Quiet American, The (1958): Audie Murphy as Naive American in Vietnam Circa 1952

Directed and written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

A nave American (played by Audie Murphy) in Vietnam in 1952 during the French Indo-China War clashes ideologically with an English correspondent (Michael Redgrave) in this talky, disappointingly sanitized drama based on Graham Greene’s cynical and savvy novel.

Greene’s attack on the U.S. and its botched foreign policy has been diluted by portraying a private American citizen, instead of an official who believes there is an alternative between Communism and French colonialism in that part of the world.

A cynical writer, who loses his objectivity, sides with the Communists who use him as a dupe and ultimately betray him. He is partially responsible for the American’s death by informing the Communist guerrillas that the American is dealing in explosives. In an unconvincing romantic subplot, the writer’s mistress (Georgia Moll) falls in love with the American who proposes to her.

The film’s limited action sequences concern guerrilla activities against the French forces. All in all, one of the weaker films of Mankiewicz, made after reaching a peak with “A Letter to Three Wives” and “All About Eve,” made in 1949-1950, for which he won two consecutive Director Oscars.

Released by Miramax, Philip Noyce’s 2002 remake, co-starring Michael Caine and Brandon Frazer, is both more truthful of the book and more satisfying as a movie.