The Quiet American

The Quiet American Film Adaptation of The Quiet American (1958)

The Quiet American was first adapted for film in 1958, just three years after Greene's novel was published. The film was written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and stars Audie Murphy, Michael Redgrave, and Giorgia Moll. It was the first time that a major Hollywood film had dealt with the geopolitical landscape of French Indochina, where the conflict was still far from resolution. Critically, The Quiet American (1958) did well, but it did not succeed at the box office.

The film did not follow the plot of Greene's novel - Mankiewicz removed the anti-American aspects of the story and focused more on the love triangle between Fowler, Pyle, and Phuong. Mankiewicz's Pyle is a private citizen instead of a representative of the American government; he is not actually involved in the square bombing, either. The decision to dilute the controversial portions of the novel was likely due to the residual effects of blacklisting, which was when HUAC (The House Un-American Activities Committee) weeded out suspected communists from Hollywood and prevented them from getting further work. Nevertheless, Greene was furious about the adaptation and publicly derided it as "propaganda for America." In response to Greene's comments, many of the film's American cast and crew, including star Audie Murphy, openly stated that they would have never worked on the film had the script maintained Greene's anti-American rhetoric.