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The Manchurian Candidate


Roger Davidson

Manchurian Candidate, The
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One of the most influential films of the 1960's, this is also one of the greatest examples of the political paranoia at this time. It introduces us to a Korean war hero (Laurence Harvey), who has been brainwashed by the communists to commit unspeakable acts of murder. It also deals with the investigation by Harvey's commanding officer (Frank Sinatra), who has his suspicions on how exactly Harvey became a hero in the first place. But wait! There is a third part to the story. It deals with Harvey's ambitious mother (Angela Lansbury), and her attempts to bring her Joseph McCarthy-type husband to power.

It is certainly a fine political thriller, with excellent performances by Harvey, Sinatra and a chilling role for Lansbury. It also has some astounding visuals and top-drawer direction. The problem is in the story. The dated material makes much of the film seem like anti-communist propaganda. There is also an embarrassingly stupid karate action sequence, which distracts from, rather than heighten the action of the film. Because of this, the movie is a fine piece of cinema, but not the masterpiece many make it out to be.

My Rating = Three Stars

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