You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Ugly American

Some of the ambiguities, hypocrisies and perplexities of cold war politics are observed, dramatized and, to a degree, analyzed in The Ugly American. It is a thought-provoking but uneven screen translation taken from, but not in a literal sense based upon, the popular novel by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick.

Cast:
Marlon Brando Eiji Okada Sandra Church Arthur Hill Pat Hingle Jocelyn Brando

Some of the ambiguities, hypocrisies and perplexities of cold war politics are observed, dramatized and, to a degree, analyzed in The Ugly American. It is a thought-provoking but uneven screen translation taken from, but not in a literal sense based upon, the popular novel by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick.

Focal figure of the story is an American ambassador (Marlon Brando) to a Southeast Asian nation who, after jumping to conclusions in the course of dealing with an uprising of the natives of that country against the existing regime and what they interpret as Yankee imperialism comes to understand that there is more to modern political revolution than meets the casual or jaundiced bystander’s eye. As a result of his experience, he senses that Americans ‘can’t hope to win the cold war unless we remember what we’re for as well as what we’re against’.

Although skillfully and often explosively directed by George Englund and well played by Brando and others in the cast, the film tends to be overly talkative and lethargic in certain areas, vague and confusing in others. Probably the most jarring single flaw is the failure to clarify the exact nature of events during the ultimate upheaval.

Brando’s performance is a towering one; restrained, intelligent and always masculine. Japanese actor Eiji Okada of Hiroshima, mon amour renown, makes a strong impression.

Mass riot scene near the outset of the picture is frighteningly realistic. Art direction is outstanding, with a convincing replica of a Southeast Asian village on the Universal backlot.

The Ugly American

Production: Universal. Director George Englund; Producer George Englund; Screenplay Stewart Stern; Camera Clifford Stine; Editor Ted J. Kent; Music Frank Skinner; Art Director Alexander Golitzen, Alfred Sweeney

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1963. Running time: 120 MIN.

With: Marlon Brando Eiji Okada Sandra Church Arthur Hill Pat Hingle Jocelyn Brando

More Film

  • Sarah Jones

    ICG President Steven Poster Pushes On-Set Safety, Slams Government’s Anti-Union Stance

    Some of the ambiguities, hypocrisies and perplexities of cold war politics are observed, dramatized and, to a degree, analyzed in The Ugly American. It is a thought-provoking but uneven screen translation taken from, but not in a literal sense based upon, the popular novel by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick. Focal figure of the […]

  • Isle of Dogs

    Production Designer Adam Stockhausen on Building Wes Anderson's Worlds

    Some of the ambiguities, hypocrisies and perplexities of cold war politics are observed, dramatized and, to a degree, analyzed in The Ugly American. It is a thought-provoking but uneven screen translation taken from, but not in a literal sense based upon, the popular novel by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick. Focal figure of the […]

  • On Body and Soul Hungarian Movie

    Hungary's 'On Body and Soul' Wins Top Award at Camerimage Film Festival

    Some of the ambiguities, hypocrisies and perplexities of cold war politics are observed, dramatized and, to a degree, analyzed in The Ugly American. It is a thought-provoking but uneven screen translation taken from, but not in a literal sense based upon, the popular novel by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick. Focal figure of the […]

  • 'Incredibles 2' Gets First Teaser Trailer

    'Incredibles 2' Gets First Teaser Trailer From Disney-Pixar

    Some of the ambiguities, hypocrisies and perplexities of cold war politics are observed, dramatized and, to a degree, analyzed in The Ugly American. It is a thought-provoking but uneven screen translation taken from, but not in a literal sense based upon, the popular novel by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick. Focal figure of the […]

  • John Bailey Academy President

    Academy President John Bailey on Extending Oscars' Global Reach

    Some of the ambiguities, hypocrisies and perplexities of cold war politics are observed, dramatized and, to a degree, analyzed in The Ugly American. It is a thought-provoking but uneven screen translation taken from, but not in a literal sense based upon, the popular novel by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick. Focal figure of the […]

  • get out Oscar Race

    'Get Out' Awards Category Dilemma: Film Defies Easy Labels, Cast Says

    Some of the ambiguities, hypocrisies and perplexities of cold war politics are observed, dramatized and, to a degree, analyzed in The Ugly American. It is a thought-provoking but uneven screen translation taken from, but not in a literal sense based upon, the popular novel by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick. Focal figure of the […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content