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
You can see the countryside passing by outside the train window. It's obvious that the actors are not really being filmed on a moving train, but the footage of the moving landscape was shot at an angle. So the camera that's aimed directly towards the window depicts a landscape that's bizarrely moving away from the train on an angle. See more »
I remember... I remember. I can see that Chinese cat standing there and smiling like Fu Manchu saying: The Queen of Diamonds is reminiscent in many ways of Raymond's dearly loved and hated mother... and is the second key to clear the mechanism for any other assignment.
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The live TV cameras in the senate hearing and press conference carry the NBC logo used at the time the film was made, not the logo used at the time the story takes place. See more »
West German version was edited (ca. 4 minutes) to remove every scene with the ladies in the greenhouse. To this day all home video releases contain the cut version. An uncut version (with subtitles for the missing scenes) was shown on Arte. See more »
There are parts of The Manchurian Candidate that are so perceptive and prophetic that it can be shocking. The satire of political campaigns and the influence of political wives feels very fresh. The film is also an excellent spy thriller and foretells the many political assassinations in the 60's. There are many fine performances in the film and Angela Lansbury plays one of the best film villains I have seen. Also, the directing, cinematography and editing are terrific.
My problems with the film mainly stem from its dialogue. The script repeats lines from the book the film was based upon. The result is that the actor's lines are very often stilted and not believable. Other less important problems involve Lawrence Harvey who while he gives a fine performance needed a dialogue coach. He begins the film with an American accent and slowly takes on a English one. The Janet Leigh character is also troubling. It seems she is a Soviet agent but this is not explained. Her character is too subtle and clashes with the very straight forward presentation of the rest of the film.
The flaws of The Manchurian Candidate would sink a lesser film. But when this movie hits its stride it is so powerful that it rises above its drawbacks and remains a classic spy thriller.
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