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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…
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…
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…
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,…
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…
Fantastically paranoid cold war thriller...Good work by Sinatra and Harvey but it's Angela Lansbury that steals the film in a portrait of malignant evil..
I watched this twice in a row yesterday, and was suddenly hit by a bunch of little details I missed before. Laurence Harvey's character is meant to be unlikeable, but I can't help but like him the most. The political commentary may be dated, but the themes are timeless.
Absolutely amazing film. Kept me guessing the whole time.
An edgy, vicious satire.
A slick noire-lite political thriller, the Manchurian Candidate is a neat little film that uses really clever camerawork and editing to show the paranoia and fear of a world with mind control based around playing cards. The idea of a killer who could not feel anything because he knows not of his deeds is a fascinating one and the repercussions are terrifying. Not much more to say other than that the Criterion for this comes with a dope poster.
Director John Frankenheimer's political satire/paranoid thriller (made before that designation came into vogue during the next decade) manages to take on both right wing extremism in the person of Senator John Iselin (James Gregory), modeled after "Tail-Gunner" Joe McCarthty, who has a great deal of trouble keeping straight the number of communists he says there are in the Department of Defense, and various representatives of International Communism who have captured a squad of American soldiers in Korea, subjected them to "brainwashing", and plan use them in an attempt to elect a person as President of the United States who is under their control. The film holds up very well today, particularly in its comments on a political world where opposing…
Still packs a punch probably because it's sadly all too relevant today. Frankenheimer brilliantly keeps the proceedings off-kilter inducing the same sensation of paranoia in the viewer that the characters of the film are perpetually living in. Angela Lansbury is mesmerizing and utterly chilling.
Pretty great direction, especially liked the creativity of the brainwashing sequence but man was this film long, dull and predictable. Not to mention starring three actors who I'd never choose to cast in anything. Lansbury on the other hand.
When Jonathan Demme’s remake of this was released it was compared to the original and dismissed: I remember reading a review that championed the original for being subversive...but what is subversive about equating McCarthyism with Communism? It seems smugly liberal to me. The Manchurian Candidate rattles along in an efficient enough way and as long as you don’t bother to think it is an entertaining film – I remember seeing it when I was 14 or so and thinking it was superb – but it is a stupid and dishonest film. John Frankenheimer liked to have a big close up to one side of his widescreen image, then the other actors in the background on the other half of the…
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