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The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Approved  |   |  Thriller  |  24 October 1962 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 59,240 users   Metascore: 94/100
Reviews: 295 user | 129 critic | 14 from

A former Korean War POW is brainwashed by Communists into becoming a political assassin. But another former prisoner may know how to save him.



(based upon a novel by), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Khigh Dhiegh ...
James Edwards ...
Douglas Henderson ...
Albert Paulsen ...
Barry Kelley ...
Lloyd Corrigan ...
Madame Spivy ...
Female Berezovo


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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Once unbelievable. Now unthinkable. The chilling classic returns [rerelease] See more »




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Release Date:

24 October 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Botschafter der Angst  »

Box Office


$2,200,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)| |

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In spite of John Frankenheimer's insistence that much of the credit for The Manchurian Candidate's success was due to George Axelrod's writing, the script actually contained very few camera directions. The imaginative depiction of the brainwashing sequence, with its intercutting between different perspectives and fantasies, the playing out of the assassination scene, and such touches as the use of TV screens in the press conference, were all worked out by Frankenheimer. See more »


When Rosie and Ben meet on the train, the train passes the same water tower and countryside twice. See more »


Marco: It's not that Raymond Shaw is hard to like. He's IMPOSSIBLE to like!
See more »


Referenced in The X-Files: Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man (1996) See more »


Some Soul from Seoul
Music composed and conducted by David Amram
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

All by itself it raises my opinion of everyone involved.
14 August 1999 | by (Canberra, Australia) – See all my reviews

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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