by Judith Vecchione

[Judith Vecchione was a producer for Vietnam: A Television History in 1982]

I remember the interview with Mme Nhu vividly. She lived way outside of Rome, in a huge old house, hard to find, isolated. We drove through an ornate metal gate, up a long drive, and were finally admitted — but only to the greenhouse attached to the house, not into the house itself. We were told, with no explanation, that this was where we could film. The room was dim and it was hard to get the lighting right. But the sound problem was worse: it was a cold, wet day, and the sound of rain hitting the greenhouse roof made it sound, for a while, as if we were under a waterfall.

We finally got set and she came in, dressed in her trademark ao dai tunic, cut tight and low, with a glittering cross around her neck. She was tiny, delicate, and completely in control. She wanted to lecture us, not to be interviewed. It took a lot of discussion to persuade her, but finally, just as I was starting my questions, she got up and left. Again, no one explained, so we just sat there. After a while, Mme Nhu returned, wrapped in a beautiful mink stole against the cold. And the interview began.

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