Posted on 10/18/12 11:21 AM
The Manchurian Candidate may be the greatest movie I've ever seen, and I'm prompted to review it due to its rating in newspapers of 3 and-a-half out of 4 stars. That's simply unsatisfactory, so I'll do my best to justify a perfect score. Maybe most significant for me, the brainwashing plot in which the far right becomes a tool of the far left, was utterly fantastic yet made to be believable in 1962 and remains so today. Though the cold war is long over, The Manchurian Candidate remains fresh, vibrant, and relevant in today's geopolitical world. The performances by Angela Lansbury, Laurence Harvey, and Frank Sinatra are some of the most riveting ever, particularly Lansbury's. She must be the most evil mother in cinematic history. Its a nightmare fantasy, shared in the movie by Sinatra's character and fellow soldier James Edwards' Corporal Melvin, which nearly succeeds in in a communist coup d'état in America.
The movie lampoons McCarthyism, displaying a wry humor, while ramping up the dramatic tension to a terrific climax. The comedy is supplied by James Gregory as the cartoonish husband/senator John Iselin and the KGB operative in New York. His interaction with the Chinese doctor is priceless. There's nothing funny about Lansbury's mother character or Harvey's Raymond Shaw, who is transformed into a brutally efficient killing machine. Sinatra, though as Maj.Marco, is the glue who holds the story together. In my opinion, this is his finest acting role. As a side note, in the karate fight between Sinatra and Henry Silva, Sinatra broke his hand leading to years of complications. Flawless in every aspect, The Manchurian Candidate sets the standard for political drama.