When Major Marco (Frank Sinatra) returns from service in Korea, he is haunted by a recurring dream in which Congressional Medal of Honor hero Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) appears to kill two of his unit in front of an audience of Korean and Russian officials. Working for Intelligence, Marco eventually discovers that Shaw has become the unwitting pawn in a Communist conspiracy to kill an American presidential candidate. However, discovering this is one thing, the question is whether he can be stopped in time? This acclaimed satirical thriller was withdrawn from release by Sinatra after the assassination of President Kennedy and only became available again years later.
You will never find a more chillingly suspenseful, perversely funny, or viciously satirical political thriller than The Manchurian Candidate
, based on the novel by Richard Condon (author of Winter Kills
). The film, withheld from distribution by star Frank Sinatra for almost a quarter-century after President Kennedy's assassination, has lost none of its potency over time. Former infantryman Bennet Marco (Sinatra) is haunted by nightmares about his platoon having been captured and brainwashed in Korea. The indecipherable dreams seem to centre on Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), a decorated war hero but a cold fish of a man whose own mother (Angela Lansbury, in one of the all-time great dragon-lady roles) describes him as looking like his head is "always about to come to a point". Mrs Bates has nothing on Lansbury's character, the manipulative queen behind her second husband, Senator John Iselin (James Gregory), a notoriously McCarthyesque demagogue. --Jim Emerson