Watched: January 22 2019

Director: John Frankenheimer

Starring: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Henry Silva, James Gregory, Leslie Parrish, John McGiver

Year: 1962

Runtime: 2h 06min

Manchurian

Source

Korea, 1952. A patrol is ambushed and taken prisoner. When they return to the US, generally despised Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Harvey), who’s cursed with a busybody mother (Lansbury) and a fanatic senator stepfather (Gregory), is awarded Medal of Honor. The medal is given to him based on the testimony of his fellow soldiers, who cannot say enough good things about him, although they are unsure why.

Candidate2
“We just really respect the way he used to break up our parties with local prostitutes”

Source

Meanwhile, a few members of the same patrol, including Major Bennett Marco (Sinatra), are troubled by nightmares in which the celebrated Sergeant kills two fellow soldiers on the command of a bunch of ladies talking about agriculture and occasionally morphing into communist leaders.

Candidate3
“Welcome to my talk on how to make blossoming gardens and sleeper agents. I’m very happy to see so many morphing faces here today.”

Source

Marco’s fears are dismissed by the military, and he is eventually placed on sick leave. He meets Eugenie (Leigh) on a train, and she becomes his support system as he tries to make sense of what actually happened in Korea.

Candidate4
She is witty and fantastic, but also insanely reckless. Who talks to an unknown man who’s clearly having some sort of breakdown, and after three minutes decides to give him all her personal details?

Source

Marco’s suspicion is that Shaw, and the rest of the patrol, are all brainwashed and returned to the USA to carry out some sort of plot. But what exactly is Shaw’s mission? Who is his local handler? And will they have any chance of stopping whatever it is in time?

Candidate5
And will Shaw ever get out from under the thumb of his controlling mother?

Source

The Manchurian Candidate is a tense and compelling thriller which keeps going off in unexpected directions. We loved the horticulture talk the soldiers imagined, and the cross cutting between their perception of it and the reality.

Candidate6
Pictured: The Annual Women’s Society Lecture on Communist Leaders

Source

We also loved how the different soldiers saw this scene differently – the black soldier seeing a room filled with black women, etc. Now, the plot is perhaps a bit far-fetched, but in the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the aftermath of McCarthyism, we’re sure it hit all the right buttons.

Candidate7
Right down to the fear-mongering senator

Source

We found Frank Sinatra to be a surprisingly good actor, and we loved Angela Lansbury: her character could have snatched the “World’s Greatest Mother” trophy right from the cold, dead hands of Mrs Bates

Candidate8
Surprisingly good actor or not, Frank Sinatra’s card playing skills were clearly below par

Source

We’ll never play solitaire again! Or go to gardening meetings.

What we learned: Beware the red queen! Also, what’s with all these guys meeting cool, interesting, witty women on trains?

Next time: Vivre sa Vie (1962)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s