One of the great political thrillers. The Manchurian Candidate isn’t a horror film, but it find it just as unnerving and gut wrenching as something like Psycho or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
The Manchurian Candidate is so serious I actually think it’s more satirical than I expected it to be. For example when you look at the character of John Islin, he’s obviously a stand in for Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism as a whole. Yet he’s such a buffoon on his own. Laurence Harvey’s Raymond Shaw is the opposite. A man who mostly nobody cares for is made out to be the ultimate hero, a surprising subversion of normally expecting the best soldier to be the one who is brainwashed because of his skills and talents. Also of note is the idea of Communists turning the tables and using anti-communism to their advantage to stage a takeover of the United States.
And what can be said that hasn’t been said about Angela Lansbury? Easily one of the best performances of the 1960s. Hands down one of the best movie villains ever to me. The more I think about it, since the character of Eleanor controls both John and Raymond, I Wonder was John Frankenheimer making a statement on the power of women in a political sense? I’ll be honest I can’t speak on the whole social aspect of this since things were changing during the 1960s.
The Cold War was a critical point in world history. One would think a film such as this would become dated at some point, but The Manchurian Candidate remains potent to this day along with its contemporaries like Dr. Strangelove and Fail-Safe.