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You will never find a more chillingly suspenseful, perversely funny, or viciously satirical political thriller than The Manchurian Candidate, based on the novel by Richard Condon (author of Winter Kills). The film, withheld from distribution by star Frank Sinatra for almost a quarter century after President Kennedy's assassination, has lost none of its potency over time. Former infantryman Bennet Marco (Sinatra) is haunted by nightmares about his platoon having been captured and brainwashed in Korea. The indecipherable dreams seem to center on Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), a decorated war hero but a cold fish of a man whose own mother (Angela Lansbury, in one of the all-time great dragon-lady roles) describes him as looking like his head is "always about to come to a point." Mrs. Bates has nothing on Lansbury's character, the manipulative queen behind her second husband, Senator John Iselin (James Gregory), a notoriously McCarthyesque demagogue. --Jim Emerson
- GREAT POLITICAL THRILLER
One year after "The Manchurian Candidate", John Frankenheimer was back at it with "Seven Days in May", screenwritten by "Twi-Light Zone" creator Rod Serling. Serling's "Zone's" were a masterpiece of semi-liberal social conscience. Frankenheimer seized on another 1950s novel based on the real events of 1934, in which Republican industrialists recruited Marine hero Smedley Butler to orchestrate a coup d'etat against FDR. The novel and Frankenheimer's film fictionalize the event. It was, again, one of the best movies ever made, but completely liberal. Frankly, I have to ask why in 1963 the decision was made to examine a political conspiracy from 1934 when the worst political crime in U.S. history, the stealing of the 1960 election by Kennedy over Nixon, had occurred just three years prior. The answer to that question, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.
After JFK's assassination, "The Manchurian Candidate" was pulled because it hit too close to home, but in June, 1968 RFK was staying at Frankenheimer's Malibu home the night of the California Primary. He was tired and wanted to stay there. The enthusiasm of his victory that night convinced him to make the long drive on a twisting, turning Pacific Coast Highway, up the Santa Monica Freeway to downtown Los Angeles, where Sirhan Sirhan was waiting for him with a gun at the Ambassador Hotel.
Kirk Douglas is the Butler character In "Seven Days In May", an upright Marine whose politics are explained early by a fellow officer who says to him, "I though you'd be an ACLU lawyer by now, protecting the great unwashed." Douglas describes this officer as the kind who would be better suited for an army that goosesteps. Good dialogue, though. Burt Lancaster is the right wing Air Force General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is modeled after Curtis LeMay, although the Lancaster swagger and charisma make him far more appealing. Frederick March is President Jordan Lyman, an ardent liberal who has just signed a peace treaty with the Soviets that presumably dismantles much of our nuclear arsenal. Lancaster does not trust the Soviet will honor their end of the bargain. Therefore he is convinced they will strike and America will be lost. A U.S. Senator is in on Lancaster's plot to take over the Presidency. They make him from California just to make sure he is affiliated with Dick Nixon. Nice touch. The public is solidly against the President, fueled by a right wing radio host in a prescient script device. In the end, the "protector of the great unwashed," Douglas, foils the plot and March's speech to the D.C. press corps is met by a standing ovation. Oh, those evil militarists and Republicans....more info
- “The Manchurian Candidate” and Its Use of American Fear
“The Manchurian Candidate,” based on the novel by Richard Condon struggles with many issues of the Cold War and accurately plays on American fear of communism.
The movie begins during the Korean War where a patrol is taken prisoner and flown into China. After being taken prisoner, the communist psychologists manage to brainwash the men and convince them that Raymond Shaw, the patrol’s sergeant, saved the group by killing a company of enemy soldiers and taking out an enemy machine gun position. Once the patrol is released by the communists, they find their way back to their own lines where Captain Bennett Marco recommends Sgt. Raymond Shaw for the Medal of Honor. Shaw flies back to the United States to receive his medal, and he takes a job for a newspaper in New York. During the movie, the audience discovers that Shaw is being controlled by communist operatives within the United States, and men from his former patrol start having dreams about the brainwashing process, where they uncover the truth to what actually happened. Marco goes to Shaw after Shaw has killed several people including his mother’s political rival, Senator Jordan and his daughter. Marco attempts to reverse the brainwashing by uncovering that the secret trigger to Shaw’s orders lies in the queen of diamonds. Marco discovers that Shaw’s own mother is his American operative who gives him orders, and in the end Shaw is supposed to assassinate his step-father’s running mate in order that his step-father, Senator John Iselin, might take the presidency. Marco’s attempt to reverse the brainwashing of Shaw works, and Shaw assassinates his mother and his step-father before turning the gun on himself. The filmmakers, although maybe unaware of it themselves at the time, use the American public’s misunderstanding of communism, specifically monolithic communism, to spark fear and impress the idea that communist operatives can enter a infiltrate the United States with ease and possibly even take power. “The Manchurian Candidate” uses the fears of American audiences during the early 1960s, especially psychological fears, monolithic communism, and fears of infiltration, to launch the film into great success in theaters across the country. By playing America’s fears, the film satisfies the extreme paranoia and the hearty skepticism which was prevalent and thriving during and because of the Cold War.
Early in the movie, we see the brainwashing techniques being displayed to leaders of several different communist nations: the Russians, Chinese, and North Koreans. By portraying these countries as working cooperatively, the film plays on a fervent fear that many Americans held about communists—they were all working jointly to spread communism across the world. It is unclear whether or not the filmmakers were aware that monolithic communism was nonexistent, but the movie nonetheless depicts the communists nations working in strong coherence with one another to fight capitalism and the American way of life. Once Raymond Shaw returns back to the United States, his communist instructor is a Russian, not one of the North Koreans who had actually brainwashed him. Later we see the return of the North Korean psychologist, but he simply directs Shaw’s Russian instructor on how to control Shaw’s training. Once Shaw is handed over to his American instructor, his mother, the audience discovers that she has been working within America for the communists for years. Her blatant control over her husband, who is a United States Senator, scares audiences because they see a national leader as the puppet of an American communist who is working for European and Asian communists. These three communists, the Russian instructor, Shaw’s mother, and the North Korean psychologist, work together throughout the course of the movie to put a puppet regime, under their control, in the White House. The movie gives the impression that monolithic communism is a veritable threat, which is constantly trying to overthrow and undermine American political and military goals by means of foreign and internal operatives. Viewing the movie from a perspective where we know that monolithic communism was not a real threat, we can conclude movies such as “The Manchurian Candidate” helped instill the idea that communism was a unified force that Americans were fighting against during the Cold War.
“The Manchurian Candidate” tackles the relatively new topic of brainwashing and psychological warfare. Because Americans did not have a large understanding of psychology, the psychological attacks and brainwashing that occur during the movie pose genuine threats, sparking new fears in Americans. The American forces in “The Manchurian Candidate” are almost completely unaware of the existence of the brainwashing that took place among the American soldiers, which provides American audiences with a situation where the communist psychologists have a more superior understanding of the human brain and how to manipulate it. American officials do not understand the significance of the dreams of Captain Marco and Corporal Melvin, and Marco himself has to devise a plan to reverse the brainwashing of Raymond Shaw. During the time in which the movie was released, there was a fear in America that American technology was not keeping up with the technology of the communists—the missile gap theory. Therefore, “The Manchurian Candidate” only intensifies the fear that American scientists are advancing in new studies more slowly than the communists are—that America is falling behind in the scientific advancements, only psychologically instead of militarily. The communist brainwashing in “The Manchurian Candidate” could arguably be an allegorical statement about the missile gap, but it also issued a new fear to American audiences, psychological warfare.
The movie uses Raymond Shaw’s mother to represent the ardent fear of communist infiltration within America. The wife of a rightwing, conservative senator, Shaw’s mother manages her husband’s campaigns and political actions, which include accusing other political officials of being communists. Ironically, we discover in the end that Shaw’s mother has been working with communists for years, plotting to put Senator Iselin in the White House, where she would continue to run his policies. Mrs. Iselin’s character serves as a reminder to American audiences that anyone, even the middle-aged wife of a conservative senator, can be a communist, working to spread communism worldwide. Mrs. Iselin’s character is cold and ruthless throughout the movie, which serves to depict the heartless and unfeeling nature of communism. But her character is also one of the masterminds in the grand scheme to spread communism within the United States, breaking classic gender roles of the early 1960s and providing an example of an intelligent, capable woman, despite her cold nature. Shaw states in the movie that his mother always won, but her death at the end of the movie signifies that hard-fisted communism cannot win in the end. The other communist operatives who work inside America also support the fears of how easily communists can enter America and exist without much suspicion. The North Korean psychologist comes to New York with relative ease to check on the condition and readiness of Raymond Shaw as an assassin, proving communists can easily enter the country. The Russian operative who instructs Shaw has maintained a base for communism within New York City for years, which depicts the relevant threat of communists living and operating, unchecked within America. The movie clearly points out the threat of communist infiltration and supports the fear that Americans already have about it.
“The Manchurian Candidate” uses fears already present in American audiences such as communist infiltration and monolithic communism combined with the introduction of a new fear, psychological warfare (or brainwashing), to launch the movie into box-office success. By playing on American fears, the movie addresses further issues of powerful females and extreme conservatism, hinting that both can be detrimental in certain circumstances. The issue of Senator Iselin being a staunch conservative plays into the idea that the filmmakers were trying to send a message about the former McCarthy era, where Hollywood stars and filmmakers were blacklisted because of associations with the communist party, many based solely on hearsay. By having the threat of communist infiltration come from a neoconservative who outrageously called people communists, the filmmakers could have been indirectly claiming that McCarthyism was a guise by which communism could actually grow. With a perspective of over forty years after the release of the movie, it is easy point out the inaccuracies of the movie, but the threats and fears presented in the movie were existent within American society during the era in which the movie was released. The filmmakers cleverly used American fear to create a box-office hit and an American movie classic.
- The Old B@W Movie that Shocked Even Me!
I've watched Psycho, Frakenstein, Nosferatu, Rebecca, and Dracula, and all of them I loved. They just didn't suprise that much. I rented The Manchurian Canidate thinking that this will be another old movie worth watching but not suprising. I finished it and i was left in awe by the ending which suprised me terribly. Good Movie that is worth watching. Although i didn't like the director (John Frakenheimer also did the French Connection 2 and started on The Exorcist 4 before he died), i still loved it! And the funny thing is, I was 13 when i saw it!...more info
- Five Stars for Film--and Five Stars for Commentary
I don't need to go into the film that much as the other reviews here have done this extremely well--only that I also think this is an incrediblely original and effective movie that has help up extremely well over time. I haven't seen the remake because I figure, why bother?
I do want to comment on what is one of the most informative commentaries I have heard with a DVD. John Frankenheimer's commentary is extremely interesting--it really fleshes out the creative process that when into making this thoroughly original film. It goes into photographic techniques (the large use of wide angle for depth of field), editing methods for various scenes, screen-writing and acting methods, accidental creative brilliance (actually an accidental out-of-focus shot that couldn't be refilmed due to Sinatra's propensity for one-take work--he couldn't recreate the energy of the first take)--lots of things like this. Frankenheimer discusses these things understandably and with real effection.
This is the one of the best commentaries for a commercial film--a real must for serious film afficionados.
Frankenheimer must have died shortly after recording this commentary. His death is a great loss to the film community....more info
- A Remarkable Film That Lives Up To Its Reputation
Legend has it that THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE was withdraw from distribution in the wake of the Kennedy assassination. This is not true. The simple fact is that the film was not regarded as particularly good either before or after Kennedy's death. 1962 reviews ranged from lackluster to savage, with Laurence Harvey's performance the focus of critical ire; box office was tepid; and in the end the film vanished from screens of its own accord.
Legend also has it that THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE was not seen again until 1988. This is not true. The film was broadcast on television on at least three occasions between 1965 and 1975--but although critical response was more positive, audience interest remained low. What is true, however, is that star Frank Sinatra, who controlled the rights, had become extremely disenchanted with distributor United Artists, and by 1975 he was no longer willing to allow the film to be shown under their banner.
Like some films that are briefly seen and then hidden from public view, the longer THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE remained off the screen the more it came to be considered an important film, a classic film. When Sinatra and United Artists resolved their dispute in 1988, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE went into a limited theatrical release, and on this occasion it did not disappoint: it received a critical reevaluation that was overwhelmingly positive.
Seen today, it is virtually impossible to watch the film without the ghosts of John F. Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald haunting the screen. Consequently, it is very difficult to evaluate the film in a purely critical sense. The story concerns Sgt. Raymond Shaw, stepson of Senator Iselin (James Gregory), who returns from the Korean War with a Medal of Honor. But something odd occurs: the men that served with him, including Major Marco (Frank Sinatra), begin to have nightmares about Shaw and about what really happened in Korea. It soon transpires that Shaw, and to a certain extent his entire company, were captured and "brainwashed"--and Shaw has been turned into an unwitting assassin.
The 1959 Richard Condon novel was as much a wickedly funny satire on American politics as it was a suspense thriller, and screenwriter George Axelrod keeps that quality intact. The film is very witty in an extremely perverse way, and while director Frankeheimer has been praised for his cinematic technique, his real triumph here is the way he balances this darkly comic edge with the film's plot: instead of balancing them, he allows them to grate against each other. You are never quite sure how you are supposed to take the film from scene to scene, and the result is a mounting sense of unease.
In terms of the cast, Angela Lansbury's performance as Shaw's mother Mrs. Iselin is justly famous, and it will come as great shock to those who tend to think of her in terms of her television work. She is easily one of the most evil characters ever put on screen, a horrifying combination of stridency, ruthlessness, ambition, and Freudian nightmare. But in truth the entire cast is extremely good, all the way from the star players to the bit parts.
This is easily Frank Sinatra's best film performance, and although Laurence Harvey received poor reviews in 1962, it is today impossible to imagine any other way to play the role. Janet Leigh also scores in a small but smartly written role, as does James Gregory, whose role is clearly based on the notorious Senator Joe McCarthy. Also particularly memorable are John McGiver and Leslie Parrish as Senator Thomas Jordan and his daughter Jocelyn.
The cinematography is remarkably stylish with too many memorable set pieces to count; seldom has Frankenheimer so effectively used his talent for creating a newsreel-like tone. The score, the editing, and the production values are also quite fine, and taken as a package the film has been tremendously influential; one can see it in the work of such directors as William Friedkin and Oliver Stone, particularly in the latter's controversial film JFK.
But there is a flaw here. For all the expertise, the film becomes less engaging as it progresses. The film has a very detached tone and the major characters tend to be unsympathetic, and both Frankenheimer and Axelrod are just a shade too careful to spell out all the details. In the end, the deliberately uneasy mixture of comic and dramatic elements seem to play out just one step too far, and the film becomes just a shade too cool in tone for its own good. By the time the film ends you are having to work a bit too hard to stay with it. I'm giving the film five stars; it deserves that, and easily. And I think everyone who sees it will enjoy it--but I suspect that one viewing will be enough for most.
The "Special Edition" DVD release is quite good, and the picture and sound is crisp and clean throughout. In terms of bonuses, however, the film does not really receive what it deserves. Although it is often interesting, Frankenheimer's commentary is a bit spotty, and the 1988 conversation between Frankenheimer, Axelrod, and Sinatra is indeed fascinating but too brief to really satisfy; much the same might be said of William Friedkin's comments. Janet Leigh was still living at the time of the DVD's release; it is a major failure that the bonuses do not offer an interview with her. The Angela Lansbury interview, however, is quite fine. Recommended overall.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer...more info
- The Manchurian Candidate
This story of a soldier brainwashed by Reds to kill the President is twisty and unnerving, building to a shattering crescendo. All the players are first-rate, in particular Angela Lansbury as the mother from hell, while Sinatra's portrayal of Marco reflects the dramatic high point of his film career. A nail-biting political thriller that warrants repeat viewings, "Candidate" is as relevant today as it was at the height of the Cold War. Beware inferior remake....more info
- Absolute third rate thrash
Has all the subtlety of an elephant's tread. A group of American soldiers are kidnapped by Russkies, brainwashed to assassinate a Presidential Candidate. The man chosen to do the job is the very wooden Harvey doing all sorts of facial-contortions that are supposed to be passed off as acting. The most debilitating part of the movie is the absurdity of watching that Italian Club-Singer trying, you guessed it, act. Of all the bad looking rats to have ever disgraced America Cinema, Sinatra must take the cake. Few females are thereabouts doing exactly nothing! Few blacks are so generously included in the movie's cast - not real blacks really but light-skinned mullato types.
Not a single character comes to his/her logical conclusion and not even an ambiguous one; they all end up in a vacuum. To call it the best movie of 1960's is absurd. A ridiculous offering! Oh, where are my cards - I would rather play solitaire than watch this American thrash!
- The Manchurian Candidate
A classic movie. Sinatra is great and the drama builds thru the whole movie. Great! ...more info
- Politics Aside, A Riveting Film
Suffice to say the movie had messages from both the Right and Left - with both Conservative and Liberal villains, but politics aside, the film boasts an involving story that keeps your interest for most of the two hours and six minutes.
It featured some very interesting characters who are fascinating to watch. That includes the supporting roles. It didn't hurt to have John Frankenheimer direct, either. His films usually were outstanding.
I thought Angela Lansbury and Laurence Harvey had the best parts of the film. The only really stupid and/or annoying character in the movie was played by Janet Leigh. Her romance scenes with Frank Sinatra added nothing to this riveting film. Eliminated, it would have made for a tighter, even better movie. Also, Sinatra found out too easily where Harvey was hiding in Madison Square Garden. Nobody could figure it out that fast! Nonetheless, the ending was a bit surprising and I won't spoil it for anyone who has not seen this.
The movie has endured the test of time and, from what I hear, would have been best left on its own instead of watering down the name of this film with an insipid re-make.
This is "The Manchurian Candidate" version you want to see. ...more info
- Hugely overrated and somewhat dull; I don't think this aged very well...
A lot of people will disagree with me here, and I won't fault them a bit. `The Manchurian Candidate' is considered a classic and so just about everyone and their mother is going to be up in arms when they read this review.
I just didn't get it.
That statement isn't to say that I didn't understand it, it's to say that I just didn't get why this could be considered so grand a film. It is touted as one of the most chilling and suspenseful political thrillers of all time, but quite honestly I found most of the film rather corny and the other half was plain dull. The only aspect of the film that kept me entertained was Angela Lansbury's brilliant portrayal of the evil Mrs. Iselin. She understood how to work with what she was given, stripping away the corn that was so prevalent and delivering a flawlessly chilled performance.
So, the film tells of Bennett Marco who is having strange dreams involving the brainwashing of his platoon, all of it having something to do with Raymond Shaw, a decorated war hero whose new title seems to strike Bennett as odd; since Raymond was no hero. As Bennett starts to unlock the truth, Raymond's dastardly mother Mrs. Iselin gets desperate to have her son complete the task before him.
I can understand why maybe this was considered so great back when it was released, but quite honestly, I do see how this can still be considered great. The plot is simple, yet it is overdone far too much in areas. The acting aside from Lansbury is decent at best, with Laurence Harvey turning in a dreadful performance (and I thought after seeing `A Room at the Top' that he could do NO WRONG) and Frank Sinatra struggles to define himself here. He does a decent job in parts, but overall he appears to be struggling. I also felt that technically the film had some issues, especially towards the beginning, with the voiceover. I thought that some of the major plot developments were a tad corny, some of them not just a tad, and they took away from the `chilling' aspects of the film. I also felt that the pacing in the films center was horrible. It drug out the prose too long and added back story that, if handled properly could have been interesting, but wound up feeling unnecessary.
The film starts off on the low side of decent, takes a dive into mediocre and then struggles to redeem itself with a surprisingly riveting ending that just doesn't have enough to completely save the film entirely.
Like I said, this is not a popular opinion, but it is mine none-the-less, and any of you who are familiar with my reviews know that I am honest always. You may love this movie, and if so feel free to defend it (that's what the comment section is for) but I personally just didn't get it. I adored Lansbury, but as far as political thrillers go, this one lacks any real bite....more info
- A Classic
This is one of the great Cold War thrillers.
It features Laurence Harvey as Raymond Shaw, Frank Sinatra as Major Bennett Marco, Angela Lansbury as Shaw's mother, Mrs. Iselin, and Janet Leigh as Rose.
Although the story is familiar to most people, I'll recap it briefly. Shaw, Marco, and several fellow soldiers are captured during the Korean War. They are transported to China where they undergo intense brainwashing. When they come back, they are all convinced that Shaw (who is well connected politically - his stepfather is a U.S. senator) singlehandedly wiped out countless numbers of the enemy and saved them all. He is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor based upon their testimony.
After his return to the States, his handlers intend to use him as a political assassin. Prior to that, Marco and some of the others start having nightmares making them think that everything is not as it seems. Maj. Marco is intent on finding out the truth.
I will refrain from telling anymore to avoid spoilers. Suffice it to say, there are lots of psychological machinations and some intense action. This film is very well done. It was made in 1962 so the viewer should not expect lots of special effects, etc. In spite of that, I think that this version is far superior to the more recent one. For those who want to see the movie and don't know which one to get, this is the one.
- I CAN RELATE
AS A MIND CONTROL SURVIVOR MYSELF, I CAN RELATE TO THIS MOVIE WAY TO MUCH. BEING THAT I WAS SHALL WE SAY "MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE" TRAINED AND SUCCESSFULLY TESTED THIS MOVIE HELPED TO TRIGGER MANY FLASHBACKS THAT I HAVE HAD SINCE JUNE OF 2004, 20 YEARS AFTER IT ALL STARTED FOR ME ANYWAY. THIS MOVIE TELLS IT PRETTY MUCH THE WAY IT HAPPENS. A PERSON CAN KILL ON COMMAND WITH OUT EMOTION AND HAVE NO MEMORY OF IT. A NUMBER OF MIND CONTROL ASSASSINS HAVE BEEN USED OVER THE YEARS TO TAKE OUT DIFFERENT PEOPLE, MARK DAVID CHAPMIN WHO KILLED JOHN LENNON, PATRICK PURDY WHO SHOT UP THE STOCKTON CA. SCHOOL YARD BACK IN 1989 THEN SHOT HIM SELF UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF TWO "DARK SUITED" AGENTS WHO WERE STANDING NEAR BY, SIRHAN SIRHAN WHO SHOT BOBBY KENNEDY BUT DOESNT REMEMBER DOING IT AND THE NOW COLUMBUS OHIO FREEWAY SHOOTER WHO TOLD DOCTORS OF "THE VOICES" TELLING HIM TO DO IT AND THEN AFTER HE DID, THEY WOULD LEAVE HIM ALONE FOR THE TIME BEING. THE LIST GOES ON AND ON. BUT THE CONCEPT OF THIS MOVIS IS NOT FICTION, ITS AS REAL AS REAL GETS. WARD FRAZIER U.S. ARMY PROJECT M.A.R.S. MIND CONTROL SURVIVOR 1984-1986. AURORA IN....more info
- Great movie..The only good sinatra movie,The "remake" is not good..go with this.
The remake has nothing on the original(this one),Really good movie, the only good sinatra flick I have seen. A real thriller....more info
- The Manchurian Candidate, a political thriller
The Manchurian Candidate =
Starring: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey
The political importance of The Manchurian Candidate, a movie based on the novel written by Richard Condon, is excellent because it teaches us how power corrupts and absolute power has the ability to corrupt people, process and society absolutely. Lina Navarini and I set out to see this version first, followed by the remake by Denzel Washington.
Frank Sinatra plays the role of Bennet Marco, an infantryman who experiences recurring nightmares about his last episode during the Korean war, when Soviets kidnap Americans and take them to Manchuria in Communist China, hence the name of the book and film. False memories are implanted in the mind of the soldiers of the platoon and one in particular, Raymond Shaw is provided with recollection to a card with the figure of a Queen of Diamonds that triggers his mind to do whatever he is told, even to murder, without "guilt or fear" therefore, little risk of being discovered.
The purpose behind brain-washing of these Americans is a desire to place a man in the White House that would do anything when triggered by the Russians through the use of the card, imagine the power Russians and Chinese would have if they were to control the United States of America.
But Bennett Marco dreams diametrically opposed images to what they planted in his memory. Upon returning, he told the world that Sergeant Raymond Shaw, played by Laurence Harvey had rescued the platoon soldiers, to the exception of two who perish. He has told the world that Raymond Shaw is the kindest, most generous and brave person they have ever known, when in his dream, he remembers Shaw as a man who had no friends, was despised by most other soldiers, and is responsible for committing the murder of the two who never return.
Shaw is decorated as a war hero, given the medal of honor, a distinction that is rarely awarded, but his dreams make him question whether they have been brained washed to believe Shaw had saved them. At first, Sinatra feels that he may be going mad and goes to see military medical personnel in search for help and support. They too believe he is experiencing post traumatic disorders, and they remove him from any duty, asking him to go on vacation and to rest.
But another member of the platoon is also having the same type dreams and soon they realize that there is more to this story than meets the eye. Sinatra is assigned to get close to Shaw and he unravels a rather sad personal story, where we learn that Shaw's mother has manipulated her son's life in search for fame and glory for her husband who aspires to become the President of the United States. The mother's role is masterfully played by Angela Lansbury, and we soon find ourselves hating this manipulative, controlling, and mad woman. Simply magnificent, don't miss it!
- it doesn't get too much better than this
Manchurian Candidate is a near perfect movie. It's a nerve wracking suspense story, a Cold War spy story, and a first class tragedy. Laurence Harvey is actually heartbreaking as Raymond Shaw, a man who has been absolutely ruined first by his monstrous mother played in an incredible and frightening performance by Angela Lansbury and then years later by Chinese brainwashers in Korea. He's not a nice man, he's cold, aloof and arrogant but when the audience sees why they and his one real friend played by Frank Sinatra (it's one of his best roles)come to care for him and you want him to somehow be saved.
Raymond is a time bomb and every second of the movie is a countdown to his going off. Will Sinatra's character be able to save himself in time to figure out what wrong? Will he be able to stop Raymond? America, the world and the lives of the three people who actually care about Raymond Shaw are all on the line and the answer is in a deck of playing cards.
This movie has intense acting, camera work that shows everything at odd, slightly unnerving angles and an ending that still gives the view a jolt. Avoid the weak remake the get the real thing....more info
- The original and best - paranoia , chills and friendship
As many film fans would be aware , this film has recently been remade . We are seeing that a lot lately . I cannot think of a reason to do it with an original as good as this . The only good thing about it will be if it makes some viewers discover the first film .
The director was blessed with a great script and a great cast .
The film also leaves some questions unanswered - is Janet Leigh what she seems ?
The friendship between Frank Sinatra and Laurence Harvey is unlikely and doomed , but the mounting desperation keeps you hanging on wondering what will happen - you piece it together as the film unwinds .
This is a film with a pervasive sense of evil and foreboding to it . If you like it , I recommend one of John Frankenheimer's other films , SECONDS .
You will never look at a pack of playing cards the same way again . Highly recommended !!...more info
- A Classic...
A classic about the "Cold War" era with some truely villinous characters...The incest angle could not be fully explored, but that was the tone of the country at that time...Otherwise, it's one of the most perfect movies ever made......more info
- the better version
This version is far superior to the ill advised attempt at a remake. The original is more suspenseful than the remake. If you decide you want to see both, even though the endings are not identical, I recommend that you see this version first because the remake has enough similarities to ruin the suspense. Frank Sinatra portrays a Korean war veteran named Bennet Marco who has nightmares about brainwashing with fellow platoon member Raymond Shaw, played by Lawrence Harvey, killing companions upon the order of their captors. The dream sequences are totally surreal, an aspect missing from the remake. Shaw is highly decorated war hero who is dominated by his mother (Angela Lansbury).
This domineering mother is married to her second husband, a United States senator who is candidate for vice president of the United States. The plot revolves around attempts of Lansbury's character to make her husband president. Is she just a woman of blind ambition or, is there a much more sinister aspect to the attempt? Meanwhile, Marco (Sinatra's character) seems to be getting a grip and begins to piece together the fact that there is a dangerous plot going on. If I say much more, I will give too much away but, suffice it to say that her son's having been brainwashed plays an integral part in her machinations.
In the remake, the brainwashed son, rather than his step father, is the candidate. The remake's version just does not work as well. It is much more plausible that a brainwashed, at times zombie like tool of clever conspirators can be manipulated to be part of a plot rather than being the actual candidate himeslf. Also, the difference in roles played by this character in the two versions leads to a much more satisfying ending in the original. I recommend the original highly. At best, my recommendation for the remake is lukewarm....more info
The Manchurian Candidate is terrifying. Conspiracy buffs will love this film. The definition of unsettling is seeing crooner and movie musical star Frank Sinatra giving an Oscar-worthy performance as a terrified man who is in way over his head in a conspiracy he does not understand.
This movie had my head spinning with it's description of a powerful corporation and a shadow government....more info
- Profound, Introspective Movie on Assassination Politics
The 60s and beginning in the 50s, was the age of political assassination. So many countries including foreign governments used assassination as part of controlling world and national politics. This makes the movie fascinating. There were also instances in the Korean War of attempted brainwashing. All governments were fascinated by the potential of psychological torture and warfare. The Manchurian Candidate is a wonderfully made film about a group of soldiers taken prisoner in Korea then brainwashed into being Communist agents without their knowledge. The American operatives then take hold of them to carry out an assignation of a political leader to gain power. Very clever, wonderful performances and held back from public view for years after it was released. Great film. ...more info