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
This movie said there were seventy-seven Medal of Honor recipients for the Korean War. As of 2019, there are one hundred forty-five, of which one hundred three were awarded posthumously. See more »
When Marco and Rosie are talking on the train, there is no train noise to be heard. Obviously, this scene was not shot on a moving train. See more »
[Shaw has been conditioned to obey when seeing the queen of diamonds; Marco has brought a special deck of all queens of diamonds]
They can make me do anything, Ben, can't they? Anything.
We'll see, kid. We'll see what they can do and we'll see what we can do. So the red queen is our baby. Well, take a look at this, kid...
[fans deck and keeps holding up the cards]
52 of them! Take a good look at 'em, Raymond, look at 'em, and while you're looking, listen. This is me, Marco, talking. 52 red queens ...
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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 »
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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