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
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 »
One of the big surprises about "The Manchurian Candidate" is Angela Lansbury in a villainous role. Between "Murder, She Wrote" and her work for Disney, you can't help but entertain a kindly image of the actor.
The other surprise is how potent this still is, even at the 55 year mark. Maybe that's because I lobe '70s movies of the genre, but even still, this is a highly effective political thriller. And that's due in large part to Frankenheimer's skilled direction and a script full of inventive deceit. It even has plenty of time to skewer McCarthyism. Almost everything seen here has been done since, but you're still left unprepared for that one last plot twist. Well-executed, to say the least.
The cast is star-studded, the story's engrossing and there's almost a playful sense of humor to it.
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