"The Ugly American" - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

We are back in our Music Room today - talking about a movie advertised with a black-and-white poster on display in our seated section of the tour:  The Ugly American.  Today, few people are familiar with this movie - let alone the book that inspired it.  The political novel was first published in 1958, at a time when the United States and the Soviet Union (now Russia, to any young readers out there) were in the deepest depths of the Cold War.  It tells the story of American politicians unable or unwilling to adapt to the social customs and languages of people in foreign countries in the effort to develop strong national ties, in sharp contrast to the efforts of  superior Communist diplomats.

The book created a sensation in the United States, a wake-up call to the importance of foreign relations.  Then-Congressman John F. Kennedy gave copies of the book to his compatriots in the Senate to create awareness.  It would go on to become one of the greatest bestsellers ever, and remains in print to this day.  It also inspired the phrase "ugly American" to describe visitors to another country who disrespect the native culture and tend to treat locals not as equals but as inferiors.  When Kennedy became president, it is argued that the book helped to inspire his establishment of the Peace Corps.

The film, The Ugly American was produced five years later, with Marlon Brando starring as Ambassador Harrison Carter MacWhite, the insensitive anti-hero of the title.  Although the film received overall positive critical reviews, it did not do very well in theaters, and was nominated for no substantial awards.  For filming in Bangkok, Thailand, the native politician and scholar Kukrit Pramoj was hired on as a consultant.  He went on to a distinguished career as Prime Minister of Thailand.

QUESTION:  Jocelyn Brando starred as Emma Atkins in The Ugly American.  What was her relation to Marlon Brando?
A)  There was no relation
B)  His wife
C)  His daughter
D)  His sister

2,505TH STAR!  Turning 55 today is television and film actor Jane Lynch.  Best known for her role as Sue Sylvester in the long-running tv program Glee!, as well as the Christopher Guest mockumentaries Best In Show (2000) and A Mighty Wind (2003), Lynch has been out there for years.  Now, it's her time to shine - especially since she received the 2,505th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  (The most-recent addition:  Paul Rudd!)

QUOTE:  When I was younger, I actually wanted to be in the spotlight.  To have people want me, want to have a piece of me. - Jane Lynch

ANSWER:  D)  His sister.  Jocelyn was five years older than Marlon, and debuted in film three years after her little brother.  The only other film she was cast in with Marlon was 1965's The Chase.