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THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE
1962 - John Frankenheimer
United States
110
Opening Shot

A title card: "Korea, 1952". An army truck driving at night with two men pulls up to pick up a group of soldiers having fun inside (both drinking and prostitution). This is followed quickly by a fade into battle where a group of soldiers is captured and taken away in helicopters. This is followed by the title sequence.

The Film

"Why don't you pass the time with a game of solitaire?" The Manchurian Candidate is a film before it's time, and remains as powerful (and important) today as it was during it's release in 1962. It's a very dark, tense, frightening, gripping , and even humorous film of brainwashing, paranoia, and politics. Loaded with shocks, conspiracy, inventive visuals, symbolism (Abraham Lincoln), and nasty political satire of both the innocent and guilty, and right and left wings. Everyone involved in making this cinematic masterpiece, from director John Frankenheimer to actors Frank Sinatera, Laurence Harvey, Angela Lansbury, and Janet Leigh, and on deserve credit for creating an important, timeless, and unforgettable cinematic achievement. A truly collaborative effort by all involved! It connects on all levels, visually and emotionally. This truly is flawless in every aspect of filmmaking. The final moments are as heart-pounding as anything I've ever experienced in a film. For all it greatness, perhaps the greatest strength of the film is the paranoid and mysterious mood it captures. It's strangely funny, romantic, shocking, and terrifying all at the same time. It's truly a rare and fascinating film to experience. The Manchurian Candidate ranks not only among the greatest American films of the 1960's, but one of the boldest and most emotionally powerful films ever made.

The Filmmaker

New York born filmmaker John Frankenheimer's background is rooted in television. In the early 1950s Frankenheimer worked as an assistant director for CBS. He was offered his directorial film debut with 1957's The Young Stranger. Frankenheimer did not feel comfortable with the job and didn't think he was ready direct films. He returned to television where he directed hundreds of films until he return to films in 1961 with The Young Savages (again starring Burt Lancaster who starred in his previous film and five in total). Frankenheimer's big breakthrough came in 1962 with the release of two highly acclaimed, Oscar-nominated films: Birdman of Alcatraz and The Manchurian Candidate. Frankenheimer was not nominated for an Oscar, but he did receive Director Guild nominations for each film that year. Throughout the 1960s Frankenheimer continued making some of the most popular and well received films (including Seven Days in May, the Train, Seconds, Grand Prix, and The Fixer). Frankenheimer's great skill is in the craftsmanship of his films which were known for their stark psychological and political edge. This is also why is most remembered for his knack with genre filmmaking, notably thrillers. His later films did not quite absorb the viewer with the ease of his early black and white films, Frankenheimer's expertise with genre never really weakened.

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Resources
trailer (youtube)      
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