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The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Approved | | Drama, Thriller | 24 October 1962 (USA)
A former prisoner of war is brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy.



(based upon a novel by), (screenplay)
3,521 ( 36)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 6 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 (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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


If you come in five minutes after this picture begins, you won't know what it's all about! When you've seen it all, you'll swear there's never been anything like it! See more »


Drama | Thriller


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



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
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Did You Know?


It took a full week to film the opening dream sequence. Director John Frankenheimer rushed a rough edit of the sequence to Frank Sinatra, then decided to keep the cut in the final movie unchanged. See more »


When Dr. Yen Lo makes his little "yak dung" joke he parodies the famous Winston cigarettes advertising jingle that it "tastes good like a cigarette should". This product and slogan weren't introduced until 1954, a year after the war ended. The novel had the same error. See more »


Sen. John Yerkes Iselin: No evasions, Mister Secretary, no evasions if you please.
Secretary of Defense: Evasions? What the hell are you talking about?
Secretary of Defense: [whispering to Marco] What the hell is this nonsense?
Marco: [covering the microphones] Mister Secretary, I'm kind of new at this job, but I don't think it's good public relations to speak that way to a US Senator, even if he is an idiot.
Sen. John Yerkes Iselin: I am United States Senator John Yerkes Iselin, and I have here a list of two hundred seven persons who are known by the Secretary of Defense as being members of the...
See more »


Referenced in Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin: Part Two (1976) See more »


The Star-Spangled Banner
(1814) (uncredited)
Music based on "The Anacreontic Song" by John Stafford Smith
Lyrics by Francis Scott Key
Sung by Marquita Moll at the convention
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A political and social thriller/drama ahead of its time.
20 August 2001 | by (Chicago, USA) – See all my reviews

John Frankenheimer's surrealistic direction and George Axelrod's adaptation of the 1959 book by the same name offer Laurence Harvey a career defining role.

Set in 1950's, A Korean War veteran Raymond Shaw(Harvey) returns home to a medal of honor for rescuing his POW platoon from behind Chinese lines and back to safety. One of the returning soldiers, (played effectively by Frank Sinatra) however, has recurring dreams of his platoon being brainwashed and Shaw committing acts of murder.

He eventually convinces army brass that Shaw is still a puppet of his Communist-Marxist operators.

Angela Lansbury, (although barely a few years older than Harvey was at the time) plays his mother in a tour de force role. She absolutely captivates and steals every scene she is in, playing a very complex role that needs to convince the viewer of many things without much dialogue.

There's a rich cast of characters, including Janet Leigh, Henry Silva, James Edwards, and a painfully accurate James Gregory. Each character weaves through the methodical subplots and tapestry of Frankenheimer's masterful "Hitchcockian" pace.

I won't give away the plot, but dear readers, allow me to sat that this one is really worth watching--until the nail-biting and chilling conclusion.

There are many undertones in this film -- political, sexual, class and power, and social. You will want to view this film several times to approach it from different perspectives.

105 of 123 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Why can't they have a real Asian actor instead of Mr. Silva? Oak Owl
How do the communists get the mother? gabrielmestieri
Do Johnny + Mrs. Iselin remind you of anyone? Bob_Schuka
You're a Communist if you Disagree technotrone
Frank Sinatra vs Henry Silva apartment fight lampooned in Clouseau movi? jayrussell1993
Too Many Flaws To Be a Great Movie brianoh2
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