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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Quiet American (Blu-ray)
The Quiet American (Blu-ray)
Twilight Time // Unrated // June 13, 2017 // Region Free
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at ]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted October 8, 2017 | E-mail the Author
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The Quiet American Twilight Time Blu-ray Review The Quiet American (1958) is based on the acclaimed novel by Graham Greene. Produced by Vinh Noan, Michal Waszynski, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz, The Quiet American was a novel known for its political aspects. However, the film version bears little resemblance to the book. This adaptation is less about politics and more of a romantic drama with some political elements tossed in.

Taking place in 1952 (and occurring in Vietnam) the plot revolves around a young American Texas-born man (Audie Murphy), working for an aid organization, who is being torn between two very different sides: one of communists and one of colonialists. The young man tries to help the Vietnamese people while staying in Vietnam and is tossed into a difficult situation he isn't so ready for.

Along the journey of the story, the American becomes romantically involved with the Vietnamese woman Phuong (Giorgia Moll). He also becomes politically involved with Thomas Fowler (Michael Redgrave).  Fowler works for a newspaper publication. The two begin to debate their political beliefs.

It isn't that long before Phuong becomes torn between the two different men: debating about and trying to decide who she should be with. This is the central aspect of the film: who will end up being with Phuong? Will it be the American or the newspaper writer? As the romantic triangle unfolds, so does the turmoil in Vietnam (which is unfortunately more of a backdrop to the film).

Unlike the book, which is well known for being highly political, The Quiet American is a dull film which barely gets into politics at all. The film was made around the same time as the blacklist was an issue in Hollywood. This may have impacted it's dull adaptation. It's an incredibly underwhelming film which mainly feels like a TV episode focused on a romantic triangle. This certainly disappoints. It's casting doesn't help either. Italian Giorgia Moll plays a Vietnamese woman and it simply doesn't work.
 
The cinematography by Robert Krasker (The Third Man, Brief Encounter) is acceptable but underwhelming. There is some striking imagery during certain scenes (including the very beginning of the film during a festival) but the overall look of the film feels unimpressive. The music score by Mario Nascimbene (The Vikings, The Barefoot Contessa) doesn't make much of an impression either and fails to add much dramatic weight to the story.

The screenplay and direction by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Guys and Dolls, Cleopatra, All About Eve) are easily the biggest problems with the film though. Despite Mankiewicz's career having many monumental film achievements, The Quiet American most certainly wasn't amongst them. The film lacks a great story (despite the acclaim of the source book) and meanders about without much of interest happening. The direction feels almost aimless for much of the runtime. The film could have used better editing. The Quiet American is perhaps aptly titled: it's a quiet American drama which doesn't delve into politics much and squanders it's storytelling possibilities with a boring romance that feels dated. Rather than excitement and intrigue, the film falls flat with thunderous silence.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

The Quiet American arrives on Blu-ray from Twilight Time with a weak 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded high definition presentation. The film is presented in the original 1.66:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio with black and white cinematography.

Unfortunately, this is a dated, disappointing master with far too many soft sequences. The film appears less crisp than it should and it lacks great clarity or depth. The presentation is mostly mediocre with too much dirt on the print (though it is intermittent) and poor black levels. It barely passes as a decent HD upgrade.

Audio:   

The English 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mono audio presentation preserves the original sound design of the film. The audio fares somewhat better than the video presentation but is still an underwhelming experience. Dialogue is not quite as crisp sounding as with a great effort on restoration and the mono audio sounds decidedly thin.

An optional Isolated Music Track (w/ some sound effects present) is included. English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are provided.


Extras:

This release includes a booklet featuring an essay on the film written by Twilight Time writer Julie Kirgo.

On disc supplements include the following:

Original Theatrical Trailer

Final Thoughts:

The Quiet American is uninteresting, boring, and lackluster. It fails to tell a great story. The film meanders for far too long and spends too much of its run-time focused on a ridiculous love-triangle storyline that feels irrelevant to the main ideas of the story. It's an unfortunate misfire that is more likely to cause audiences to fall asleep from boredom than it is to entertain. Twilight Time's Blu-ray release is also decidedly mediocre with a mundane presentation and almost non-existent extras. An easy pass.

Skip It.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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