Film Comment - 11/01/1987
"...It looked good then; it looks even better now....[Sinatra] is extremely moving..."
Los Angeles Times - 01/12/1988
"...THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE proves that its fascination is intact..."
Total Film - 01/01/2001
"...Easily the best and most complex of all Cold War thrillers..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 12/07/2003
"THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE feels astonishingly contemporary; its astringent political satire still bites, and its story has uncanny contemporary echoes."
Rolling Stone - 08/05/2004
"Frank Sinatra excels as a Korean war vet....And Angela Lansbury is a marvel..."
Description by OLDIES.com:
Eerie, shocking, daring, thrilling and mesmerizing, The Manchurian Candidate "will leave you breathless" (People)! Featuring an all-star cast, including Angela Lansbury in an Oscar-nominated performance, this "chilling and controversial" (Leonard Maltin) film "may be the most sophisticated political satire ever made" (Pauline Kael).
When a platoon of Korean War G.I.s is captured, they somehow end up at a ladies' garden club party. Or do they? Major Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) can't remember. As he searches for the answer, he discovers threads of a diabolical plot orchestrated by the utterly ruthless Mrs. Iselin (Lansbury) and involving her war hero son (Laurence Harvey), her senator husband (James Gregory) and a secret cabal of enemy leaders.
John Frankenheimer's brilliant adaptation of Richard Condon's Cold-War satire, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE is the director's best film, both a coruscating thriller and a razor-sharp satire of political hysteria that captures the turbulent mood of the 1960s. Packed with sly details, such as the liberal senator "bleeding" milk when he's shot, the film demands repeated viewings.
Laurence Harvey stars as Sergeant Raymond Shaw, whose U.S. army unit is captured while fighting in Korea, taken to Manchuria, and brainwashed by Chinese communists. The men return to the U.S. with no conscious memory of their experience, and Shaw is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery. But when Captain Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) starts having nightmares, he begins an authorized investigation into what happened in Manchuria and eventually reveals that the sergeant's brainwashing has transformed him into an unconscious assassin who can be triggered by his communist controllers at will. Although Sinatra is slightly miscast as a tortured intellectual, Harvey and the remaining cast are excellent, as is Richard Sylbert's inventively designed "brainwashing" sequence, Lionel Lindon's extraordinary depth-of-field camerawork, and David Amram's witty, neoclassical score.
Based On A Novel |
Essential Cinema |
Theatrical Release |
Theatrical release: October 24, 1962.
Shooting locations: Los Angeles and New York City.
The film was tied up for 25 years in a legal dispute between United Artists and Frank Sinatra, who believed the film's profits were being underreported.
THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1994.
THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE is number 67 on the American Film Institute's list of America's 100 Greatest Movies.
Frank Sinatra wanted Lucille Ball in the mother role played by Angela Lansbury.