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Quiet American evokes eloquent Vietnam applause

Hanoi, Dec. 2 (Reuters): The Quiet American, a movie that was almost not released in the United States, is warmly welcomed by Communist Vietnam, which praises it as an accurate portrayal of early American involvement in Indochina.

The Southeast Asian country has not been as happy about other Hollywood flicks, condemning the portrayal of the Vietnam War in Mel Gibson’s We Were Soldiers and particularly the role played by Vietnamese actor Don Duong, who has been branded a traitor.

But the Phillip Noyce adaptation of Graham Greene’s 1955 book that was partly shot in Vietnam and stars Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser has been given the green light.

“Senior leaders of the culture and information ministry have watched the film and agreed for it to be shown widely in Vietnam,” Nguyen Van Tinh, deputy director of the international relations department of the culture and information ministry was quoted as saying in today’s Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper.

Noyce, whose credits include The Bone Collector, Patriot Games and The Saint, is set to arrive in Vietnam on December 16 for the local premier of the movie, the newspaper said.

The film is set in the early 1950s and depicts a country wracked by war as a collapsing French colonial rule gives way to increasing US involvement on what was seen as a front line against communism.

The first film fudged the ending to make it acceptable to American audiences, while the remake is more faithful to the book.

Caine's performance as jaded British war correspondent Fowler is deemed Oscar-worthy, while Fraser plays idealistic CIA agent Alden Pyle.

They form a doomed love triangle with a Vietnamese girl, Phuong, played by local newcomer Hai Yen.

An expatriate Hanoi-based film maker said he was not surprised with the government decision.

“It’s sympathetic to Vietnam. It shows the (foreign) subversion that was going on.”

The movie, made by Miramax, was held back from release after the September 11 attacks on the United States.

The studio was concerned that audiences would be turned off by the scenes of exploding cars and the message about American meddling abroad.

Caine embarked on a crusade to push the movie out. It was released in a few large US cities last week, in time for the Oscar race.

The movie would be subtitled in Vietnamese, a first for a foreign film as most use voice-overs. It is also the first major Hollywood film to be shot in Vietnam.

In 1997, authorities withdrew permission to make segments of the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies in Vietnam, deeming it anti-Communist.

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