The Manchurian CandidateDirector: John Frankenheimer, Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh
An unusually tense and intelligent political thriller, The Manchurian Candidate was a film far ahead of its time. Its themes of thought control, political assassination, and multinational conspiracy were hardly common currency in 1962, and while its outlook is sometimes informed by Cold War paranoia, the film seemed nearly as timely when it was reissued in 1987 as it did on its original release. It opens with a group of soldiers whooping it up in a bar in Korea as their commander, Sgt. Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), arrives to inform them that they're back on duty. These men obviously have no fondness for Shaw, and he feels no empathy for them. While on patrol, Shaw and his platoon are ambushed by Korean troops. Months later, Shaw is receiving a hero's welcome as he returns to the United States to accept the Congressional Medal of Honor, and several of the soldiers who served under Shaw repeatedly refer to him as "the bravest, finest, most lovable man I ever met." It soon becomes evident that after their capture by the Koreans, Shaw and his men were subjected to an intense program of brainwashing prior to their release. While several are troubled by bad dreams and inexplicable behavior, it's Capt. Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) who seems the most haunted by the experience. In time, Marco is able to piece together what happened; it seems Raymond Shaw was programmed by a shadowy cadre of Russian and Chinese agents into a killing machine who will assassinate anyone, even a close friend, when given the proper commands. On the other side of the coin, Shaw is also used for political gain by his harridan mother (Angela Lansbury), who guides the career of her second husband, John Iselin (James Gregory), a bone-headed congressman hoping to win the vice-presidential nomination through a campaign of anti-Communist hysteria. The Manchurian Candidate features a host of remarkable performances, several from actors cast cleverly against type. Frank Sinatra's edgy, aggressive turn as Marco may be the finest dramatic work of his career; Laurence Harvey's chilly onscreen demeanor was rarely used to s better advantage than as Raymond Shaw; James Gregory is great as the oft-befuddled Senator Iselin; and Angela Lansbury's ultimate bad mom will be a shock to those who know her as the lovable mystery writer from Murder, She Wrote. George Axelrod's screenplay (based on Richard Condon's novel) is by turns compelling, witty, and horrifying in its implications, and John Frankenheimer's direction milks it for all the tension it can muster. While Frankenheimer's career has had its ups and downs, The Manchurian Candidate and Seconds (1966) suggest that he deserves to be recognized as one of the most brilliantly paranoid American filmmakers of the '60s. Entertaining yet unsettling, both films indicate that things in the '60s were not what they seemed, with a resonance that still echoes uncomfortably in the present.
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- Original Release:
- Mgm (Video & Dvd)
- Region Code:
- [Wide Screen]
- [DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
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Cast & Crew
|David Amram||Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision|
|Joseph C. Behm||Asst. Director|
|Philip M. Jefferies||Art Director|
|Howard W. Koch||Executive Producer|
|Moss Mabry||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|George R. Nelson||Set Decoration/Design|
|Paul Pollard||Special Effects|
|Richard Sylbert||Production Designer|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This is one of the best movies I have ever watched, and a stunning masterpiece from beginning to end. A must see for anyone interested in politics, sci-fi, or just looking for a little mystery.
The Manchurian Candidate is a classic 1962 directed by John Frankenheimer. The premise of the story revolves around the son of a prominent political family who is brainwashed to be an assassin for the Communist party. Sergeant Raymond Shaw, who is played by Laurence Harvey, is the man who is brainwashed. Raymond has conflicts internally and externally because of the brainwashing done by the Communist party. The movie is as exciting, or even more so than any other thriller movie that is out on the market today. It is dated, because it is set in a time where Communism was a threat, but it does not take away from the movie’s greatness. I suppose they thought that it would be a good idea to remake the movie in 2004. The movie failed in the box office, because you can’t replicate something this great.
I am was never a big fan of Frank Sinatra's array of musical and acting talents. Until the day i came across this film on the idiot box and was in awe of the storyline and character structure of the late John Frankenheimer masterpiece. So i will not spoil the plot and climax. I will say in brief an army patrol unit led by Cpt. Ben Marko (Sinatra) in 1952 Korea is ambushed by those dirty commmunistas (as they say down here). The members are brainwahsed and one is selected to be a programmed as a hired assassin for a US operative but the question is which one?. What makes this worth the buy is that unlike must modern day thrillers this one has an actual script.
I would give this movie ten stars if I could...It is a brilliant, gripping film which embodies all the paranoia, hysteria and distrust of science that were rampant during the cold war, while at the same time telling us the heartbreaking story of a young man destroyed by the enemy. A decidedly anti-communist movie, this is one I will never get tired of. The handsome, and unfortuantely, late, Laurence Harvey is astonishing in this movie as the tortured, seemingly cold and crusty but truly fragile Sergeant Raymond Shaw. His Captain, Bennet Marco, is played the late, wonderful Frank Sinatra in one of his best (an ironically non-musical) movies, and Angela Lansbury is nothing short of seriously creepy and amazingly believable as the crazed communist, and Raymond's mother, Mrs. Iseland. A must-own for lovers of conspiracy movies, lovesrs of drama, lovers of war movies, and those who can appreciate fine directing, acting and screenwriting. A wonderful, mind-blowing movie.