Film (1962). MC/Essex/United Artists. Directed by John Frankenheimer, starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Henry Silva, James Gregory. Screenplay George Axelrod, based on The Manchurian Candidate (1959) by Richard Condon. 126 minutes. Black and white.
A group of US soldiers captured in Korea are subjected to elaborate brainwashing by the Chinese as part of a plot to have a Chinese agent elected President of the USA. One officer is programmed – this is the strongest sf element – to become a killing machine whenever any of the people working for the Chinese gives the right command. The resulting confusions back in the USA, both funny and sinister – especially the climax at the Party convention – are choreographed with great panache by Frankenheimer, whose best film this probably is, though it owes much to the wit and intelligence of Axelrod's screenplay, which is faithful to the novel. Its ominous reverberations became darker when President Kennedy was assassinated a year later. [JB/PN]
see also: Cinema; Paranoia.
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