The Manchurian Candidate (1962)


(out of 5)

Having returned from service in the Korean War, is plagued by bad dreams in which he sees his former war buddy being brainwashed into becoming a killing machine for the Soviets.  Convinced that his dreams are more than just fantasies, Sinatra goes to Washington where Shaw is being groomed to achieve political success by his staunchly conservative mother (, in a deadly good performance), wife to a presidential hopeful whom she leads around by the nose.  The results of what Sinatra and Shaw discover about their time in the war are both a hilarious parody on the kind of paranoia that swept America during the Red Scare and the makings of a genuinely pulse-pounding thriller with gritty violence and plenty to say about the corruption of American politics.  Director John Frankenheimer, making what is likely his best film, balances the serious thrills with subtle hilarity to absolute perfection, and brings terrific performances out of the entire cast. appears as Sinatra’s love interest, and while her role is rarely more useful than to be a listener to his problems, the film benefits greatly from having her charisma.

USA, 1962

Directed by

Screenplay by , based on the novel by

Cinematography by

Produced by George Axelrod, John Frankenheimer

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

The Criterion Collection

Cast Tags:   , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Academy Award Nominations
Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Angela Lansbury as “Raymond’s Mother”)
Best Film Editing (Ferris Webster)

Golden Globe Award
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Angela Lansbury)

Best Director (John Frankenheimer)

National Board Of Review Award
Best Supporting Actress (Angela Lansbury)

Directors Guild Award Nomination
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (John Frankenheimer)

British Academy Award Nomination
Best Film From Any Source



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