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The Ugly AmericanUSA 1963
Directed by George Englund
Running time 115 minutes
Although a minor entry on Brando’s C.V, and weighed down by unremarkable direction (the opening stunt is almost enough to bury the film) and generally suffering from the technically-dated look that characterises films of the time, particularly those set in foreign locations, The Ugly American is of interest as a remarkably accurate critique of American foreign policy. With its broad message about the betrayal of America's own constitutional values, born out of a desire for independence, of political expediency and unreflective adherence to a militaristic ideology one might be dismayed that the American executive system has learnt so little since then but as the last scene of the film with its succinct indictment of grassroots self0interest complacency indicates, this would be a naïve thought.
Whilst apparently it toned down the criticism of American foreign policy found in Burdick's novel The Ugly American was presumably nevertheless a relatively provocative movie for its day (the disaster that was Vietnam was but a rumble on the horizon) and one which deserves to be better recognized for that.
FYI: Kukrit Pramoj, who plays the premier of Sarkhan and served as the film's technical consultant, later went on to become Thailand's real-life premier.
DVD Extras: Original theatrical trailer.
Available from: Umbrella Entertainment