Director-producer George Englund has died at age 91. The only half-decent film he directed was The Ugly American (’63), which starred Marlon Brando as a naive and somewhat arrogant Ambassador to “Sarkhan” (Thailand crossed with South Vietnam) during a politically tumultuous period. It costarred Eiji Okada, the good-looking guy who played Emmanuelle Riva‘s lover in Hiroshima mon amour and also costarred in Woman in the Dunes.
The Ugly American, which had almost nothing to do plot-wise with Eugene Burdick and William Lederer’s 1958 best-seller, is not a great film but a reasonably good one, and it foresaw, of course, the misguided U.S. policies toward resentful Vietnamese patriots that would lead to so much horror and death for so many years.
Englund’s well-written book about Brando, “The Way It’s Never Been Done Before,” was published 13 years ago. It mentions a late-night soiree Englund shared with Brando in 1955, and which concluded with the two of them shooting the shit in a Santa Monica parking lot. Their conversation was interrupted by a cop, who wanted to know if they were up to something randy: