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USA, 1962 (MIFF 1988, Retrospectives)

Director: John Frankenheimer

Resurrected after 25 years in Frank Sinatra's vaults John Frankenheimer's long-suppressed political satire still stimulates audiences with its verve, dash and morally pointed wit.

Contrary to rumours of neo-Republican, ex-Democrat Sinatra's ideological motivations for withholding exhibition rights, the quarter century dispute apparently revolved around percentages and terms of profit participation. Whatever the reasons, film lovers must be gladdened that matters have been settled and this masterwork from the early 1960s can be re-seen, re-assessed, re-enjoyed.

The biting gall of the enterprise continues to gnaw at the core of the American body politic, social and cultural. Everything from Communistic brainwashing techniques to red baiting McCarthyist double agents and smothering Lady Macbeth like Mom-ism is incorporated into an outlandish but some how wholly credible plot. The cool, arrogant Laurence Harvey is a G.I. sergeant robotically trained and tuned by Chinese mind bending specialists to kill, some of his platoon m Manchuria, his wife and his father in law.

The tragi-comic trajectory of this puppet assassin is accidentally crossed by the intervention of Shaw's former patrol buddy Lieutenant Bennett Marco (played by Sinatra as a bookish army officer, who happens to be reading a history of the mafia)

A classic, a connoisseur's delight

"...The Manchurian Candidate no longer seems as fanciful as it did to contemporary critics who admired its ingenuity and imagination

"It was temporarily withdrawn from circulation after President Kennedy's assassination amid conjecture that it might have planted the idea for the murder. 'I find it impossible to become involved in politics since his death', Frankenheimer has said." - Allen Eyles 'The Movie The Illustrated History of the Cinema' no 61, 198

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