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THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE

Director: JOHN FRANKENHEIMER

126 minutes| U.S.A.| 1962| Black and White| 35mm


Ahead of its time, bypassing an era of protest and prophetically plunging into a whirlpool of political paranoia, this is the mother of all modern conspiracy thrillers.
Laurence Harvey plays a Korean War hero who has been secretly captured and brainwashed by his enemies and returned to America as a trained assassin: but for what purpose? His commanding officer (Frank Sinatra) is having nightmares and suspects imminent disaster, particularly as Harvey is the son of a rabidly ambitious mother (Angela Lansbury) and the stepson of a buffoonish but worryingly populist Senator (James Gregory) with more than a passing resemblance to McCarthy. The thematic and visual audacity of the film is breath-taking, not least for its bracing black humour (for example, the shooting of a liberal politician who leaks milk, not blood), and time has not dimmed the exceptional quality of its acting, writing, direction and editing, nor its warnings about media manipulation and political extremism. A satirical, surrealist, suspenseful masterpiece. (Notes by Neil Sinyard).

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