Next Book Revue: The Quiet American
Graham Greene novel focus of July 26 books and film session
For July's Book Revue: The Quiet American
Book Revuers have spoken.
Your voting produced a tie between Graham Greene's The Quiet American and Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca. We've gone with Graham Greene because a 35mm print of the widely praised 2002 adaptation of the novel is readily available.
The choice of books was offered by guest host Phil Marchand.
The movie stars Michael Caine as a seasoned and cynical British foreign correspondent observing the covert machinations of a young American in Saigon while the French army in Indo China is grappling with the Vietminh. (The film gets an 87 per cent positive rating from top critics on the Rotten Tomato site.)
For links to book reviews in 1955 and 2002, click here.
As Fowler, Caine's character, observes of the American's modus operandi, "I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused."
So no escapes, folks, into Gothic romance or Austen country for now. (We must admit surprise that Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility didn't make the cut, garnering only half the votes of each of the top two titles.) We're heading into a serious and prescient look at imperialism, politics, and the American practice of justifying intervention with boy-scout high mindedness.
Interestingly, Greene's novel was published in 1955. As Phil Marchand pointed out at June's Remains of the Day session, that book's main character Stevens, the butler, takes his trip in 1956 at the time of the Suez crisis, which marked the end of British imperial power and a shift of influence into American hands. His former employer, Lord Darlington, a disgraced British aristocrat, had died and an American had moved into Darlington Hall, a symbol of the changing world order.
This second film adaptation of the book was released in 2002, after the 2001 destruction of the Twin Towers and start of the war in Afghanistan (called Operation Enduring Freedom), and before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The focus of Graham Greene's novel would seem to be as relevant as ever.
Below were the choices everyone voted on.
Your choices are:
- Billy Budd, Herman Melville
Adapted in 1962. Produced, directed and co-written by Peter Ustinov. Starring Terence Stamp, as Billy Budd, Robert Ryan and Ustinov.
- The Quiet American, Graham Greene
Adapted in 2002. Directed by Phillip Noyce. Starring Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser and Do Thi Hai Yen. Recommended pre Book Revue viewing would be the 1958 adaptation, directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, starring Audie Murphy and Michael Redgrave.
- Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier
Adapted in 1940. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine and George Sanders. Won Oscars for best picture and best cinematography. Nominated for nine other Oscars.
- Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
Adapted in 1995. Directed by Ang Lee. Screenplay by Emma Thompson. Starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Gemma Jones.
- Turn of the Screw, Henry James
Adapted as The Innocents in 1961. Directed by Jack Clayton. Starring Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde and Megs Jenkins.
Mark down Tuesday, July 26, 6:45 for this special installment of The Book Revue and don't forget to visit our Facebook page to vote for your selection!
About Phil Marchand
From 1989 to 2008, Phil Marchand was the book reviewer for the Toronto Star. He retired in 2008, and now writes a weekly book column for the National Post. He has, since the publication of his first freelance magazine article in 1971, written for every major general interest publication in Canada. He has also been a radio, television and movie critic.
Among the books he has written are Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America, an exploration of the French legacy on this continent and his own heritage. He has also written a detective novel, commentaries on Canadian literature and lifestyles, and an acclaimed biography, Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger.