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
The assassination sequence was filmed first over a period of four days in an empty Madison Square Garden in New York with Laurence Harvey walking between vast rows of vacant seats and arriving at the booth high up in the arena. The rest of the sequence was filmed in the far smaller Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles with tight shots of crowds at the fictional convention, edited together to give the impression that the original location was now filled with thousands of people. See more »
As Raymond Shaw descends the stairs to enter Jilly's Bar, the camera and crew can be seen reflected in the plate glass door. See more »
Senator Iselen is not my father. Repeat: he is not my father. If you learn nothing else on your visit to this country, memorize that fact.
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Manchurian Candidate is, quite simply, the best political thriller of all time. I can't think of another that keeps me on the edge of my seat, even on the tenth viewing. The incredible script, Angela Lansbury's Dearest Mommy, the effective use of black & white film for a movie about issues that were anything but black & white--I could go on and on.
I know that most people rave about Ms. Lansbury above all the other cast members, but--for me--Frank Sinatra wins the prize hands down. His disbelief, and then his disillusionment, and then his despair are perfectly portrayed. There were really two Sinatras, the singer AND the great actor.
In watching The Manchurian Candidate again and again, I never cease to be amazed at its prescient theme, the danger of the combination of fanaticism and patriotic fervor. Goldwater's famous quote comes to mind, "Extremism in the defense of virtue is no vice". In my opinion, this film just gets better with age.
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