Major Ben Marco (Frank Sinatra) is an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army. He served valiantly as a captain in the Korean war and his Sergeant, Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), 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 (Angela Lansbury). 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 (James Gregory), 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 ... Written by
Time is the ultimate judge, isn't that what they say? Well 1962's The Manchurian Candidate is all the evidence I need. It feels ahead of it's time still and so relevant. In 2004, Jonathan Demme - one of my heroes - remade it with Meryl Streep - one my favorites - and Denzel Washington - one of my favorites - and the whole thing felt so old hat that I had to see John Frankeihemer's 1962 version again. Wow! Angela Lansbury creates one of the greatest villains in movie history. She is phenomenal and like it happens she's the kind of monster you can't have enough of. Frank Sinatra is really good here and the creepiness of Laurence Harvey is unsurpassed. So, well, yes, time has confirmed and protected the greatness of this outrageous thriller.
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