The Ugly American

  • 1963
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama, War

An obviously sincere but nonetheless simplistic critique of American foreign policy in Southeast Asia, THE UGLY AMERICAN quickly squanders whatever interest it may hold due to its didactic script and dull direction. Set in the fictional Asian nation of Sarkhan, the film follows American ambassador Harrison Carter MacWhite (a somewhat silly-looking Marlon...read more

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An obviously sincere but nonetheless simplistic critique of American foreign policy in Southeast Asia, THE UGLY AMERICAN quickly squanders whatever interest it may hold due to its didactic script and dull direction. Set in the fictional Asian nation of Sarkhan, the film follows American

ambassador Harrison Carter MacWhite (a somewhat silly-looking Marlon Brando, sporting the thinnest of mustaches), a powerful newspaper publisher who is sent to Sarkhan to oversee the construction of the "Freedom Road," an international highway financed by the US. Sarkhan, however, is engulfed in

civil war, and construction of the road is constantly threatened by communist rebels. MacWhite, who has trouble understanding the aims of the communists, is shocked to discover that his former comrade-in-arms, Deong (Eiji Okada), is now the leader of the rebels. Through his association with Deong,

MacWhite becomes aware of the reality of "Yankee imperialism" and begins to realize that the US "can't hope to win the Cold War unless we remember what we're for as well as what we're against." Although well-intentioned, THE UGLY AMERICAN simply isn't a very good film. Part of the problem is that

producer-director George Englund, a friend of star Brando, isn't much of a director, and as a result the film is static and ponderous. Brando once again turns in an interesting performance, but as demonstrated in many of his films of this period, one good performance does not a good film make.

Brando's costar, Japanese actor Eiji Okada, is best known for his performance in Alain Resnais' HIROSHIMA, MON AMOUR (1959).

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: An obviously sincere but nonetheless simplistic critique of American foreign policy in Southeast Asia, THE UGLY AMERICAN quickly squanders whatever interest it may hold due to its didactic script and dull direction. Set in the fictional Asian nation of Sar… (more)

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