Tag Archives: Michael Redgrave

The CIA and Hollywood episode 8 The Quiet American

In this first episode of the new season Pearse and I discuss the 1958 spy drama The Quiet American, adapted from the novel by Graham Greene.  We focus in on the role of Air Force and CIA officer Ed Lansdale’s relationship with the film-maker Joseph Mankiewicz, and how the CIA were involved in assisting Mankiewicz the first major American movie to be filmed in Vietnam.  Mankiewicz met Lansdale in Vietnam while doing research for the movie and, apparently unaware that Lansdale is one of the inspirations for the Pyle character in the original book, befriended him.  Lansdale later reviewed the script and wrote to Mankiewicz encouraging the changes he had made to the storyline and characters.

Another angle is Graham Greene’s transition from an MI6 agent in World War 2 to an anti-establishment author who was spied by the FBI for supposed Communist affiliations.  We look at how his original novel of The Quiet American was an excellent critique of post-WW2 American imperialism, secret warfare and so-called ‘humanitarian interventions’, which was butchered in the Hollywood version.  In particular the character of Pyle is turned from a bookish, virginal ‘war nerd’ into the charming all-American version played by real-life war hero Audie Murphy.  Likewise, while the original book has Fowler’s worst suspicions about Pyle being proven right (Pyle is sponsoring terrorism), the film changes this so Fowler is fooled by the Communists into betraying Pyle.

We round off this episode by briefly discussing the far superior (and not state-sponsored) 2002 film version directed by Philip Noyce and starring Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser.  This version is not only better written, acted and directed but is also, crucially, a faithful adaptation of the original book.

Download The CIA and Hollywood ep 8

Vimeo Version

 

Show Notes:

The Quiet American (book)

The Quiet American (1958 film)

The Quiet American (2002 film)

Edward Lansdale’s Cold War by Jonathan Nashel

Lansdale’s letter to Mankiewicz

Edward Lansdale

Operation Northwoods document collection

Graham Greene’s FBI File

The Dangerous Edge – Graham Greene documentary

Michael Redgrave MI5 file

The CIA and Hollywood episode 1 George Orwell

In this opening episode of the new series Pearse and Tom look into the CIA’s adaptations of George Orwell’s two most famous novels – Animal Farm and 1984.  We focus primarily on Animal Farm, a revolutionary animated film in several senses of the word, produced by Louis De Rochemont – a man who had worked with several other government agencies prior to making Animal Farm with the CIA.  The animation was does by British firm Halas and Bachelor, and we also discuss their background.  This episode also examines the paper trail, looking in Orwell’s FBI file and the MI5 records on actor Michael Redgrave, who starred in 1984 despite being a suspected Communist.  We conclude that the CIA had something of an obsession with Orwell at this time, and were subverting his works quite radically in these films.

Download The CIA and Hollywood ep. 1

Show Notes:

Animal Farm (1954 film)

1984 (1956 film)

Halas and Batchelor

Animal Farm Making Of

Animal Farm film production documents

The cartoon that came in from the cold

CIA documents on George Orwell’s books

FBI file on George Orwell

George Orwell MI5 and Special Branch files

Orwell’s List

MI5 file on Michael Redgrave

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