Movies that are slightly off.
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…
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…
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…
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…
Thrilling to the end, and still so relevant today. It would have been amazing to have seen it when it first came out. The brainwashing stuff was extremely creepy - more scary than most horror films today!
This movie exists in kind of a strange middle point for American cinema, we are still a few years off the movies that kicked open their very New Wave, Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate were 5 years off, and Frankenheimer's own much bolder Seconds, but those ideas and anger were starting to bubble out. This is clearly a lot more political than pretty much anything America would have made 10 years before, but it's still strongly grounded in a thriller plot structure.
That's the best and worst thing about this movie really, its a really thrilling thriller. It really romps along and engages you in the rising political and violent action, there are some really great plot twists, one…
SOL.EXE THE MOVIE
Every bit as disturbing and thrilling as it must have been in 1962.
Politics! A hot topic today, so no wonder Criterion chose to re-release this film about a platoon of American soldiers that are captured and brainwashed by Korean soldiers, in time for a presidential election.\
Despite this film being hailed as a classic, I unfortunately never found it all that engaging, although the acting from Sinatra and Harvey is really good. The script is also fun in a loose way (the conversation between Sinatra and Leigh is so multi-layered)
But the pacing is a bit slow, most of the characters are unlikable, and the climax I saw coming a mile away.
Fiercely brilliant political puzzle, following a troubled Korean War vet piece together what happened overseas as a senator’s sensational Communist accusations sweep the presses. Slightly slow at times but an overall masterwork, driven by sophisticated dialogue and genuine suspense.
Hitchcock would be proud of the mother depicted there...
Excellent film, but what is the point of Janet Leigh's character? She doesn't do anything. She's just a love interest for Sinatra. That's really my only complaint.
Is there one word to describe "The Manchurian Candidate?" Certainly there are several contenders: audacious, macabre, stark, gripping, pulpy, morbid, dark, hilarious. The film so stubbornly resists categorization that it's all of these things at one point or another, and frequently several of these things all at once.
I don't know what audiences made of this film at the time of its release, though, according to accounts, it bombed at the box office, primarily because it was pulled from theatres when life (the assassination of JFK) too closely imitated art. Add its prophetic quality to the list of reasons that "The Manchurian Candidate" deserves its unique place in cinema history and should be seen by everyone.
Director John Frankenheimer was…
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