The Manchurian Candidate (1962)



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

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A U.S. Army hero returns to New York from Korea, but has been mysteriously programmed by Communists to assassinate a presidential nominee, but when his Army buddy becomes suspicious of the goings on, he is on the trail to stop him.
PG-13 (Previously rated in (62))
Classics , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
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Laurence Harvey
as Raymond Shaw
Frank Sinatra
as Bennett Marco
Angela Lansbury
as Raymond's Mother
James Gregory
as Sen. John Iselin
Janet Leigh
as Rosie
Henry Silva
as Chunjim
Leslie Parrish
as Jocie Jordon
John McGiver
as Sen. Thomas Jordon
Khigh Dhiegh
as Yen Lo
James Edwards
as Cpl. Melvin
Barry Kelley
as Secretary of Defense
Lloyd Corrigan
as Holborn Gaines
Madame Spivy
as Berezovo's Lady Counterpart
Joe Adams
as Psychiatrist
Whit Bissell
as Medical Officer
Mimi Dillard
as Melvin's Wife
John Lawrence
as Gossfeld
Tom Lowell
as Lembeck
Nicky Blair
as Silvers
John Francis
as Haiken
Robert Riordan
as Nominee
Harry Holcombe
as General
Miyoshi Jingu
as Miss Gertrude
Anna Shin
as Korean Girl
Bess Flowers
as Gomel's Lady Counterpart
Helen Kleeb
as Chairlady
Maye Henderson
as Chairlady
Mickey Finn
as Reporter
Richard Norris
as Reporter
John Indrisano
as Reporter
Lou Krugg
as Manager
Mike Masters
as FBI Man
Tom Harris
as FBI Man
Mariquita Moll
as Soprano
Robert Burton
as Convention Chairman
Karen Norris
as Secretary
Jean Vaughn
as Nurse
Ray Spiker
as Policeman
Frank Basso
as Photographer
Julie Payne
as Guest at Party
Lana Crawford
as Guest at Party
Evelyn Byrd
as Guest at Party
Ray Dailey
as Page Boy
Estelle Etterre
as People in Hotel Lobby
Mary Benoit
as People in Hotel Lobby
Rita Kenaston
as People in Hotel Lobby
Maggie Hathaway
as People in Hotel Lobby
Joan Douglas
as People in Hotel Lobby
Frances E. Nealy
as Woman in Lobby
Ralph Gambina
as People in Hotel Lobby
Sam 'Kid' Hogan
as People in Hotel Lobby
James Yagi
as Chinese Men in Hotel Lobby
Lee Tung Foo
as Chinese Men in Hotel Lobby
Raynum K. Tsukamoto
as Chinese Men in Hotel Lobby
Nick Bolin
as Berezovo
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Critic Reviews for The Manchurian Candidate

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (7)

powerful experience, alternately corrosive with dark parodic humor, suspenseful, moving, and terrifying.

Full Review… | May 7, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Every once in a rare while a film comes along that works in all departments, with story, production and performance so well blended that the end effect is one of nearly complete satisfaction. Such is The Manchurian Candidate.

Full Review… | May 7, 2008
Top Critic

A masterpiece.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The Manchurian Candidate pops up with a rash supposition that could serve to scare some viewers half to death -- that is, if they should be dupes enough to believe it, which we solemnly trust they won't.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Has an excoriating, destabilizing wit that seems as knowingly sophisticated today as it must have then.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

Its story of Cold War intrigue, murky East-West dealings, assassination, brainwashing -- and the idea of a glorified cue-card reader playing president -- resonates today like never before.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Manchurian Candidate

Beyond its subject matter this terse political thriller still holds up even fifty years later, surrounded in secrecy, with some outstanding and unparalleled performances. Set in the midst of the Cold War, this film is much less about the political and sociological aspects of its infamy and much more about the contemplative and cruel nature of an overseer in control of a single man. Instead of being about the threat of the "Oriental" this film delves into the political thrills of mind control, brainwashing, and assassination. A contingent of soldiers in the Korean War is captured by the enemy, and one of their leaders is made into a ticking time bomb. The rest of the soldiers are also brainwashed, and as their training comes back to them in a series of horrific dreams the threat from zombified Shaw (Harvey) becomes ever present. Shaw is lauded as a war hero, but his commanding officer Marco (Sinatra) knows the truth, and though he can't confront the ticking time bomb, he knows how powerful and dangerous he is. For a film made before Watergate it expertly addresses government intervention, conspiracies, and the threat overseas. That is also not to say that there isn't any Cold War paranoia attributed to this iconic film, but it's much more about the relationships that are built around Shaw, and how the bossy commanding officer eventually thaws under his nosy mother's gaze; and in memory of his former love. Both he and Marco try to foil the plan to use him as a weapon, but the film is more about Shaw pushing against his fate and finally being happy, and the conniving evil wrong doings of his mother. His mother, by the way, is played by Angela Lansbury, at the time only six years older than Laurence Harvey. In this role Lansbury plays the most diabolical, politically conniving villain in film history, and she is completely unapologetic about her crimes against the government, and even her own son, who she uses as a pawn in her elaborate game of political chess. Not only does this film address Cold War tensions, but also speaks on McCarthyism just ten years prior and on the type of people who would make such baseless accusations. This film is not only a timely political thriller but also a satire on our history and the bonds of anti-Communist propaganda that landed the US into the Cold War in the first place, a risky choice in a time when tensions were high.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

Not my cup of tea, classic-movie wise.

Saskia D.
Saskia D.

Super Reviewer

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.

Clintus Maximus
Clintus Maximus

Super Reviewer

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