Alternate History

Saigon (film) (Napoleon's World)

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Saigon is a 1963 American film starring Grant Kerouac, George Robert, Melvin Carlyle, Anna Lewis, Julia Nguyen, Douglas Trinh, and George Takei. The film also featured a young Kim Jong in one of his first roles. Set in the 1930's during the American occupation of Saigon, the film was a spectacle modelled after 1939's Fall of the Romanovs and other Hollywood "foreign epics," focusing on the splendor of the Orient. The film revolves around a complicated love story between a married, Roman-Catholic American military officer (Kerouac) and the daughter (Nguyen) of a Vietnamese nobleman. The film featured themes of colonialism, Orientalism, racism, Catholicism and modernization, and had a run-time of nearly four hours, featuring an intermission.

Coming hard on the heels of the success of Oahu, Saigon was the second "epic" film that featured the involvement of one of the "America's Favorite Gentlemen" in as many years and was also one of many significant films in the early 1960's to feature, for the first time, Asian actors in prominent roles. Filmed in Vietnam and Thailand, the film was an expensive and ardous undertaking but was a massive critical and commercial success, winning numerous awards (including Best Picture and Best Actor for Kerouac and Best Actress for Nguyen, making her the first Asian-American actor or actress to win). Unlike Oahu, which was released with considerable controversy over its violence and was censored in many places, Saigon was universally praised as a modern epic and went uncensored in every state.

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