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
In spite of his reputation, Frank Sinatra turned out to be, for the most part, a hard worker and pleasant and cooperative on the set. Writer, Producer, and Director John Frankenheimer called him "one of the most charming human beings I have ever met." Janet Leigh was friends with Sinatra before filming began, but still nervous about stories she heard from others who worked with him. She found him to be "a caring, giving actor, willing to rehearse indefinitely, taking direction, contributing ideas to the whole." Writer and Producer George Axelrod said he was "a dream to work with" and called him "one of the best screen actors in the world...lyrically sensitive...magic." Most people agreed that Sinatra's attitude could be attributed largely to the fact that he had tremendous respect for his director and enthusiasm for the project. 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 »
[the presidential nominee is making his acceptance speech while Raymond Shaw has his sniper-rifle aimed at him]
Benjamin K. Arthur:
...Nor would I ask of any fellow American in defense of his freedom that which I would not gladly give myself - my life before my liberty!
[the audience begins clapping and cheering as Raymond Shaw moves his sniper-rifle towards Senator Iselin and shoots him in the forehead, killing him instantly. He then shoots his mother in the head, killing her instantly]
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The closing credits specify, "Released thru United Artists". This uses an informal spelling of the standard "through". See more »
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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