I will go out on a limb to say The Manchurian Candidate is one of the greatest political thrillers ever made. The plot, the cast, the directing, the script (written by the amazingly talented George Axelrod who also wrote The Lady Vanishes and Breakfast at Tiffany’s), everything about this film is done exceptionally well.
I honestly had no idea this movie existed until the wonderful staff of I Love Video in Austin, TX told me about it. I had just finished watching Ocean’s Eleven (the original) for the first time and I wanted another fix of Frank Sinatra. The dude behind the counter talked up this movie like it was his job (as I guess it was), so I rented it and my mind proceeded to be blown. Side note: this was not the first nor the last time that the I Love Video changed my life, so thank you, I Love Video!
Frank Sinatra plays Major Bennett Marco, a Korean War Veteran who begins to have recurring vivid nightmares involving Sergeant Raymond Shaw (played by Laurence Harvey), a decorated war hero he toured with. He’s not quite sure if these nightmares are based on past occurrences or if his mind is playing tricks on him so he heads to New York to confront Shaw about the events that may or may not have occurred. What he uncovers is something far more disturbing than he ever imagined.
One of the main reasons this movie is so badass is the creepy, domineering, mentally unhinged and all-around evil Mrs. Eleanor Shaw Iselin (fantastically played by Angela Lansbury, best known as the sweet mystery-solving senior citizen in Murder She Wrote). I consider this character one of the greatest villains of all time.
This is an edge of your seat film that never disappoints. Do yourself a favor and have a gander.