The Manchurian Candidate

The story goes that without John F. Kennedy's personal intervention, at Frank Sinatra's request, the The Manchurian Candidate would have never been financed as a film. The film was pulled from wide distribution -- allegedly at Sinatra's insistence -- following a similar train of events in the real-life assassination of Kennedy. While the background machinizations of Kennedy's end are still speculated on, the fully-revealed plot intricacies of The Manchurian Candidate leave me in silent amazement.John Frankenheimer's political thriller features a brainwashed set of Korean soldiers, one of whom has been so mesmerized he does not even realize he's now a Communist assassin. Lawrence Harvey's performance as the "unlovable" Raymond Shaw is wrenching to watch. His final tragic arc, where you believe is somehow aware of the crushing murders he has just committed though powerless to stop himself, is hard to take. His final solution, enabled by Sinatra's beleagured intelligence officer who was just a little too late, is one of my favorite endings of all time.

I have not seen the "updated" version, because there are some films I don't think need to be updated. The Manchurian Candidate is still an iconic achievement.


Hackett said...

Run, screaming, from the remake. I saw it against my better judgement and regret it to this day. Interesting at best on its own, terrible by comparison. Only Ocean's 11 is a bigger disappointment. I don't gravitate toward movies from this era, but Man Can, O's 11, and 3rd Man remain in my top 10 favorite movie endings.

Jaquandor said...

I tried debating with myself once as to which film had the better Sinatra performance -- Manchurian Candidate or From Here to Eternity. I gave up after my head exploded.