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:: The Quiet American

“The Quiet American” takes place in Vietnam during 1951-52. The central character is aging British journalist Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine), who is covering the French Indo-China War (1946-54) for a London newspaper. He lives in Saigon and likes his life there, particularly because living with him is his beautiful young Vietnamese mistress Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen). Fowler’s well being is threatened when he meets Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser), a young American who comes to Vietnam under the auspices of some sort of economic aid program. Pyle, a bachelor, is immediately smitten with Phuong and wants to marry her. This creates a major difficulty for Fowler because he is estranged from a wife back in England who won’t give him a divorce.

The political situation is tense, however, and that occupies Fowler’s mind. The war he is covering pits the French, who want to keep Vietnam as a colony, against Vietnamese nationalists, who are fighting for the country’s independence. But the nationalists are also mostly Communists, and the United States gets caught up in the conflict as part of its policy of opposing Communism anywhere in the world. Eventually, Fowler comes to a fateful decision about Pyle that is both political and personal.

The first big DVD feature is a commentary from director Philip Noyce, executive producer Sydney Pollack, stars Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser, and others. Despite such a large cast of people, and despite them all being recorded separately, the commentary flows smoothly and provides lots of information. The DVD also contains a five-minute promotional piece, a timeline of Vietnam's history, and trailers for some other Miramax movies. Finally, in an interesting touch, we get three vintage reviews of Graham Greene's novel in text form.

The film was shot on location in Vietnam. In particular, the movie’s climactic scenes, where terrorist bombs are exploded in central Saigon, were filmed at the exact location where the historical event took place. For me, this helped to make the film come alive. And there is also Michael Caine’s superb performance.

DVD Extras

Selected Special Features on the DVD:
* Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
* English Captions for the Hearing Impaired
* Audio Commentary With Director, Caine, Fraser, and 6 Others
* Anatomy of a Scene (Sundance Channel)
* Original Featurette
* Vietnam Timeline
* Original Reviews of Graham Greene’s Novel
* DVD-ROM Features: Vietnam Study Guide
* Miramax Sneak Peeks