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The American
updated 7.4.2001

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Movie balderdash. The American was badly acted. Wearing an enormous riding coat in almost every scene does not transform the actor into a believable character. Do you really think that an outsider like the American could force his way into an aristocratic family's business? Come on! He wouldn't get past the front gate. In the end he blackmails the old gal, with some stuff of little consequence, to get his way. Is this supposed to be an admirable "American" way of doing things? Please spare us from any more of this drivel. I object that my contributions go to such feeble stuff.

Ewan Fallon
Seattle, WA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Having been an American abroad for a period, and as a Henry James fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation. James so aptly describes -- well presented in the film -- the dilemma of the difference of culture and especially, how Americans assume their decent, loving approach is correct and will carry the day.

Looking forward with anticipation to James's Golden Bowl. As is your wont, do it well.

Mike Hofgren
Gainesville, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I can only shake my head in total disbelief at what you are calling Henry James' The American - you should have called it Sidney Sheldon's The American. What is a fine story of character, customs and culture was turned into nothing more than a pretty soap opera. I understand the term "artistic license," but this was simply an awkward, base and incorrect adaptation of the novel. You turned Newman into an immature, rude brute and Valentine into a sniveling baby. Did your people read the book? I am a big fan, usually, but find the fabrications sometime hard to swallow - not to mention the bedroom scenes that seem to have become standard additions to any new production of past works. What a disappointment! You missed a big opportunity here. If there is anyone out there that hasn't read the book (besides the screenwriters) please do so - for the real American.

Leigh Morris
Lenexa, KS

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I watched The American from beginning to the end with trepidation. As I feared, it was not the James novel I read. To my eye, the producers and directors contrived bits to enhance its viewability in the 21st century. There were moments I felt the scene would have been more logical at a NYC cocktail party in 2001. Much of James reads better than it plays, so I should have come to it prepared. I shant quibble with the casting director, although I would like to.

Don Slagel

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