The Manchurian Candidate (1962) - Drama, Thriller

Hohum Score



A former prisoner of war is brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy.

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey
Length: 126 Minutes
PG Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 26 out of 316 found boring (8.22%)

One-line Reviews (182)

The film's pessimistic view of American politics and unexpected satire of the presidential campaign trail were years ahead of their time, and the baroque styling (stark lighting, oblique camera angles) still makes it look ridiculously modern.

Long, uninteresting and dated.

Let's take a poll: thrilling, masterpiece, nail-biting, suspense.

THe script is brilliant and the film overall is suspenseful with twists and turns that you can't miss a beat or get lost.

However, the second time I watched it, I really, really enjoyed it.

For example, the breathtaking 360-degree pan; Sinatra's dialogue with Leigh on the train; the confrontation at the fancy dress party between McGiver and Lansbury, followed closely by Lansbury's thoroughly chilling mother-and-son scene with Harvey; and of course the superb finale at the convention.

Using innovative angles and shooting techniques, Frankenheimer heightens the tension beyond what was already on the page, creating a thriller that makes it's audience think while also keeping them on the edge of their seat.

Obviously disorienting from the start with the discourse on hydrangeas, the periodic shifts between the contrived and real audience was very well done; the touch with the all black floral society was a master stroke.

Axelrod's screenplay is by turns compelling, witty, and horrifying in its implications, and Frankenheimer's direction milks it for all the tension it can muster.

Angela Lansbury's is performance is also riveting.

What I was watching was a movie with an silly and unbelievable story, some truly terrible dialogue badly acted and told in a slow moving rather tedious and predictable way.

To make the story thrilling, Condon and film director Frankenheimer created a narrative that was part murder mystery, part science fiction, and all political allegory.

I have to still recommend that you see it for the cultural relevance but don't expect a fast paced thrill ride because this one is a slow burn, with what in my opinion was a predictable ending.

I almost enjoyed the dream sequences as they reminded me of something from a Stanley Kubric film, and the feel and look of the movie vaguely reminded me of Dr. Strangelove from time to time, but overall I found it dreadfully boring, poorly acted and altogether far-fetched.

Their story alone will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Mixing tragedy, intensity, and wit may sound like a challenge, but for films like "The Manchurian Candidate", it comes naturally and infects the screen in a magical and engaging way.

***END SPOILERS*** This movie had me on the edge of my chair from the first scene.

Now, it seems a funny overblown, too long in its running time, too boring, too cardboard cutout, too clichéd and too baloney.

Gregory is so spaced that he keeps confusing the number of card-carrying communists in the Senate, so Lansbury pins it down to an easy-to-remember 57, since Gregory is fond of Heinz ketchup, made in "57 different varieties.

The plot is so wild that it keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

In fact, it is a shame that Condon's work is not on the required list of American author's, instead of boring Paul Auster, who, while he writes well, has never written anywhere near close to this, and whose stories all tend to drift away into nothingness, as if he is afraid to say something wrong.

A gripping and ultimately heart-breaking political thriller .

The conference scene near the middle of the film was one of the most jarring and confusing moments in cinema history, creating so much confusion and intrigue, the scene makes up or any mistakes the film might have exhibited.

This fascinating film is not without its flaws.

He may not be the best actor ever, but his side of the story is the most compelling of the lot.

The first time I saw this film, about 10 years ago, I thought it was really fascinating.

Three quarters of the movie are exposition and a building to climax, with some ridiculous dialogue and saccharine, contrived plots.

"The Manchurian Candidate" is an intense film.

There is something wonderfully unreal about the world in which Sinatra's character moves, making his intense, anguished, thoroughly real performance - surely his best - all the more sympathetic.

But as for thrills, I sat on the edge of my seat all right -- so I could get up quickly as soon as this was over!

:) With that out of the way … fantastic performances by both Angela Lansbury and Frank Sinatra, great direction by John Frankenheimer, and an excellent plot all make this a film that is still highly enjoyable today.

Classic film buffs will already be well acquainted with it, but even for those who usually steer clear of anything black and white, it's well worth watching.

Frank Sinatra is quite compelling in his saviour's character design, bestows audience with a pretty vintage fighting sequences with Henry Silva, who plays the Korean Chunjin, regrettably the casting director didn't have the gut to hire a real Asian to play him.

" It soon becomes evident that after their capture by the Koreans, Shaw and his men were subjected to an intense program of brainwashing prior to their release.

Fantastic film with a stunning performance by Angela Lansbury .

However, I think it will be hard pressed to even come close to matching the original because Frankenheimer's version is an intense, relevant and incredibly intelligent film.

Laurence Harvey's performance is as riveting as a performance can get.

Fascinating film...

Kept falling asleep .

As in the remake, it's his character who is the most fascinating, multi-layered and believable - Harvey gives a terrific performance (and Shriever, too, in the remake), which is unforgettable.

Politically thrilling .

somehow I fell asleep everytime when Janet Leigh's scenes came up?!

It's things like this that make the movie both intriguing and fun.

A truly enjoyable film filled with suspense.

This is a mere propaganda film, made in the heat of Joe McCarthy's frenzy and it suffers from this fetid stigma.

Absolutely worth watching!

Dated political thriller is still stunning to watch...

Just to hint at a plot so diabolical in its concept and implications would involve so many SPOILERS that is is best to leave it alone and simply say that it has the most fiendishly cunning villain in film history, a wonderfully witty script (that reference to a sauce bottle and the consequences of a character thinking he has been told to jump into a lake), an exquisitely tender romantic interlude - almost a film within a film - of a summer when an "unlovable" character become "lovable", the finest performances Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury ever gave and a superlative score by David Amram, all of which add up to one of the most entertaining films of them all.

I had a great time watching it, and I definitely recommend it if you are interested at all in seeing a gripping Cold War era political thriller.

The story is engrossing and certainly makes you think - especialy in these days...

The Manchurian Candidate is a mix of suspense, thriller and the dialogues are very intense and to some, it could be seen to possess some dark humor.

Thrilling conspiracy film .

The ending is breathtaking and completely stunning.

The cinematography was stunning, and the black-and-white gave the film a balefulness from which colour might have distracted.

Angela Lansbury's icy presence as Shaw's mother is unforgettable, Janet Leigh makes an intriguing woman of mystery, and James Gregory is flawless as a pestilential, brainless Senator.

This movie is a tingling political thriller, with a tight, suspenseful plot and great direction.

Can't say much more than my headline: this movie is without fault, always entertaining, provocative, unpredictable (until you've watched it too many times) still amazing compared to any movie you see today or tomorrow.

He's the more compelling character anyways.

No plot spoilers here.

all over the place at points(it especially seems to struggle at the very beginning), the plot is excellent and rather compelling, from start to finish.

The performances here and very breathtaking and every time I see it has me nailed to the edge of my seat.

They can say all about Angela Lansbury's villianous portrayal of the sinister mother(in true Mommie Dearest format),but when it comes down to the nitty gritty,the chairman of the board(Frank Sinatra) gives the most famous gripping scene in motion picture history,and it shows in brillant capacity and in startling black and white effects.

John Frankenheimer gets every ounce of suspense out of pivotal scenes and you'll find yourself on the edge of your seat as the final scene unfolds.

She gives a stunning performance as Laurence Harvey's mom, very chilling.

Intense Cold War Drama .

contrived mishmash .

The story itself is first-rate - compelling, thrilling and intelligent.

At the time, I was in Chicago, and dragged a friend to a theatre to see it.

If the letters contained communist propaganda or suspected secret messages, they were not delivered.

'Some of the plot twists are a predictable, others are right on the money and you don't see them coming.

Empty, lonely, solemn.

The fascinating thing is that, from uncertain premise to shattering conclusion, one does not question plausibility: the events being rooted in their own cinematic reality.

Although I'm quite fond of the up-to-date remake, I found this film quite compelling.

Suspenseful and shocking, "The Manchurian Candidate" plays off the era's anti-Communist hysteria, and although the Cold War is long over, it still stands as a powerful representation of a nation's fear of outsiders and the dread of the effect these outsiders would have on our moral, economic, and political beliefs.

That is especially true when combined with the editing of Ferris Webster and when the two are combined during the film's lecture scenes or with the climactic sequence at the convention, the results are truly stunning.

Engrossing suspense thriller from master filmmaker Frankenheimer that features one of the toughest performances from Sinatra.

The screenplay by George Axelrod (based on the book by Richard Condon) seems busy at first but it concludes perfectly in three successive scenes at the end - all of them perfectly executed and edge-of-your-seat thrilling.

Apart from that Harvey is very bland and dry.

Janet Leigh's character is more intriguing.

From the first deeply unsettling dream/memory that we experience, everything becomes immersed in this eerie tone, that haunting world somewhere between fantasy and reality.

It's surprisingly intense.

The cast is star-studded, the story's engrossing and there's almost a playful sense of humor to it.

Riveting .

Suffice to say the movie had messages from both the Right and Left but politics aside, the film boasts an involving story that keeps your interest for most of the two hours and six minutes, and had some very interesting characters who are fascinating to watch.

To those who see it be prepared for a great storyline, but being slow moving kills the rating.

And the strange cast of characters (including a brainwashed Korean War veteran transformed into the perfect assassin, his ruthless, ambitious mother, and her right-wing nincompoop candidate husband) keeps it always unpredictable, which of course is the aim of any true thriller.

It's shocking, it's thrilling, it's surreal, it's sad...

The pacing of this movie is slow, slower and arduously slower still.

Iselin) as a dominant and intense character.

Crisp direction, a gripping story and script, great acting....

Like Alfred Hitchcock, Frankenheimer manages to create tension with everyday stuff (a solitaire game has never looked so unsettling), depicting a bizarre yet utterly realistic conspiracy (the nightmare sequence and the shocking climax are breathtaking and impossible to forget).

The plot unfolds at a snail's pace with backstory.

Politics Aside, A Riveting Film .

I certainly wasn't convinced and halfway through the movie, I started getting fairly bored.

I would really love to hear Frankenheimer's commentary on this, as it really is a fascinating movie.

All of it makes for an intense thriller.

The story is wonderfully bizarre - and difficult to follow if you miss too much of it.

Arguably it is one of the best films ever made; top-notch acting, superb direction, riveting story.

Set against the cold war paranoia of the sixties and McCarthyism, "The Manchurian Candidate" does an excellent job of recreating the intense suspense and tension of the time.

Stunning performance.

It is ponderous, long, stifling, claustrophobic and unpleasant.

The masterful cinematography and brisk editing are at their peak during the gripping climax.

Stunning .

It's a powerhouse performance in a velvet glove, and she is but one of the fascinating characters in John Frankenheimer's prescient, off-balance 1962 masterwork.

Meanwhile several other soldiers from Harvey's battalion (commanding officer Frank Sinatra in particular) start to have disturbing dreams where the group is in a room during a dull women's meeting where the main topic of discussion is botany.

Finally, there's Raymond himself, full of pain and self-loathing so intense that when he finally finds an outlet for it, he dives in...

The camera tricks are riveting.

The cold war is now set to explode like a slow fused time-bomb by way of a complex Oedipal assassination plot.

" scenario as well as a riveting insight into the obsessive politics of a bygone era, it deserves to be seen by all.

Just a unique, tense, engrossing story, well-acted.

It's literally immersed in the atmosphere and paranoia of the Cold War, and the best way to relate to this movie if you don't have that background might be to reflect upon the fact that some of the paranoid reactions to Muslims in the current so-called "War on Terror" is not unlike the reaction to suspected Communists in the era this movie was made in.

As far as the plot is concerned all the main characters have the necessary information required to prevent the weak and predictable ending with about 20 minutes to go further robbing the proceedings of any dramatic tension or logic.

And the plot is so complex and confusing, even if you've seen one version, chances are you can watch the other without being able to guess or untangle the twists and turns.

The conclusion is very suspenseful, with a shocking surprise ending.

The remake, in spite of its many good qualities, is too bloated, simply not a patch on the spare, intense, original.

It's a little bit of an embarrassment to realize it is so dated but still enjoyable.

and was just as gripping when re-released in 1988.

Frankenheimer made a brilliant and gripping political masterpiece.

The Manchurian Candidate is a thriller so intense it can almost be considered a horror film.

Intelligent, gripping, taut, and very convincingly portrayed.

The cast are an odd but intriguing bunch - Harvey is perfectly dislikeable as the unlovable puppet, Sinatra gives probably the best straight acting job of his career, Lansbury is simply terrifying as Harvey's power-mad manipulative mother (although she's way too young), Leigh is divinely beautiful and extraordinarily enigmatic, and a very young Silva has a great bit as a pesky commie agent.

Notwithstanding the poor casting and bad acting, it's an intriguing story that is told much better in the remake.

A thrilling film, topped by an explosive climax, it's one not to be missed.

" Certainly there are several contenders: audacious, macabre, stark, gripping, pulpy, morbid, dark, hilarious.

The captain's subsequent pursuit of the truth comprises the unusual plot which takes us from the halls of Congress to a stunning climax at a Madison Square Garden political convention.

The ideas that make this 1962 film so intriguing were in Richard Condon's book published in 1959.

Several plot points are unconvincing and contrived.

Gives a new meaning to "being on the edge of your seat!

Condon's characters come alive on the screen, as portrayed by an ensemble of compelling actors at the top of their game.

This is a great political thriller that seems fresh and exciting even though it's over 30 years old.


taut gripping entertainment .

A veritable concoction of various genres and emotional textures, this exciting black-and-white cold war thriller never flags for an instant.

Intense Cold War era masterpiece that seems to grow bolder and more intelligent with age.

Talky, sometimes confusing film made riveting by first-rate performances from Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury and a sweat-inducing climax.

I really admired the way Frankenheimer has been able to brilliantly bring life to this mediocre script, and even create some stunning scenes that are among the most jubilating ones in cinema history.

The story gets to confusing for that at times and there are also lots of moments in the movie that just coma across as pointless and completely redundant, such as the entire Janet Leigh character.

Incredibly suspenseful and is full of gripping twists and turns, that will keep the viewer glued to their seat through the entire picture.

I won't give away the plot, but dear readers, allow me to sat that this one is really worth watching--until the nail-biting and chilling conclusion.

Harvey, obviously with no experience in journalism, becomes involved with a publication that is sympathetic with Communist propaganda.

I'm a big fan of poetry, and the strong symbolism achieved through the use of the deck of cards was intriguing, which worked perfectly within the whole theme of brainwashing.

I gave it a 7 out of 10 as an engrossing cold war-era drama, with the actors giving a good account of themselves.

For truly riveting political intrigue and drama, I much prefer "The Day Of The Jackal" (1973).

It is simultaneously thrilling, tense, humorous, emotional and tragic.

The plot was thin and totally predictable.

It is a compelling film that has equally compelling performances.

Frank Sinatra is impressive in conveying Marco's combination of confusion, despair and anxiety and Angela Lansbury excels as an incredibly evil woman who's ruthless, manipulative and very controlling.

Trite and hokey - yes.

This film made long ago from a 1959 book by Richard Condon, is still riveting, intelligent fare of the highest degree.

Along with this riveting thriller is a subtle satire on the morality of government that is marvelously done.

The picture that introduced sleeper agents to film, 'The Manchurian Candidate' is a classic political thriller that still remains as intriguing as it was 52 years ago.


Moreover, its possible plausible merits are washed away by protruding slow pacing and awful, almost unreal dialogues that land in the realm of pure parody.

Any more of the plot would be a give-away, although highlights include Hollywood's first martial arts fight, Sinatra's first encounter with Leigh on a train (the romantic subplot is otherwise rather superfluous), Harvey's desperation and confusion, and the whole edgy, paranoid atmosphere of the piece.

Its a stunning twist of plot.

An excellent film that has you on the edge of your seat throughout.

Based on a novel by Richard Condon, this is a terrific story which works as an exciting thriller, a political satire and a weird kind of domestic drama.

The performances are outstanding with Angela Lansbury compelling and convincing as the mother of the Laurence Harvey character, in spite of being three years younger than Harvey.

The film also has an almost literally heart-stopping climax and just for good measure the in-between content is gripping, involving and also has shockingly unexpected developments too.

By the time you get to the finish all the tension has drained away, the promise of the film's intriguing beginning is long gone.

I beg to differ: ridiculous, dated, predictable, simple-minded, army-glorifying, xenophobic caricature of life in the sixties.

Powerfully gripping and shot in beautiful black and white; you'll never look at Solitaire the same again.

After that, it was exciting to see the questions slowly answered.

It is a film that introduces many questions as it tells its story; it is a fascinating, complex study of psychology and politics, and it is a forever-frozen-in-time moment of a depiction of American life in the early 1960s.

The story is highly engaging and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

One criticism of the film is the use of hypnosis and its implications but this is still a tense, enjoyable film.

The film is simultaneously farcical, frightening, funny, mysterious, political, and suspenseful.

Lawrence Harvey is stunning as the perfectly hollow Raymond Shaw.

One of the most intriguing war films of all time .

You can never be sure if what you are watching is a fact or a deception, thoroughly absorbing you into a dizzied state.

It all leads up to an absolutely stunning and shocking ending.

Beneath the suspenseful story of Sgt.

Gripping .

Beyond failing as propaganda (its chief objective, it fails as a story.

All in all this is a most excellent movie and very enjoyable too.

There are great surprises and twists in this, and it is exciting and engaging.

That's because the original film was so perfect, so exciting, so well acted and written, there was no reason for a remake and there is no conceivable way any remake could have improved on the original story--it was THAT good!

Even during that bizarre dialogue exchange with Jamie Lee's mom on the train, Frank held me with his man on the edge character.

But the ending really is quite predictable.

The ending was predictable and I thought pretty clumsily done.

The blurring of sides must have shocked early 1960's audiences and the films disappearance from the movie world following the Kennedy assassination clearly added to the mystique and confusion.

The stunning Leslie Parrish, an actress who never fulfilled her initial promise, plays Shaw's beloved Josey with a Monroe-like combination of innocence and sensuality.