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The Quiet American is a 2002 film adaptation of Graham Greene's bestselling novel of the same name. It was directed by Phillip Noyce and starred Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser, and Do Thi Hai Yen.

The 2002 version of The Quiet American, in contrast to the 1958 version, depicted Greene's original ending and treatment of the principal Americanmarker character, Pyle. Like the novel, the film illustrates Pyle's moral culpability in fostering intrigue within the South Vietnamese government. Going beyond Greene's original work, the film used a montage ending with superimposed images of American soldiers from the intervening decades of the Vietnam War.

Miramax had paid $5.5 million for the rights to distribute the film in North America and some other territories[321862], and this film went on grossing US $12.9 million in limited theatrical release in the United Statesmarker. Michael Caine was nominated for the Oscar as Best Actor.


Set in the early 1950s in Saigonmarker, Vietnammarker, during the end of the First Indochina War, on one level The Quiet American is a love story about the triangle that develops between a British journalist in his fifties, a young American idealist and a Vietnamese girl, but on another level it is also about the political turmoil and growing American involvement that led to the Vietnam War.

Fowler, who narrates the story, is involved in the war only as an observer, apart from one crucial instant. Pyle, who represents America and its policies in Vietnam, is a CIA operative sent to steer the war according to America’s interests, and is passionately devoted to the ideas of York Harding, an American foreign policy theorist who said that what Vietnam needed was a “third player” to take the place of both the colonialists and the Vietnamese rebels and restore order. This third player was plainly meant to be America, and so Pyle sets about creating a “Third Force” against the Viet Minh by using a Vietnamese splinter group headed by corrupt militia leader General Thé (based on the actual Trinh Minh The). His arming of Thé's militia with American weaponry leads to a series of terrorist bombings in Saigon. These bombings, dishonestly blamed on the Communists in order to further American outrage, kill a number of innocent people, including women and children.

Meanwhile, Pyle has stolen Fowler’s Vietnamese mistress Phuong, promising her marriage and security. When Fowler finds out about Pyle's involvement in the bombings, he takes one definitive action to seal all of their fates. He indirectly agrees to let his assistant, Hinh, and his Communist cohorts confront Pyle; when Pyle tries to flee, Hinh fatally stabs him. Phuong subsequently returns to Fowler, and while the local French police commander suspects Fowler's role in Pyle's murder, he has no evidence and does not pursue the matter.


Academy Awards

Award Person
Best Actor Michael Caine

Production Notes

  • The film ends with a series of newspaper articles looking into the future. Below a headline from 1954 is imposed the famous image of General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner. This occurred in 1968.
  • In the DVD documentary, actor Brendan Fraser states, "In many ways, Alden Pyle is the first Cold War warrior."
  • In the DVD documentary, executive producer Sydney Pollack states, "This is a country, that you hear an explosion, it's not usually a movie. It's usually a war."

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