The Manchurian Candidate

The Manchurian Candidate ★★★★

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 and entertainment value, it also provides an apt commentary on American relations with foreign countries during this time period. It is also a cautionary tale about the dangers of corruption and manipulation in political affairs that can apply to any era.

The performances are outstanding. Sinatra is startlingly good. Laurence Harvey is perfect for his role as Raymond Shaw, the brainwashed man struggling to gain control. Also, Angela Lansbury plays a mother who is just deliciously evil.

With a simple, yet elegant style and a distinct voice, Frankenheimer crafts a film that is important as well as accessible.

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