An intelligent, articulate scholar, Harrison MacWhite, survives a hostile Senate confirmation hearing at the hands of conservatives to become ambassador to Sarkan, a southeast Asian country... See full summary »
An intelligent, articulate scholar, Harrison MacWhite, survives a hostile Senate confirmation hearing at the hands of conservatives to become ambassador to Sarkan, a southeast Asian country where civil war threatens a tense peace. Despite his knowledge, once he's there, MacWhite sees only a dichotomy between the U.S. and Communism. He can't accept that anti-American sentiment might be a longing for self-determination and nationalism. So, he breaks from his friend Deong, a local opposition leader, ignores a foreman's advice about slowing the building of a road, and tries to muscle ahead. What price must the country and his friends pay for him to get some sense? Written by
Naiveté and simplicity are not the hallmarks of this wonderful cinematic masterpiece, as other commentators would have you believe. Instead, this film presents a 40 year old allegory of everything that America is doing wrong today. One becomes 'gelé' as each morsel of film unrolls and presents us with chilling portents of what is to become of American foreign policy, today, in the 21st century.
I find it almost disturbing that the authors and screen-writers knew -- in 1963 -- that the United States would deteriorate into the war-mongering world-wide dictatorship that it has now become. Every single element portrayed in "The Ugly American" -- from the U.S. military/industrial complex to the quest for phoney 'freedom', to the self-righteous White pitying of the starving and wretched Coloreds, to the supposed fight for 'democracy' -- has become the cause celebré of the red-state revolution, the Republican manifesto.
God help us.
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