Ralph and Annabell Willart are a feuding couple who are constantly bickering over their worthless, good-for nothing son Berry-Berry. When Berry-Berry begins yet another meaningless love ... See full summary »
Eva Marie Saint,
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 »
When Dr. Yen Lo makes his little "yak dung" joke he parodies the famous advertising jingle "(Winston) tastes good like a cigarette should". This cigarette and its advertising slogan weren't introduced until 1954, a year after the end of the Korean War, so Yen Lo couldn't have made the joke. This error is copied from the novel. See more »
All by itself it raises my opinion of everyone involved.
Wow! I was expecting right wing propaganda, or possibly even (a distant outside chance) left wing propaganda: I certainly wasn't expecting THIS. It isn't propaganda at all. Deriving any kind of message at all from the film is difficult - one might be tempted to conclude that we ought to never trust people who cry cheap political insults like "communist!" or "fascist!" or "racist!" at the first opportunity, but that's just a thought. At any rate, in order to get a message we have to think about the story for ourselves, very carefully, which makes it the very opposite of propaganda.
Here's another bit of advice: don't make the mistake, as I did, of thinking now and then that Frankenheimer is drifting from the point. He knows exactly what he's doing at all times. Whenever it seems he's offering some interesting diversion from the main story he's really telling the main story by other means. How good the story is I cannot convey without saying too much. Probably the central conceit everyone knows already, which was why Frankenheimer was right to spill most of the beans as soon as possible - but he does has one or two in reserve. One great thing about the story is that it doesn't rely at all on us thinking it likely.
Everyone, from composer to cameraman, did a fine job, and the cast does an even finer one. Angela Lansbury gives the performance of her life. Frank Sinatra I had never seen in a movie before, and I was surprised to discover that he can act - very well, too. It permeates down to the minor roles. Leslie Parrish as the charming innocent is certainly charming, but also subtle. "The Manchurian Candidate" would easily be the best of its kind even if it weren't the only of its kind.
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