Michael Redgrave is a cynical British journalist posted in 1952 Saigon, happily far awayfrom his estranged wife. He views both sides of the French and Communist war with equalindifference, and likes the comfortable arrangement he has with his Vietnamese girlfriend(Giorgia Moll), a woman whose intelligence he hardly seems to respect. Everything goes tosmash for him when a polite young American (Audie Murphy) shows up. Redgrave finds hisidealism suspicious, if not actively da…gerous, but he is particularly incensed with Murphy andMoll fall in love, and a desperate man might well do anything in those circumstances.
Graham Greene repudiated this adaptation of his novel, since Redgrave’s character was nowa Communist dupe, and Murphy really IS the force for good he appears to be. The more recentversion (with Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser) is much more faithful in this regard, and sticksto the critique of American foreign policy adventurism. But setting aside the switch in politicsthat so upset Greene (and rightfully so), this is a terrific film. Playing out like a bitter version ofCasablanca, bathed in noir atmosphere, it boasts wonderful work from Redgrave, castsMurphy convincingly, and its script shines with all the caustic wit one expects fromwriter/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve).
The audio track is in the original mono. The music sometimes sounds a bit thin, and thereis a bit of sibilance now and then on the dialogue. Still, everything comes through clearly enough,and this is a film from 1958.
The aspect ratio is 1.66:1 non-anamorphic, and the black-and-white looks great (the blacks,especially, are astounding). There is a bit of grain, more in some shots than others, but most ofthe film has no visible grain at all. A more consistent flaw is some flicker, which varies inseverity from barely noticeable to outright irritating.
Worthy of rediscovery, and essential viewing in tandem with the newer version. Fascinatingto see how the same plot and incidents can take off in very divergent political directions.