unit
Paint labourer
Paint labourer
Paint labourer
Paint labourer
Set finisher
Set finisher
Stand-by set finisher
Greensman
On set greens, Vietnam unit
Greens labour, Vietnam unit
Greens driver, Vietnam unit
Greens driver, Vietnam unit
Picture vehicle coord
Picture vehicle asst
Vehicles asst, Vietnam unit
Vehicles asst, Vietnam unit
Cyclo wrangler, Vietnam unit
Tech asst, Vietnam unit
Const security, Vietnam unit
Trade asst
Trade asst
Trade asst
Trade asst
Head stagehand
Stagehand
Stagehand
Stagehand
Stagehand
Runner/Driver [sets]
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Cost supv, Vietnam unit
Cost supv, Vietnam unit
Cost coord
Armourer
Armourer, Vietnam unit
Armourer asst, Vietnam unit
Armourer asst, Vietnam unit
Armourer asst, Vietnam unit
Key standby
Asst standby
Asst standby
Buyer/Standby
Cost cutter
Cost asst
Cost asst, Vietnam unit
Cost const
Cost const
Cost constructoin
Milliner
MUSIC
Orig mus prod, arr & orch
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Vietnamese mus adv
Orig mus and orch cond/Addl orch
Rec eng and mixed by
Asst eng at Air
Asst eng at Air
Orig mus rec at
Orch contractor
Orch leader
Choir
Mus programming and keyboards
Mus programming and keyboards
Cimbalom
Flutes
Percussion
Vocals
Vocals rec
at North Studio
Asst to Mr. Armstrong
L'Arc en Ciel dance mus rec at
Dance mus arr
Dance mus rec and mixed by
On set mus adv
Addl mus
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd des and eff ed
Eff ed
Eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
UK ADR ed
Boom op
2d boom op
Sd asst, Vietnam unit
Sd asst
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR rec
ADR rec
Foley rec
Foley walker
Foley walker
Mix asst
Mix asst
Sd post facility
UK ADR rec
Twickenham Film Studio
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Senior eff tech
Senior eff tech
Senior eff tech
Senior eff tech
Senior eff tech
Senior eff tech
Senior eff tech
Spec eff welder
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst, Vietnam unit
Spec eff asst, Vietnam unit
Spec eff tech, Vietnam unit
Spec eff asst, Vietnam unit
Visual eff
Visual eff supv
Visual eff prod
Spec eff coord
Main titles des
Matte painter
Matte painter
2D supv
3D supv
Compositor
Compositor
Compositor
Compositor
Compositor
Compositor
Compositor
Compositor
2D compositor
2D compositor
Digital film bureau supv
Scanning and rec
Scanning and rec
Scanning and rec
Addl visual eff
GMD prod
GMD prod
Newspaper seq des
Newspaper seq des
Newspaper seq des
Prod asst [spec eff]
Eff ed
Eff ed
Opticals
Digital grading and opt eff
Atlab prod
Digital grading and eff
Digital liaison
Digital artist
Subtitles and end credits
Senior anim
DANCE
Choreographer
Asst choreography
MAKEUP
Supv makeup and hair artist & Mr. Caine's makeup a
Key makeup artist & Mr. Fraser's makeup artist
Key hairdresser
Makeup/Hairstylist
Makeup/Hairstylist
Makeup artist, Vietnam unit
Makeup artist, Vietnam unit
Makeup artist, Vietnam unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting coord
European casting
European casting
Casting asst
Casting asst
Casting asst
Casting asst, Vietnam unit
Casting asst, Vietnam unit
Casting asst, Vietnam unit
Casting asst, Vietnam unit
Casting & extras liaison, Vietnam unit
Casting & extras liaison, Vietnam unit
Casting & extras liaison, Vietnam unit
Casting & extras liaison, Vietnam unit
Unit prod mgr
Unit mgr, Vietnam unit
Unit mgr
2d unit coord
Asst prod mgr
Scr supv
2d unit cont, Vietnam unit
Prod adv
Prod adv
Prod adv and loc supv
Planning mgr
Prod coord
Pre-prod mgr
Asst coord
Post prod supv
Post prod coord
Post prod coord
Prod asst
[prod asst] For Intermedia and Pacific
[prod asst] For Intermedia and Pacific
[prod asst] For Intermedia and Pacific
[prod asst] For Intermedia and Pacific
[prod asst] For Intermedia and Pacific
[prod asst] For Intermedia and Pacific
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Mr. Fraser
Asst to Mr. Fraser
Asst to Mr. Noyce
Asst to Mr. Pollack
Asst to Mr. Horbert
Asst to Ms. McLaughlin
Asst to Mr. Barnard
Asst to Mr. Caine
Mr. Noyce's liaison, adv & translator
Tech adv
Unit asst, Vietnam unit
Unit asst, Vietnam unit
Unit asst, Vietnam unit
Unit asst, Vietnam unit
Unit asst, Vietnam unit
Unit asst
Unit asst
Unit asst
Unit asst
Unit asst
Unit asst
Prod runner
Prod runner
Prod runner
Prod runner
Prod runner
Prod runner
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod secy
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Loc asst, Vietnam unit
Loc asst, Vietnam unit
Loc asst, Vietnam unit
Loc asst, Vietnam unit
Loc scout, Vietnam unit
Loc scout, Vietnam unit
Loc liaison prod contact, Vietnam unit
Travel coord
Travel consultant
Freight coord
Accounting services
Financial controller
Accountant
Accountant
Art dept accountant
Asst accountant
Prod accountant
Accounts asst
Accounts asst
Accounts asst
Accounts asst
Animal wrangler
Dial coach
Dial coach
Dial coach
Dial coach
Dial coach
Cast driver
Cast driver
Mr. Fraser's security
Unit pub
Loc pub
Caterer
Catering asst
Catering asst
Catering asst
Catering asst
Catering asst
Catering supv, Vietnam unit
Catering, Vietnam unit
Catering, Vietnam unit
Caterer, Vietnam unit
Unit nurse
Safety supv
First aid asst
Medical/Dental clinic, Vietnam unit
Transport/accomodation coord, Vietnam unit
Asst transport
Freight coord
Asst freight coord
Asst freight coord
Base liaison
Truck loader, Vietnam unit
Walkie talkie asst, Vietnam unit
Security, Vietnam unit
Security, Vietnam unit
Security, Vietnam unit
Security, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
Translator, Vietnam unit
2d unit translator, Vietnam unit
International travel
Post prod travel
Post prod travel
Freight services
Freight services
Freight services
Freight services
Prod financing provided to IMF2 by
Australian legal services
Australian legal services
Australian legal services
Legal counsel, Vietnam
Legal counsel, Vietnam
Insurance broker
Insurance broker
Completion guarantor
STAND INS
Double
Double
Double
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt supv
Asst stunt coord
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col grader
Col
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Quiet American by Graham Greene (London, 1955).
AUTHOR
SONGS
“Nuoc Non Lam Son,” written by Hoang Quy, performed by Manh Phat
“Tieng Sao Trong Suong,” traditional, performed by Co Ly Nuong
“Song from Hue,” traditional, performed by Lo Ng Uyen Thy, Do Thi Le Tuyt and Le Thi Thanh Mai
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SONGS
“Nuoc Non Lam Son,” written by Hoang Quy, performed by Manh Phat
“Tieng Sao Trong Suong,” traditional, performed by Co Ly Nuong
“Song from Hue,” traditional, performed by Lo Ng Uyen Thy, Do Thi Le Tuyt and Le Thi Thanh Mai
“Nhac Long,” written by Canh Than, performed by Ngoc Bao
“Mademoiselle de Paris,” composed by Paul Durand/Henri Contet/Eric Maschwitz/Mitchell Parish
©1948 Ed. Mus. Continental-Intersong (assigned to Warner/Chappell Music France S.A.), used by permission of Warner/Chappell Music Australia Pty Ltd., all rights reserved, performed by Natasha Hunter
“Besame Mucho,” written by Consuelo Velazquez/Ricardo Lopez Mendez/Sunny Skylar, Southern Music Publsihing Co (A’Asia) Pty Ltd., licensed from Southern Music Publishing Co (A’Asia) P/L
“Tieng Goi Thanh Nien, The Call to Youth,” written by Luu Huu Phuoc, performed by The Army Music Band
“Je suis swing,” composed by André Hornez and John Hess (assigned to Warner/Chappell Music France S.A.), used by permission of Warner/Chappell Music Australia Pty Ltd., all rights reserved, performed by Johnny Hess
“So Do I,” written by Johnny Burke/Arthur Johnston, © Anne-Rachel Music Corporation & J. Albert & Son Pty Ltd.
“June Light,” composed by Jack Trombey, Rouge Music Ltd./De Wolfe Limited
“Dich Mau Biet Kim Lang,” traditional, performed by Co Nam Can Tho
“La Seine,” composed by Guy Lafarge/Flavien Monod
©1948 Société des Editions Royalty (assigned to Editions et Productions Théâtrales Chappell), used by permission of Warner/Chappell Music Australia Pty Ltd., all rights reserved, performed by Christian Dolislager
“Tieng Dan Ai,” written by Hoang Trong & Quoc Bao, performed by Moc Lan
“Mon ange,” lyrics by Jean Féline/Bruno Coquatrix, ©1940 Warner/Chappell Music France SA (ex Editions Musicales Ray Ventura), used by permission of Warner/Chappell Music Australia Pty Ltd., all rights reserved, performed by Leo Marjanc
“Exterior l’arc en ciel,” written by William Motzing
“Suoi Mo” and “Thien Thai,” written by Van Cao, performed by Hong Nhung
“J’ai deux amours,” composed by Vincent Scotto/Geo. Koger/Henri Varna, ©Editions Salabert S.A. (AC), Warner/Chappell Music Australia Pty Ltd., all rights reserved, performed by Natasha Hunter
“Our Love Affair,” written by Arthur Freed and Roger Edens, ©1940 EMI Feist Catalog Inc., licensed by EMI Catalogue Partnership Australia Pty Limited
“11 Hours,” written by Joe E. Rand, Superscore Music (ASCAP), performed by Joe E. Rand
“La vie en rose,” music by Louiguy, lyrics by Edith Piaf, published by Campbell Connelly & Co (Aust) Pty Ltd., performed by Louis Armstrong, courtesy of MCA Records Inc., under license from Universal Music Aust Pty Ltd
“Song for Phuong,” composed by Craig Armstrong, lyrics by Craig Armstrong & Hong Nhung, performed by Hong Nhung
“Mon homme,” composed by Maurice Yvain/Jacques Charles/Albert Willemetz, ©Salabert Soc (OA)/Ascherberg Hopwood and Crew Ltd. (AP), used by permission of Warner/Chappell Music Australia Pty Ltd., all rights reserved, performed by Sidney Bechet
“Insensiblement,” composed by Paul Misraki, ©1939 Editions Imperia (assigned to Warner/Chappell Music France S.A.), used by permission of Warner/Chappell Music Australia Pty Ltd., all right reserved.
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COMPOSERS
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DETAILS
Release Date:
22 November 2002
Premiere Information:
Toronto Film Festival premiere: 6 September 2002
New York and Los Angeles release: 22 November 2002
Vietnamese premiere: 17 December 2002
Production Date:
17 February--late April 2001 at Fox Studios, Sydney, Australia
Copyright Claimant:
IMF-Internationale Medien und Film GmbH & Co. 2 Produktions KG
Copyright Date:
2001
Copyright Number:
Physical Properties:
Sound
dts Digital Sound; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound; Dolby Digital in selected theatres
Color
Kodak Australasia; Fuji Vision
gauge
35mm
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
100-101
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Australia, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
38789
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1952 Saigon, Thomas Fowler, a seasoned correspondent for The Times (London) who has been covering the French-Communist conflict in Vietnam, is summoned to Inspector Vigot’s office to identify Alden Pyle, whose body was found floating in the Saigon River. After identifying the corpse at the morgue, Fowler crosses the newly poured cement floor in the hallway of his house and tells his young Vietnamese mistress, Phuong, that Pyle has been assassinated. Fowler then recalls the first time he met Pyle, on the terrace of the Hotel Continental in Saigon, a hotel frequented by Americans: Pyle, an idealistic young American who believes that he can “make a difference” in the war-torn country, eagerly introduces himself to Fowler as a member of the medical division of an economic aid mission. Fowler, who prides himself on being a dispassionate reporter of events, is amused by the American’s certainty that he can make things better. Later at his office, Fowler’s assistant Hinh hands him a telegram from his London editor ordering his return to England. To justify staying in Vietnam, Fowler decides to write a story about Phat Diem, a village in the North under siege by Communists. That night at a social gathering attended by Joe Tunney of the American Delegation, Fowler introduces Phuong to Pyle, who is enchanted by her beauty. After Pyle is dragged to a brothel by Bill Granger, a drunken, crude American, Fowler comes to his rescue and invites Pyle to join him and Phuong for dinner at the L’Arc en Ciel dance hall. There the naïve Pyle is shocked as ... +


In 1952 Saigon, Thomas Fowler, a seasoned correspondent for The Times (London) who has been covering the French-Communist conflict in Vietnam, is summoned to Inspector Vigot’s office to identify Alden Pyle, whose body was found floating in the Saigon River. After identifying the corpse at the morgue, Fowler crosses the newly poured cement floor in the hallway of his house and tells his young Vietnamese mistress, Phuong, that Pyle has been assassinated. Fowler then recalls the first time he met Pyle, on the terrace of the Hotel Continental in Saigon, a hotel frequented by Americans: Pyle, an idealistic young American who believes that he can “make a difference” in the war-torn country, eagerly introduces himself to Fowler as a member of the medical division of an economic aid mission. Fowler, who prides himself on being a dispassionate reporter of events, is amused by the American’s certainty that he can make things better. Later at his office, Fowler’s assistant Hinh hands him a telegram from his London editor ordering his return to England. To justify staying in Vietnam, Fowler decides to write a story about Phat Diem, a village in the North under siege by Communists. That night at a social gathering attended by Joe Tunney of the American Delegation, Fowler introduces Phuong to Pyle, who is enchanted by her beauty. After Pyle is dragged to a brothel by Bill Granger, a drunken, crude American, Fowler comes to his rescue and invites Pyle to join him and Phuong for dinner at the L’Arc en Ciel dance hall. There the naïve Pyle is shocked as American men vie to buy tickets to dance with young Vietnamese women. While dancing with Phuong, Pyle says that he knows only two words of Vietnamese. Phuong’s avaricious older sister, Miss Hei, joins them at the table, and upon learning that Pyle is unmarried, suggests that he visit her and Phuong while Fowler is away. After leaving the women, Fowler tells Pyle that when he met her, Phuong, the daughter of a good family, was forced to work as a taxi dancer after her father’s death left her penniless. Upon returning home that night, Fowler tells Phuong that he has been called back to London. When she asks to go with him, he declares that he would marry her if he could, but warns that his Roman Catholic wife will never grant him a divorce. Some time later, as Fowler nears Phat Diem, he is surprised to see Pyle, who claims that he came to get a “first-hand look” at his medical team. When they find the villagers massacred and the ground littered with dead bodies, Fowler’s French escorts blame the Communists for the murders, but Fowler questions what motive the Communists would have to kill innocent villagers. That night, they take shelter in a bunker where Fowler asks Pyle his real reason for coming. Pyle replies that he has fallen in love with Phuong and wants to “protect her.” Upon awakening the next morning, Fowler finds a note from the departed Pyle, stating that he will talk to him about Phuong in Saigon. When Fowler returns to Saigon he files his story, then watches in dismay as a rally is held to honor General Thé, a Vietnamese warlord who has broken allegiance with the French and thus is being hailed as the leader of a new political party. On the outskirts of the rally, Pyle looks on approvingly. Later, Pyle comes to the house to propose to Phuong, infuriating Fowler. After Pyle leaves, Fowler writes a letter to his wife, asking for a divorce. Months later, Fowler crosses a dangerous stretch along the Cambodian border to interview Thé and is surprised to see Pyle, who explains that he has set up camp with his medical team. When Thé refuses to meet with Fowler, Pyle arranges an interview in which Muoi, a Vietnamese businessman, translates. After Fowler implies that Thé was responsible for the massacre near Phat Diem, Thé becomes enraged and storms off. Fowler then spots Joe lurking in the shadows. Pyle unexpectedly asks Fowler for a ride back to Saigon, and as night falls, their car runs out of gas, leaving them stranded. Nearby is a watchtower being guarded by Vietnamese soldiers, and Fowler and Pyle take refuge there. Later that night, they hear cars approach and a voice calls out to the soldiers to turn over the foreigners. Grabbing one of the soldier’s rifles, Pyle jumps down from the tower and urges Fowler to follow. Fowler injures his ankle in the leap and Pyle drags him to safety just as their assailants fire-bomb the tower. Because Fowler is unable to walk, Pyle leaves him to go in search of help. While he is alone, Fowler recalls the first time he saw Phuong at the L’Arc en Ciel as she was being pawed by crass Americans. His reverie of Phuong is interrupted when Pyle arrives with some French soldiers. Upon returning to Saigon, Fowler becomes alarmed by the sudden growth of Thé’s army and begins to suspect that Joe and Muoi are backing the general. Phuong welcomes Fowler home and hands him a letter from his wife in London, which he opens and hides under his pillow when Pyle arrives unexpectedly. Fowler then announces that his wife has granted him a divorce. Some time later, Pyle, Phuong and her sister come to Fowler’s office, where Phuong’s sister confronts him with the letter in which his wife has stated that she will never grant him a divorce. Affronted, they accuse Fowler of lying and leave. When they depart, Hinh informs Fowler that he and some associates have learned that Muoi has been avoiding customs on the goods he imports. When Hinh states that a new shipment has just arrived at Muoi’s warehouse, Fowler and Hinh break into the warehouse and find containers labeled “diolacton” with Joe Tunney as their designated consignee. Returning home to find that Phuong has left him for Pyle, Fowler proceeds to Pyle’s office and then his house, where he stands forlornly in the street. Later, when Fowler asks Pyle about diolacton, Pyle says that it is a plastic used in the manufacture of eyeglasses. Soon after, Fowler is seated on the terrace of the Continental Hotel when a violent explosion rocks the square, killing and maiming innocent civilians. Horrified, Fowler runs into the carnage to help the injured while Pyle coldly observes from a distance and wipes a patch of blood from his pant leg. Back at his office, Fowler is recalling the horrific experience to Hinh when he realizes that he saw Pyle speaking fluent Vietnamese. When Fowler researches diolacton and discovers that it is used in making explosives, he realizes that the Americans are supplying Thé with the materials to make bombs. Emboldened, Hinh informs Fowler that Pyle works for the CIA and asks him to set up a meeting to which the unsuspecting Pyle will come without his bodyguards. When Fowler hesitates, Hinh counsels that “one must take sides if one is to remain human.” Consequently, Fowler invites Pyle to his house, and when Pyle arrives with his dog, he fervently defends Thé as the one person who can stop Communism and then admits that the general ordered the assassination attempt on Fowler. Appalled by the American’s arrogance and certainty about what is right, Fowler decides to aid Hinh in his plot and arranges to meet Pyle at a restaurant that night. Later that evening, Fowler is seated at an outdoor restaurant as Pyle crosses a bridge with his dog and is accosted by knife-wielding assailants. As the assailants pursue Pyle into the dark alleyways, a drunken Granger plops down at Fowler’s table, saddened by his son’s recent diagnosis with polio and desperate to talk to a familiar face. Unnerved by the turn of events, Fowler excuses himself and sees Hinh ride off on his bicycle. Late that night, after Vigot has summoned Fowler to identify Pyle’s body, Vigot comes to Fowler’s house and states that he has proof that Pyle was there earlier because Pyle’s dog, whose throat was slashed, had wet cement from Fowler’s floor between his toes. After responding that “there is a war on and people are dying every day,” Fowler goes to L’Arc en Ciel and buys a ticket to dance with Phuong. Phuong is unresponsive until Fowler promises never to leave, after which she embraces him. Once at home, Fowler tells Phuong that he needs to apologize, and she replies “not to me, never to me.” +

Legend
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Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.