Years after her aunt was murdered in her home, a young woman moves back into the house with her new husband. However, he has a secret which he will do anything to protect, even if that means driving his wife insane.
A grief-stricken mother takes on the LAPD to her own detriment when it stubbornly tries to pass off an obvious impostor as her missing child, while also refusing to give up hope that she will find him one day.
Major Ben Marco is an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army. He served valiantly as a captain in the Korean war and his Sergeant, Raymond Shaw, even won the Medal of Honor. Marco has a major problem however: he has a recurring nightmare, one where two members of his squad are killed by Shaw. He's put on indefinite sick leave and visits Shaw in New York. Shaw for his part has established himself well, despite the misgivings of his domineering mother, Mrs. Eleanor Shaw Iselin. She is a red-baiter, accusing anyone who disagrees with her right-wing reactionary views of being a Communist. Raymond hates her, not only for how she's treated him but equally because of his step-father, the ineffectual U.S. Senator John Iselin, who is intent on seeking higher office. When Marco learns that others in his Korean War unit have nightmares similar to his own, he realizes that something happened to all of them in Korea and that Raymond Shaw is the focal point. Written by
Contrary to popular belief, the film was not pulled from circulation following the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It made its American television debut on The CBS Thursday Night Movies in September 1965 (source: Broadcasting magazine), and was repeated on that network later that season. Only when the rights reverted to Frank Sinatra in 1972 did the film disappear from view, although even then turning up for third and fourth network showings on NBC in spring 1974 (source: TV Guide) and summer 1975 (source: Variety). Sinatra's neglect in keeping the film in distribution gave rise to the legend that it was suppressed because of its alleged role in Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination of the 35th president. The legend was further perpetuated when Sinatra, in alliance with MGM/UA, re-released the film to theaters in 1988. When the rumor was debunked in an article in Films in Review, another myth, one claiming that Sinatra and UA had a dispute about the profits, took its place. The myth survives to this day, but it is pure fiction. See more »
Rosie lights a cigarette and gives it to Marco on the train. He smokes it, then stamps it out, then is seen smoking it again, then finishes grinding it out. The long shots don't match the closeups. See more »
[cordially, at a party the Iselins are giving]
How good of you to come, Tom.
Sen. Thomas Jordan:
[matter-of-fact, rather than cordial]
I've explained to your husband why I'm here.
Tom, I know you have strong, personal feelings about Johnny and about me. But, what I would like to find out is, how strong they really are. To put it as simply as possible, If Johnny's name were to be put forward at the convention next week, would you attempt to block him?
Sen. Thomas Jordan:
[taken slightly aback]
You're joking, of course?
Mr. Stevenson ...
[...] See more »
There is a reverence surrounding this film that is difficult for the casual viewer to comprehend. It might have been revolutionary for its time, but IMDb users who describe it as timeless seem to have undergone a brainwashing scheme themselves.
The plot holes are large and plentiful and some of the acting is diabolical. The story, of a soldier transformed by hypnosis into a murderous automaton, is interesting enough in a B-movie kind of way, but the sheer volume of narrative leaps would test the patience of any modern viewer.
Several key scenes are literally incredible. Frank Sinatra meets Janet Leigh on a train and five minutes later, without any warmth on Frank's side, she decides that she is going to leave her fiancé for him.
Leslie Parrish, playing the leading character's lover, chooses to wear a fancy dress costume that, by sheer coincidence, is the hypnotic trigger to send him into a trance. The likelihood of her wearing a Queen of Diamonds costume is so low that I assumed she must be in on the hypnotist's conspiracy, but it was just a bizarre red herring.
Other irritations include the buffoonery of John Yerkes Iselin, the main character's stepfather, who wins the nomination for the vice presidency despite being a hopeless drunk. What was presumably intended as satire merely undermines the plot.
And in the final scene, the security at the auditorium where the climactic assassination is due to take place is so lax that any old hit-man could have done it. The evil communists' scheme to groom someone who could get near the presidential candidate was unnecessary, if not counterproductive. If a presidential candidate were to be killed, would the public really support the vice-presidential co-runner if they knew his stepson was the assassin?
As for the innovative fight scene, it is terribly unconvincing by today's standards and can't have been that good even in 1962. Henry Silva, Sinatra's kung fu adversary, is downright awful, but even his acting looks Oscar-worthy compared to James Edwards's wooden turn as a spooked GI.
The good news, however, is that Jonathan Demme's remake is excellent. The 1962 version is an interesting historical document, but it doesn't work as a thriller.
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