Major Bennett 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 received the Medal of Honor. Marco has a major problem however: he has a recurring nightmare, one where two members of his squad were killed by Shaw. He's put on indefinite sick leave and visits Shaw in New York City. Shaw, for his part. has established himself well, despite the misgivings of his domineering mother, Mrs. Eleanor Shaw Iselin (Dame 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 stepfather, 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 had nightmares similar to his own, he realizes that something happened to all of ...Written by
Frank Sinatra broke the little finger of his right hand on the desk in the fight sequence with Henry Silva. Due to on-going filming commitments, he could not rest or bandage his hand properly, causing the injury to heal incorrectly. It caused him chronic discomfort for the rest of his life. See more »
When Major Marco reads two Medal of Honor citations at the end of the movie - from the book The Compact History of the United States Army - they seem to match two World War I recipients (Daniel R. Edwards and Nelson M. Holderman) but are not the real medal citations. See more »
Sen. John Yerkes Iselin:
There's just one thing, babe. I'd be a lot happier if we could just settle on the number of Communists I know there are in the Defense Department. I mean, the way you keep changing the figures on me all the time, it makes me look like some kind of a nut, like... like an idiot.
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The West German version was edited (ca. 4 minutes) to remove every scene with the ladies in the greenhouse. This version was also released on DVD. In 2005 the uncut version (with subtitles for the missing scenes) was shown on Arte. Only in 2020 was the complete version released on Blu-ray/DVD. See more »
I went into "The Manchurian Candidate" without knowing too much about the movie itself. I knew about its critical acclaim, but I was unfamiliar with the plot. Regardless, when I rented and watched the film, I had high expectations. I was not disappointed either.
The plot revolves around the strange case of Raymond Shaw, a sergeant who wins the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery in the cold war. Two of the men in his company, however, have strange nightmares that suggest Raymond is not as deserving of the award as he seems. One of these men, Major Bennet Marco, led on by these recurring nightmares, unravels a sinister Communist plot. Set against the cold war paranoia of the sixties and McCarthyism, "The Manchurian Candidate" does an excellent job of recreating the intense suspense and tension of the time.
The acting in this film is superb. A great script is heightened by excellent acting in this movie. It's hard not to like Frank Sinatra in his role as Marco, who is the protagonist. Laurence Harvey as Raymond does a good job showing us a character that is wholly unlikable and snobby, yet pathetic and sad at the same time. And of course, Angela Lansbury in her role as Raymond's malicious and plotting mother is excellent.
Some stand-out scenes in the film were the nightmare sequences that brilliantly interlaced dream and reality, the all-queen solitaire game with Marco and Raymond, and the supremely tense climax at the political convention. The cinematography in the movie was very well done as action, romance, and tension all mixed together smoothly. All the scenes managed to keep my attention and kept me wondering what was going to happen next. As a thriller, the film works remarkably well, and it is quite easily the best political thriller I've seen to date.
Keeping me from giving the movie a perfect ten are one or two little nagging problems. I wasn't a big fan of the music for the movie, and it even disrupted the mood for me at one point in the film. It was okay, just not great. Also, the whole plot is sort of unlikely. I wont go into it here, but I don't think that the Communist plan for world domination would fall into the hands of one relatively uncontrolled person, no matter how well trained his mind was. That's just my opinion, however.
The movie is sort of long, and isn't exactly action packed, but it is very interesting, insightful, and even chilling. I had a great time watching it, and I definitely recommend it if you are interested at all in seeing a gripping Cold War era political thriller. Besides, the cultural relevance of the film alone is enough to see it.
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