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The Manchurian Candidate
When you've seen it all, you'll swear there's never been anything like it!
The Manchurian Candidate is a political thriller from American director John Frankenheimer. An American soldier is brainwashed into being a killer for the communist Russians during the Korean War.
Whilst Alan Pakula would go on to create some of the most potent paranoid thrillers a decade later, the seeds of those post-Kennedy conspiracy theories were perfectly realised in John Frankenheimer's Cold War classic in 1962. Surprisingly this was released on the 24th October 1962 - right in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a time when fear of nuclear warfare was at an all time high.
Frankenheimer tries his damnedest to disturb the viewer from the very beginning of the film with American soldiers sold out by their Chinese guide, handed over to the Russians and South Koreans. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why the film failed at the box-office upon release, with the director…
It's a terrible thing to hate your mother. But I didn't always hate her. When I was a child, I only kind of disliked her.
John Frankenheimer's adaptation of Richard Condon's 1959 novel of the same name is quite possibly his greatest film and also Frank Sinatra's best outing as an actor. The film is so well made that 50 years later, even though it is drenched in Cold War Red Menace paranoia, it still feels like a contemporary story today. Honestly the theme of manipulating the public's perception of a perceived threat, real or not, is as poignant today as it was in 1962 if not more so.
As mentioned it's probably Sinatra's best performance as an…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Bit of a nosedive (this was previously my favorite film of '62), because I can no longer persuade myself that the whole is greater than—or even equal to—the sum of its parts. Marco and Rosie's meet-weird on the train ("Are you Arabic? Let me put it another way: Are you married?"), for example, introduces a fascinating character in whom the movie ultimately has almost zero interest; Janet Leigh all but vanishes thereafter, turning up now and again as a completely generic girlfriend who just looks concerned about stuff. Likewise, the hallucinogenic garden-club nightmare/flashback, while a masterpiece of sustained black comedy, isn't integrated into Raymond's assignment, nor does it even seem necessary for its own sake (since the brainwashed men…
Although John Frankenheimer's political thriller felt a lot more relevant when it was released (1962, when the Cold War was at its hottest) than it does now, the truth is that it hasn't lost its ability to provoke. Let's be honest, the famous conflict between the USA and the Soviet Union that almost destroyed the world is not exactly a current theme (and I'm definitely not an expert in American history, which certainly affected my enjoyment and perception of the film), but the ideas behind The Manchurian Candidate are so intelligent, ingenious and appropriate that it remains a benchmark for American political thrillers.
To prove/confirm the relevance of The Manchurian Candidate, a satire about brainwashing and killing an American President,…
The genius of this film remains how unbelievably prescient and unyielding it was towards electioneering in 1962. The Red Scare and Bay of Pigs invasion were magma hot issues at the time, and the assassination of JFK would occur within a year of the film's release. Talk about a hot-button movie. The conspiracy thriller that all subsequent conspiracy thrillers would be judged against. Has there been a film about brainwashing that even attempts to match the scope of Frankenheimer's film? The story is handled so delicately, heavy on taut mood, using next to no music and taking full advantage of black and white photography. The unraveling of a grand scheme plays so casually realistic that it is not so farfetched…
This suspenseful ride, set during the Korean War, does not seem dated at all. It follows a brainwashed war veteran who is being used in a communist scheme against his will.
This film contains one intense scene after another. One in particular, near the beginning, really stands out in my memory. It is when a group of soldiers is being brainwashed, while thinking they are at a garden party. After this, many of them begin to have nightmares revealing the truth about the events that really unfolded. Expert editing and filmmaking, in this scene as well as in the rest of the film, smoothly let the story unfold in a bold and unsettling manner.
In addition to its technical merit…
It had been about a decade since I watched this, so I figured I'd better re-watch it, what with my undying love of Frankenheimer's The Train.
And yeah...this movie is brilliant.
I find it fascinating that it both comments on the showboating insanity of Red Scare politics, while also presenting a scenario that would directly feed that kind of paranoia. It is definitely a case of having your cake and eating it too, and yet the film-making, editing, writing, and performance are so perfectly executed that I simply don't care. And the effect of this is that nobody looks good on either side of the Cold War divide. Politics is reduced to personal squabbles and slobbery egos, no matter how…
A compelling cold war thriller starring Frank Sinatra.
"My life before my liberty."
Eerie farce, devastating tragedy, paranoid thriller. It's the American way.
Remarkably prescient of the political chaos that would come later in the decade. Images of political conventions in chaos, politicians bleeding on the floor, blown up photos of cult-like communist leaders: Not just tapped in, but as if it were receiving an IV straight from the zeitgeist. Frankenheimer made one of the most representative and tragic films of the 1960s.
Is this the sweatiest thriller ever? Did Frank Sinatra come directly from playing a 3 hour concert to filming his scenes? Yo these guys look like when a professional wrestler dumps a bottle of water on their head before they enter the ring. This movie is so sweaty it makes the sauna at the YMCA smell good. Is there no other way to portray paranoia without throwing a bucket of water on the actors head every time some one sees a deck of cards? I bet half the budget went to 55 gallon barrels of fake sweat. At one point Rosie drops that weird line "Are you Arabic?" did she say that because Sinatra was so FUCKIN sweaty? I should have watched this one on the treadmill just to get in the mindset of the sweat. It's safe to say The Manchurian Candidate makes me want to take a shower.
Top-tier Cold War noir with some disturbing sci-fi thrown in for good measure. I wasn’t expecting anything less from John Frankenheimer. This really anticipated all those great political/paranoia/conspiracy thrillers throughout the years, from Alan J. Pakula’s works in the ‘70s to every single episode of Homeland. So yeah, I’ve been putting this movie off for way too long. I figured now’s the perfect time to see it since it’s election year and all. There are a few things I find not up to par, though, like how James Gregory appears to be in a different movie from everyone else. What's up with his hammy acting? It’s so distracting. Also, Henry Silva’s yellowface is not in the least convincing. Fortunately, the rest of the cast is ace. Angela Lansbury surprised me the most with her rare turn as an evil movie mom. Interesting to see how Janet Leigh managed to star in two films back-to-back about men with Mommy issues.
Still relevant and shocking after all these years. The brain-washing scenes are both harrowing and chillingly amusing, and the entire cast shines. They should have cut the Janet Leigh subplot, but this is a minor misstep in what is otherwise a tour de force.
I didn't know Angela Lansbury could be a such a bitch. Bitch/10
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!