UGLY AMERICAN, THE: DVD
American ambassador Harrison Carter MacWhite (Marlon Brando) to the strife-torn Southeast Asian nation of Sarkhan, attempts to protect the weakened democracy from the hostile Communist north by building a vital road into the country's interior. But "The Ugly American" is met with suspicion and hatred by the locals, including an influential freedom fighter, his old friend Deong (Eiji Okada) now suspected of being a Communist agent.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Highly controversial, filming in Thailand was okayed only after intervention from President John F. Kennedy. Kukrit Pramoj, who plays Kwen Sai, the prime minister of fictional Sarkhan and served as the film's technical consultant, later went on to become Thailand's real-life premier. These bits of trivia provide some additional context for this cold war drama (set in 1960) in which Marlon Brando plays the ugly American of the title, as Ambassador MacWhite to Sarkhan - a fictional country that could pass for any one of a number of real Asian nations.
It's been 15 years since MacWhite was last in Sarkhan, and his old friend Deong (Eiji Okada) was and is an influential figure. But now, to MacWhite's bitter disappointment, Deong seems to have shifted his political stance and resents what he sees as America's imperialist moves. MacWhite sees things differently; he sees America helping to keep Communism out of Sarkhan ... The themes of American foreign policy in Asia are crucial to the plot, but since the film is meant to be mass entertainment, the detail is less than comprehensive and the result is a political thriller in an exotic setting. And with honourable intent. It's relevance is ongoing.
Brando is excellent, as is Okada (notwithstanding his Japanese ethnicity) as the two old friends find themselves on opposing political sides - both right, both wrong. Also notable is Sandra Church as Mrs MacWhite, and the entire supporting cast.
Published May 14, 2009
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UGLY AMERICAN, THE: DVD (G)
CAST: Marlon Brando, Sandra Church, Eiji Okada, Pat Hingle, Arthur Hill, Kukrit Pamoj, Reiko Sato
PRODUCER: George Englund
DIRECTOR: George Englund
SCRIPT: Stewart Stern (novel by William J. Lederer, Eugene Burdick)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Clifford Stine
EDITOR: Ted J. Kent
MUSIC: Frank Skinner
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alexander Golitzen, Alfred Sweeney
RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes
PRESENTATION: 4:3 (1.33:1 standard); DD mono
SPECIAL FEATURES: trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella
DVD RELEASE: December 12, 2008
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.