Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Graham Greene: novel, film, novel


The Quite American 2002 directed by Phillip Noyce

Having already read the film reviews when it came out and sensing Michael Caine couldn't be right for the part - though he got praise - the film (BBC2 27 Dec 05) worked despite those, sweaty-lidded, puffy, glass-wearer's eyes. You think pretty hard to imagine an actor who might have done Fowler better.

I think what I did was combine the film with what I remembered of the book, while watching the film, making the film better than it actually was. Though it wasn't bad. Here is the perennial debate about the book and the film. Have you ever concluded a film was better than the book it came from?

Having slept on it: a strong desire to see what others thought of the film (and the book) in preparation for the re-read. Came across Greeneland: The World of Graham Greene, and a September 2004 Guardian piece by Zadie Smith celebrating Greene's centenary, with special reference to TQA. The argument: "The Quiet American, his love story set in the chaos of 1950s Vietnam, shows him to be the greatest journalist there ever was".

Greene is at now at the top of my list in the category of modern novelist who put himself and his life into his books. His anti-Americanism is topical but different from Pinter's. If my memory of his life history serves me well he visited the U.S. quite a lot despite his views.

Other articles:

A haunting portrait of US-backed terror in 1950s Vietnam

By Richard Phillips, 17 December 2002
Despite coming from World Socialist Website, published by the International Committee of the Fourth International... I can see Trotsky in my minds eye now, scribbling speeches to the last in his hidy-hole in Mexico, in between tending cacti, depicted by Richard Burton in "The Assassination of Trotsky", with Alain Delon as assassin behaving in what can only be described as as squirmingly awful fashion to illustrate guilt or something. All redemed by the presence of late Romy Schneider.... this does the film (and how it was not distributed in the light of 9/11) and the book and the previous version of the film (1958) by Mankiewicz, with Michael Redgrave as Fowler, which Greene condemned as propoganda.

Click2Flicks does a potted history of the Vietnam conflict covering the period of the film

Other articles on the film and the book and the background :

(1)
By the Bombs' Early Light; Or, The Quiet American's War on Terror by H. Bruce Franklin
published in The Nation, 3 February 2003

(2) In Our Time No Man Is a Neutral by Graham Gorham Davis, NYT, 11 March 1956

(3)
Graham Greene's Vietnam by Tom Curry

(4)
Willful Blindness by Cynthia Fuchs in popmatters.com (film review with extras)

(5) The Quiet American reviewed at BrothersJudd.com
Saw there was a weblog, so checked. Came across this on the truth behind "Boston", Upton Sinclair's depiction of
Sacco and Vanzetti. Saw the film on TV and remember feeling sorry for the two "victims" of injustice..

Budd Parr has done some book-film discussion. Unfortunately, it is mostly about books I've never heard of!



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