This weeks challenge from Rob isDirector: John Frankenheimer
Writer: George Axelrod (Screenplay) Richard Condon (Novel)
Starring: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Henry Silva, James Gregory
Plot: A former Korean War POW is brainwashed by Communists into becoming a political assassin. But another former prisoner may know how to save him.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Dated & Slow
Story: The Manchurian Candidate starts when Raymond Shaw (Harvey) returns from the Korean war as a hero getting one of the few medal of honours. His mother Eleanor (Lansbury) and step father Senator Iselin (Gregory) use his new fame to help the Senator’s campaign for re-election.
We meet Major Marco (Sinatra) who is having nightmares about Raymond Shaw and the rest of his unit and wants to get to the bottom of it all. As Major Marco’s paranoia continues to grow he starts to think he might have been part of a mind control experiment and Shaw isn’t who the world sees.
The Manchurian Candidate is a very low moving story that has been built into a real conspiracy theory being from around. I do feel this is only the stepping stones to the idea and in the modern world it would be a lot easier to cover this up. We are left to basically deal with one man being pushed hypnotised into making the next President by taking out the people who stand in his way. It’s all interesting but this just goes too slowly to pull you right in.
Frank Sinatra: Major Bennett Marco is the man who lead the unit with Raymond Shaw in, he is plagued by nightmares about what potentially happened with mind control. He tries to investigate what could have happened and what he finds will change American history forever. Frank gives us a good performance but you do feel like there could have been a higher intensity to his character.
Laurence Harvey: Raymond Shaw is the war hero, returning with the Medal of Honour, but he is really just being placed in a position to help the Government to unleash their undercover assassin. Laurence does a good job in this role where he looks the part as the everyday good guy.
Janet Leigh: Eugenie Rose Chaney is the stranger on the train that meets Bennett and seems to understand what he is going through as well as opening the doors for a romantic angle. Janet is in the film but doesn’t get much screen time.
Angela Lansbury: Mrs Eleanor Shaw Iselin is the mother of Raymond who is controlling her husband Senator to uncover the communism going on with in the US government. Angela is the star of the show as the manipulative woman trying to elect the next President.
Henry Silva: Chunjin is the translator that worked with the unit in the past and gets placed with Shaw to protect the asset, he instantly clashes with Bennett. Henry has a good fight scene but is never used enough for my liking.
Support Cast: The Manchurian Candidate has a supporting cast that includes the other players in the Presidential race but none get the screen time required.
Director Review: John Frankenheimer – John bought us a good thriller for the time but due to increased use of technology it almost feels dated now.
Thriller: The Manchurian Candidate does keep you guessing but never puts you on the edge of your seat.
Settings: The Manchurian Candidate has the settings you would expect to see these characters in which does help with the film but nothing really stands out.
Suggestion: The Manchurian Candidate is one to try and is one if you like the classic film you would enjoy otherwise you will find it slow. (Classic Film Fans)
Best Part: The idea.
Worst Part: It has dated.
Believability: Depends what you believe in the conspiracy.
Chances of Tears: No
Chances of Sequel: No
Post Credits Scene: No
Oscar Chances: Nominated for 2 Oscars
Budget: $2.2 Million
Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes
Tagline: Once unbelievable. Now unthinkable.
Trivia: According to Howard W. Koch, the budget was $2,200,000. Of that amount $1,000,000 went for star Frank Sinatra’s salary with another $200,000 for Laurence Harvey, leaving only $1,000,000 for everything else.
Overall: A great idea that is a film that could be a brilliant television show now