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The Manchurian Candidate (Special Edition)
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|Genre||Mystery & Thrillers|
|Format||Multiple Formats, AC-3, Anamorphic, Black & White, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen See more|
|Contributor||James Gregory, Laurence Harvey, John McGiver, Khigh Dhiegh, James Edwards, John Frankenheimer, George Axelrod, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Albert Paulsen, Henry Silva, Leslie Parrish, Richard Condon, Douglas Henderson, Frank Sinatra See more|
|Runtime||2 hours and 6 minutes|
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Eerie, shocking, daring, thrilling and mesmerizing, The Manchurian Candidate will leave youbreathless (People)! Featuring an all-star cast, including Angela Lansbury in an OscarÂ(r)-nominated performance, this chilling and controversial (Leonard Maltin) film may be the most sophisticated political satire ever made (Pauline Kael). When a platoon of Korean War G.I.s iscaptured, they somehow end up at a ladies garden club party. Or do they? Major Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) can't remember. As he searches for the answer, he discovers threads of a diabolical plot orchestrated by the utterly ruthless Mrs. Iselin (Lansbury) and involving her war hero son (LaurenceHarvey), her senator husband (James Gregory) and a secret cabal of enemy leaders.
In preparation for the 2004 remake, the special edition of this 1962 thriller delivers a few extra features, but the best reason to grab this edition is a new 5.1 Dolby sound mix and anamorphic widescreen transfer. Director John Frankenheimer's excellent commentary and a short 1988 reunion with the three main talents are retained from the first release. New extras includes a photo gallery and 15 minutes of reminiscences from actress Angela Lansbury. The other short is hosted by Frankenheimer disciple William Friedkin, who dishes on some facts, but a few of his speculations are contradicted by Frankenheimer's commentary. --Doug Thomas
- Aspect Ratio : 1.78:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
- Product Dimensions : 7.75 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches; 0.01 Ounces
- Item model number : MFR027616911131#N
- Director : John Frankenheimer
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, AC-3, Anamorphic, Black & White, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Run time : 2 hours and 6 minutes
- Release date : July 13, 2004
- Actors : Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Henry Silva
- Dubbed: : French, Spanish
- Subtitles: : English, Spanish, French
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Unqualified (DTS ES 6.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
- Studio : MGM (Video & DVD)
- ASIN : B00020X88Y
- Writers : George Axelrod, John Frankenheimer, Richard Condon
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #15,970 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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It’s fascinating how a black and white film can pay such attention to color and here that color is red. In the first scene after the opening credits we see a platoon of soldiers sitting at a garden party in what they think is an east coast American hotel. The flower that keeps being talked about is hydrangeas. Now for you horticulturalists out there you probably know that the color of the blossoms of hydrangeas depends on the soil in which they are grown except for ones that are pure white to begin with which remain pure white. If the soil is rich in acid and the hydrangeas are well nourished the blossoms will be blue. But if the hydrangea plant is not nurtured and the soil does not have the proper amount of acid in it the blossoms will turn pink…or in this case “red”. The analogy being drawn here is that the maternal love in Staff Sergeant Raymond Shaw’s childhood was undernourished and therefore the communists are able to use his unfulfilled need to bend him to their will and thus he turns red.
If you listen to the Director’s Commentary by John Frankenheimer which I strongly suggest, he talks about how they had to shoot the scene six different ways in order to get the surreal dreamlike quality they wanted to achieve. The set was built on a train track so it could turn it around in a circle. They actors playing the soldiers literally had to do their scene, get up and run a hundred and eighty degrees to the opposite side and sit back down to play the scene a different way. Ironically many of the other scenes in the film were done in a single shot and some on the first take.
Continuing with the color red the trigger card in the deck that allows the communists to manipulate Raymond when they ask him to play solitaire is the Red Queen or queen of diamonds (in a French deck the Queen of Diamonds represents Rachel from the Bible whom Jacob falls in love with). Richard Condon may have chosen this card as a reference to Lewis Carol’s “Through the Looking Glass”. Lewis himself referred to the Red Queen (as opposed to the Queen of Hearts) as being a type of fury but unlike the Queen of Hearts “her passion must be cold and calm” and Lewis felt the Red Queen must be “pedantic” paying strict attention to details…and does she ever. The red queen represents Raymond’s mother who is indeed cold and calm and not at all a nurturing parent.
Raymond’s mother’s name is Eleanor which means “other, foreign” and was historically given to women of nobility. Ironically it is also thought to mean “compassion”. His mother and stepfather’s last name, Iselin means “iron” and may be a sly reference to the iron curtain. The name Shaw means “dweller by the wood” thus her name can be thought of as “Foreign Iron Dweller by the Wood” or possibly to be ironic “Compassionate Iron Dweller by the Wood”. Raymond’s name means “Protecting Hands” or with Shaw added “Protecting Hands Dweller by the Wood” therefore we can think of it as the Protecting Hands against the Foreign Iron. One of the most loaded lines in the script in reference to Raymond’s relationship to his mother is at the top of the movie and comes from Private Bobby Lembeck who says innocently of Raymond’s not liking the whore house, “Maybe he has a girl back home”.
Lincoln is used throughout the film to represent Senator Iselin also for ironic effect. In the rooms his scenes take place pictures of Lincoln can be found as well as a bust. He dresses as Lincoln for the costume party and he desecrates an American Flag made from caviar. Also Mrs. Iselin is dressed as Bo Peep (she is also dressed this way in the book in the same scene) and in a great exchange with Senator Thomas Jordan who is the father of Jocelyn Jordan, the woman Raymond is in love with he tells Eleanor he will block her from getting her husband nominated with every last penny he has and every last cent (note that Lincoln is on the American penny) he can borrow. Eleanor throws down her hook with cold and controlled disdain and in that moment we know that the worst is coming. I might also add in reference to her costume that “to play Bo Peep” is an archaic term which means to be tied to a whipping pole.
Further playing on the theme of mutation is the scene where Ben meets Eugenie on the train.
She first introduces herself as Eugenie but as the scene progresses she reveals to him her friends call her “Rosie”. We find out late in the scene Eugenie’s full name is Eugenie Rose with Rose being the name she chooses because it, in her opinion, sounds strong. The name “Eugenie” means “well born” and “good”. The name Rosie just like the Red Queen and the hydrangeas also represents the color red. And as a rose is a flower we are also drawn back to the scene about the hydrangeas. Rosie, very much the opposite of Mrs. Iselin and has a certain maternal instinct about her we see in her relationship with Ben Marco and the scene shows that though Raymond’s mother may be what Raymond calls “a terrible, terrible woman” Rosie is the opposite. The scene works on multiple levels and not just to allow for the two characters to meet. Because the conversation between them is about their names (for instance Major Marco’s name is Ben derived from Benet and he is named after an officer Benet) and the different titles people address them by we see it is another way the film plays on the theme of mutation. Their names and in a sense their identities mutate throughout the course of the scene paralleling with the mutation which had taken place in Raymond. It is also a reference to the audience and the way our own identity is shaped by other people. John Frankenheimer in the director’s commentary talks about how the dialogue here is strange and perhaps on first viewing it is. But upon multiple viewings it is a brilliant and logical choice by Condon as a way to continue to weave the thread of his theme through the story.
One of the most crucial scenes in the film is between Major Marco and Jocelyn Jordan which again plays on the theme of mutation. Jocelyn is a pretty but naïve young woman who is in love with Raymond and does not want to believe he is mentally ill and capable of the worst. The scene shows how naiveté and innocence have no place in the world of politics. Her inability to believe Raymond can appear to be one thing but manipulated to act as another makes her blind to the manipulation of the world. She is incapable of understanding the fact that if she has been molded to act lovingly by her father that it is equally logical that Raymond has been molded to act violently by his mother. And her attempt to convince Marco she is right about Raymond’s innocence has dire effects.
One interesting factoid about the film is Angela Lansbury in her Oscar nominated finest role ever playing Raymond’s mother Mrs. Eleanor Shaw Iselin was only two years older than Lawrence Harvey at the time. On the Director’s Commentary Frankenheimer talks about how Frank Sinatra’s first choice for the part was Lucile Ball but Frankenheimer wanted Lansbury for the part and showed Sinatra his previous film “All Fall Down” where Lansbury played Warren Beatty’s mother. Sinatra graciously agreed to have them Angela Lansbury cast after seeing her performance. One interesting reason for Lansbury playing the part so convincingly may not only be because she is a talented actress but in real life is a rare personality type called an INTJ (in fact the rarest personality type amongst women). INTJs look at the world as a giant chessboard and are known for their intellectualism, strategic capabilities, pragmatic scientific approach to all things, extraordinary imaginations and as a downfall their cold aloof personalities and remedial social skills all of which fit the character of Mrs. Iselin very well. Also they are capable of caring very deeply for a select few which works brilliantly in one of the crucial scenes between Raymond and Mrs. Mrs. Eleanor Shaw Iselin. Frankenheimer says in the same scene in the book Eleanor seduces and beds Raymond. But in the film we only get a brief glimpse of the possibility due to the limitations of the movie code at the time.
Other interesting factoids include the following: the karate fight in the film between Major Marco and Chunjin is supposed to be the first one ever filmed in Hollywood. When the crew filmed in New York and Raymond walks into the water it was freezing cold and a foot of ice on the surface which had to be removed early the morning of shooting in order for him to walk into the water which Lawrence Harvey did without flinching. The names Major Marco reads from the book are real soldiers who are actually in The Congressional Medal of Honor Book and performed the acts of bravery stated. Frankenheimer used the card costume used on Jocelyn two years earlier in a television production of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”.
John Frankenheimer and George Axlerod wisely stuck very close to Richard Condon’s book when crafting the script and in doing so created a masterpiece. It is one of the must see films of all time, riveting, insightful and daring taking its place amongst Hollywood’s very best.
Few films from that period hold up as well today as does "The Manchurian Candidate." The story, adapted from Richard Condon's novel by George Axelrod, is complicated enough that a narrator shows up for a few of the early scenes to help us along. In Korea in 1952 an American patrol is betrayed by their Korean scout and captured by the Communists. They then return to the United States as heroes, with Sergeant Raymond Shaw being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He is the step-son of Republican Senator John Yerkes Iselin (James Gregory), a Joseph McCarthy like figure whose brains are all in the head of his wife (Angela Lansbury), Raymond's ruthless mother. But then we find that the leader of the patrol, Captain and now Major Bennett Marco (Sinatra) is having the same nightmare every night, and we have one of the three classic examples of montage in American cinema (along with the shower scene in "Psycho" and the baptism montage in "The Godfather").
Marco dreams that he and the patrol are sitting on a stage attending a garden show in New Jersey. A woman is going on and on about hydrangeas as the camera does a 360 degree pan, but by the time the camera swings back around to its original position the stage is a auditorium in Manchurian and the women on the stage are now communist soldiers. The scene was shot in six different ways, mixing the two stages, the two audiences, and the two speakers. As edited by Ferris Webster it seems as if virtually every cut is from one mix to a different one. The end result is a powerful montage that captures perfectly the unreal sense of what is going on. It is also a wonderful way of getting a lot of exposition into the scene and if you want a sign of how good this film is then consider how much exposition is worked into various scenes without you noticing that they are going on and on about the big bad plot and such.
There are several other nice sequences as well, although nothing could top that particular tour de force. When a black member of the patrol "continues" Marko's dream the women are now all black instead of white. Then there is the scene of the press conference for the Secretary of Defense interrupted by Senator Iselin where we see it happening and on television at the same time. Notice also how Frankenheimer balances these sorts of scenes with those that are done in longer takes usually two shots. There is more style to "The Manchurian Candidate" than just its most famous scene.
Ironically, the biggest probably with believability in "The Manchurian Candidate" is not that Chinese communists could come up with this plot to put their agent in the White House but that Eugnie Rose Chaney (Janet Leigh), would run into Marco on a train, see this shaking wreck of a man, and decide to give him her name, address, phone number, and dump her fiance. I suppose it was seen as some sort of a red herring, because otherwise you have to wonder what is wrong with that girl?
Sinatra considered this his finest performance and I am inclined to agree with his self-assessment, but the same can be said for both Harvey and Lansbury. Sinatra wanted Lucille Ball to play the Queen of Diamonds, but it is impossible to think of anybody other than Lansbury doing this role and the scene in which she speaks to Raymond, kisses him, and sends him off to fulfill his mission is one of the most chilling in cinema history. Lansbury and Webster were the only two Oscar nominees from the cast, which is surprising in itself given the film's reputation, but they lost to Patty Duke for "The Miracle Worker" and Anne V. Coates for "Lawrence of Arabia," a pair of votes that are certainly understandable.
The DVD extras on this special edition of "The Manchurian Candidate" are definitely spartan. There is a brief conversation with Frankenheimer, Axlerod and Sinatra, and the director provides some commentary on a special track. My guess is that Frankenheimer talks for maybe half the film at best, but what he does have to say is worth listening to for the inside details on how some of the scenes got shot, production problems, what came from the original novel versus the script, and other fun bits of information. With the remake of "The Manchurian Candidate" this summer there should be a renewed interest in the original, which will only serve to reaffirm its deserved reputation in the history of American cinema (#67 on the American Film Institute's list of top 100 movies of all-time).
Top reviews from other countries
Frank Sinatra plays it low key and straight. Laurence Harvey in probably his best ever performance as the brittle and vulnerable ex-soldier manipulated by his overbearing mother beautifully played by Angela Lansbury.
A great cameo from the magnificent Henry Silva.
Black and white, 2 hours, English subtitles. A good print, faultless.
be radicalised over night, just watch this film.
This movie was released right in the middle of the Cuban Missile
Crisis in 1962, and a year before the JFK assassination, and in
the middle of the white-heat of the Cold War, this film deals with
something very relevant today, Brainwashing. Long before we
knew about MKUltra and the killings of MLK and Bobby Kennedy
this story kind of foresees these events coming. You really get a
sense of the paranoiac state of mind of the Cold War when watching
This is a Cold War Classic, and a tense neo-noir thriller, with all round
great performances from the cast, in one scene Frank Sinatra breaks
his hand in real life, and It also has a Freudian subplot going on too.
Although a little dated in places, it still stands up today, because as
I write, there is brainwashing going on somewhere in the world, be it
the Middle East, or North Korea, it is still happening.
Arrow's blu-ray gives an expected strong presentation of the film based on MGM's master. The B/W photography shows healthy contrast and grain. Sound is a clear mono. There are some strong extras including archival interviews with director-writer-producer team and with Angela Lansbury who played a rather controversial mother character in the film. Arrow also includes an episode on Frankenheimer from "The Directors" series, giving a decent career retrospective of the man, right from his days of working in TV. Highly recommended for people that like taut thrillers that don't depend on action sequences to be exciting.
Frank Sinatra ,Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury were perfect
Great pyschological thriller
This is what the 60s USA was all about
This film was shelved b4 released as JFK was assassinated and this was what the film was about
So as respect to JFK sinatra.the actor and producer in the movie shelved it out if respect and was only ever seen in dvd in the 2000s