Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1960s Manchurian Candidate, The (1962)

Manchurian Candidate, The (1962)

The Manchurian Candidate looks at a group of decorated Korean War veterans who all have recurring nightmares about their involvement in that conflict, all imagining that they’ve experienced some bizarre events that leave them permanently scarred.


It transpires that the Communists got their hands on our boys and used them as guinea pigs to show the power of hypnotism.

As such, all of the men operate under false memories about their actions in the war, and one of them has been programmed to be an assassin.

Frank Sinatra excels with some surprising high-tension acting as the main protagonist, Major Bennett Marco, who is struggling to come to grips with his demons and find out the truth about his indoctrination. The other main character is Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey).


Though the movie’s opening scenes show the platoon’s general dislike for Shaw, their cumulative memory of him is that of a hero and a virtual saint. Marco works to expose the facts.

Shaw’s position is made additionally intriguing because of his heritage. His mother (Angela Lansbury) has remarried Senator Johnny Iselin (James Gregory), a sleazy moron who aspires to be another Joe McCarthy.

Mrs Iselin is the brains of the operation, and she keeps the Red-baiting dope on a short leash. She also tries hard to maintain a tight grip over Raymond, though the reasons for her need for firm control don’t emerge until late in the movie as the assassin gets his important assignment.

manchurian_922This riveting political espionage thriller (adapted from a novel by Richard Condon) was brilliantly handled by director John Frankenheimer, although the sensitive content ensured the movie was banned for many years.

The names of the soldiers in the platoon (Melvin, Lembeck, Silvers and Hiken) come from the actors who played Sgt Bilko’s platoon on The Phil Silvers Show (Allan Melvin, Harvey Lembeck and Phil Silvers) plus Nat Hiken, the creator of the classic TV show.

Bennett Marco
Frank Sinatra
Raymond Shaw
Laurence Harvey
Eugénie Rose ‘Rosie’ Cheyney
Janet Leigh
Eleanor Shaw Iselin
Angela Lansbury
Henry Silva
Senator John Yerkes Iselin
James Gregory
Jocie Jordon
Leslie Parrish
Senator Thomas Jordon
John McGiver
Yen Lo
Khigh Dhiegh
Corporal Al Melvin
James Edwards
Albert Paulsen
Holborn Gaines
Lloyd Corrigan
Mrs Melvin
Mimi Dillard
John Laurence
Bobby Lembeck
Tom Lowell
Ed Navole
Richard Lapore
Nick Bolin
Nicky Blair
William Thourlby
Irving Steinberg
John Francis
Benjamin K. Arthur
Robert Riordon
Reggie Nalder
Miss Gertrude
Miyoshi Jingu

John Frankenheimer