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A classic blend of satire and political thriller that was uncomfortably prescient in its own time, The Manchurian Candidate remains distressingly relevant today. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Near the end of the Korean War, a platoon of U.S. soldiers is captured by communists and brainwashed. Following the war, the platoon is returned home, and Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) is lauded as a hero by the rest of his platoon. However, the platoon commander, Captain Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra), finds himself plagued by strange nightmares and, together with fellow soldier Allen Melvin (James Edwards), races to uncover a terrible plot.

Cast & Crew

Frank Sinatra
Major Bennett Marco
Laurence Harvey
Raymond Shaw
Janet Leigh
Eugenie Rose Chaney
James Gregory
Senator John Yerkes Iselin
Leslie Parrish
Jocelyn Jordan
John McGiver
Senator Thomas Jordan
Khigh Dhiegh
Dr. Yen Lo
James Edwards
Corporal Allen Melvin
Howard W. Koch
Executive Producer
George Axelrod
Screenwriter
David Amram
Original Music
Lionel Lindon
Cinematographer
Richard Sylbert
Production Design
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News & Interviews for The Manchurian Candidate

Critic Reviews for The Manchurian Candidate

All Critics (60) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (58) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for The Manchurian Candidate

  • Dec 05, 2016
    The film's concept sounds like outrageous Cold War propaganda but in execution it's a thoroughly surreal and cynical thriller that has very little to do with political or patriotic ideology. Further proof of Frankenheimer's underated brilliance.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 28, 2016
    Warning, this review contains spoilers, and if you've never seen the film before, you should definitely watch it without knowing anything first, for maximum enjoyment. :) With that out of the way ... fantastic performances by both Angela Lansbury and Frank Sinatra, great direction by John Frankenheimer, and an excellent plot all make this a film that is still highly enjoyable today. In a nutshell, American soldiers in the Korean War are captured and subjected to sophisticated brainwashing by Russian and Chinese communists, and one of them is programmed to carry out assassinations back in America. Frank Sinatra plays one of the soldiers who has recurring nightmares about the brainwashing, and the sequence where Frankenheimer shows them thinking they're at a meeting at a lady's club talking about flowers, which seems very odd at first, and spins the camera around to gradually show us the horrifying reality of their predicament, and just how controlled they are, is absolutely fantastic. We come to understand the assassin's trigger, the queen of diamonds when told to play solitaire, which is a wonderfully chilling concept, and I loved how the story included a false trigger at a costume party. Angela Lansbury's character evolves over the film, from over-bearing mother and wife, the brains behind her Senator husband's McCarthyism, to the mastermind behind the whole conspiracy - and how this is revealed is as great as her performance. The movie keeps us guessing, perhaps as those swept up in fear of communism guessed at what may be happening around them in their paranoia, and an example of this is Janet Leigh's offbeat dialog with Sinatra when she first meets him on a train. It immediately seems to us as code and a way of controlling him in some way, but it's also flirtatious, and we're left wondering what her role will be. Brilliant as it is, from my perspective, the movie has one major flaw. Frankenheimer was happy to show the dangers of McCarthyism and even commented on this in interviews, and yet there WAS a communist plot to overthrow the government, and there WAS unsuspected (and very dangerous) communist infiltration. So at the end of the day, what was the message - that McCarthy was right? I don't think it's right to explain this away as satire of both the right and the left, because I don't see the movie as satire, I see it as a political thriller - but it is a very good one at that.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 09, 2013
    "The Manchurian Candidate" is a film of great performances, fluid black-and-white cinematography and able direction from the always reliable John Frankenheimer. It's smart, startling and wickedly relevant, and Angela Lansbury's Mrs. Iselin is one of the great movie villains.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Dec 05, 2012
    Not my cup of tea, classic-movie wise.
    Saskia D Super Reviewer

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