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The Manchurian Candidate
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The Manchurian Candidate

1962
Romance
Drama
2h 6m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 70.05% from 2389 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

(2389)
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Rated 05 Jul 2015
100
97th
Gripping Cold War thriller with smart writing, taut direction, and the most bizarre mother-son relationship this side of the Bates Motel.
Rated 07 Mar 2019
81
72nd
Assassination, she wrote. Methinks they forgot to have the sleeper agent do anything that actually requires him to be an American soldier - what he does could be done more reliably by a KGB agent or like...a homeless guy for cash, but then I suppose we would lose the juicy angle on damaged soldiers/ptsd/survivor's guilt. The direction is stylish but kills are appreciably depicted as matter-of-fact, no dramatic zooms or slo-mo or score - the assassin's subjective reality is truly suppressed.
Rated 16 Aug 2011
98
99th
THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE can best be described as a film that feels RIGHT in every sense; the story goes from point to point with such precision that this very precision becomes entertaining; the performances are all so careful, so exact, that commentary on them seems almost superfluous. Like John Frankenheimer's direction--and everything else about the film--it all feels...RIGHT. A fascinating story peopled by fascinating characters, spiced with political satire...it is a sheer delight.
Rated 16 Oct 2011
72
88th
A great political thriller. The peaks of the film are clearly the two shooting scenes, which are fantastically directed and absolutely stunning.
Rated 19 Mar 2012
84
90th
Some of the acting might be spotty, but there's a lot of interesting stuff here regardless, leading to an intense finale. I loved the shifts in perspective during the brainwashing presentation flashbacks. Fun to realise how many other films have been inspired by this. And rightly so!
Rated 06 Apr 2012
100
99th
Brilliant, riveting political thriller with a superb cast headed by Sinatra in one of his best dramatic roles, a piteous performance from Harvey and an iconic, scene-stealing one from Lansbury as the chilling, smothering mother. Frankenheimer employs a fascinating directorial style (ingeniously using TV coverage to keep everyone on screen at once) and creates a stark and deeply unsettling atmosphere of dread and uncertainty. A classic film that definitely lives up to its reputation.
Rated 19 Sep 2013
85
90th
Great little thriller that hits all the right notes. Stylish cinematography, good pacing, terrific acting (I don't know why everyone is so down on Sinatra) and a bunch of truly memorable scenes; the brainwashing sequence and the assassination being the two highlights. A lot of really odd stuff, too, to add to the sense of paranoia.
Rated 26 Jul 2010
93
87th
The looming menace of the Cold War hangs over the film like long shadows cast by prison bars. Though based on a novel first published in 1959, the film has all sorts of subtle echoes of the recently elected President Kennedy, particularly the crazy right-wing notion that he was some sort of Vatican plant, poised to topple the republic at the proper signal. What plays like a comically paranoid thriller to most can seem like a horrifying cautionary tale to the sad, addled few.
Rated 13 Oct 2011
8
82nd
An interesting and well written film that leaves you wanting more constantly up until a well done ending, even if it was a bit obvious that that's how they were going to end it. The mother/son relationship is one of the most bizarre ever put on film and Angela Lansbury completely dominates the role. Frankenheimer clearly loves the Orson Welles camera too because he was stealing a lot of his wonderful shots. Pretty cool movie.
Rated 10 May 2012
85
91st
Suspenseful, and sometimes downright eerie. It showcases a very weird form of brainwashing or hypnotism, so that the hypnotized people behave basically like robots who can be given any sort of order. It's a little over the top, but it still works, and it better, as critical as it is to the plot.
Rated 06 Aug 2012
4
70th
It's always nice when a 50-year-old movie's politics are still relevant, and The Manchurian Candidate certainly qualifies in that regard. I can only imagine how explosive it must have been on its release, with its frank portrayal of corrupt politicians, assassination plots, et al. Besides that, it's a rock-solid thriller with some nice hard-edged cinematography.
Rated 01 Nov 2013
88
91st
Frank Sinatra's acting chops are about on par with a houseplant (or a Cameron Diaz). The true standout performances are delivered by Angela Lansbury and the always underrated Laurence Harvey. A classic Cold War era thriller.
Rated 15 Sep 2015
90
93rd
Frankenheimer's direction is masterful here. While there are a few contrived plot points, it's an absorbing thriller featuring solid performances, many memorable scenes, spectacular camerawork and a great twist at the end. Harvey, despite a slightly iffy accent, is totally engrossing as the cold, disaffected assassin, and although Leigh's presence feels purely for the purpose of fleshing out Sinatra's storyline, her character offers some brief but welcome escapes from the tense narrative.
Rated 09 Aug 2017
84
93rd
An excellent movie, with plenty of interesting moments and fantastic turns by all of the cast, particularly Lansbury and Harvey.
Rated 14 Jun 2018
4
74th
Few mainstream American films have dared to engage the heat of the moment in the same manner as The Manchurian Candidate. No punches are pulled in this conspiracy thriller-cum-satire, a far-fetched ridicule of the red scare at the apex of American and Soviet tension. It is a gutsy film, not only for its time, but still exhibiting the entertaining draw of complete audacity. It's not unjustified to say that its most relevant companion piece is that titan of all political satire, Dr. Strangelove.
Rated 26 Mar 2007
100
95th
One of the weirdest all-star-cast big-budget movies ever produced
Rated 21 Apr 2008
99
99th
One of the wittiest movies I've ever seen, from the liberal senator getting shot and appearing to bleed milk to the whole notion of the perfect assassin being controlled by his mom. Laurence Harvey was a masterstroke of casting; he perfectly embodies prickliness and disgust, except when he doesn't, and suddenly pulls your heartstrings. Lansbury is also unbelievable here--having grown up watching Bedknobs & Broomsticks it knocked me over to see her be utterly heartless.
Rated 18 Jul 2008
90
95th
The original and the best. Interestingly, Angela Lansbury who played Laurence Harvey's mother was actually 5 years YOUNGER than him
Rated 21 Sep 2008
88
97th
a true classic. this movie remains one of my favourites and passes all tests of time and repeated viewings.
Rated 04 Mar 2009
0
12th
Sinatra paints an attractively washed-out portrait of a U.S. intelligence officer. His fatigue and jitters seem an appropriate reaction to, and comment on, the task of propping up a delirious political thriller composed of tight-skinned, glassy-eyed zombies (Harvey, Silva, Leigh), of Frankenheimer's fancy, humorless, imitation-Orson-Welles camera tilts, and of a mush-brained, wish-fulfillment plotline that posits a Right Wing political movement as a cover for Communist subversion.
Rated 05 Apr 2009
85
94th
A wonderful film except some bad acting.
Rated 23 May 2009
9
90th
Great political thriller, another reason why Frankenheimer was the master of the 'paranoia' genre.
Rated 22 Nov 2009
72
76th
Angela Landsbury is the sweet old Murder She Wrote lady, huh? Check this out. Terrific performance.
Rated 27 Jan 2010
92
89th
One of the most stylish and most gripping thrillers ever made.
Rated 09 Apr 2010
85
88th
A film about the Cold War that has withstood the test of time and today is still a great movie. And much better than the recent remake.
Rated 06 Aug 2010
91
93rd
There are a number influences in play here. The Reds have it over Shaw, the army has it over Marco and Shaw's mother holds it over the alcoholic Iselin. Throughout the film the shift in whom holds sway over whom varies, becomes incestuous and bewildering. In a key monologue before the convention, Eleanor plots to use Shaw against the presidential candidate, to put her husband in power, who she will use to crush the Russian threat. Warnings of layers, lies, power and fronts are indicative of TMC.
Rated 24 Nov 2010
81
78th
Sinatra: "I never understood what 'more or less' means."
Rated 06 Apr 2011
85
75th
Frankenheimer's Cold War thriller evolves from a slow, stodgy opening into a thrilling exploration of what really is the biggest threat to a country's security - ideology or unchecked greed. The film's pulp novel roots lend to goofiness and exaggeration (Shaw's villainous mother wouldn't be out of place in Captain Planet, though Lansbury is fantastic), but Frankenheimer tempers that with the utter certainty of his direction, playing it halfway between hallucinatory and reality.
Rated 29 Jul 2011
85
92nd
After four decades, it remains gripping, with strong violence scenes and Angela Lansbury as one of the most cold-hearted female characters of Hollywood.
Rated 19 Mar 2012
89
93rd
The acting is at times not that solid, but if you look past that, you will see an amazing, very tense and good movie. What a story
Rated 14 Dec 2012
75
81st
This is a pretty solid political thriller. The story's really cool, and I wish the director had stuck with the necessities of it because the film is kinda drawn out and becomes slightly boring a few times. However, when it's good, it's great. The climactic scene was full of tension and genuinely surprised me. The acting's a little questionable at times, but the plot is engaging and the direction is top-notch.
Rated 31 Jan 2013
73
44th
I had a problem getting into this movie, it seemed to drag it's feet. The brainwashing scene stood out, but I managed to forget the rest.
Rated 19 Aug 2013
95
93rd
An absolutely fantastic paranoid Cold War thriller. Beautifully directed, cleverly edited and with great performances, especially from Angela Lansbury and Raymond Shaw.
Rated 03 Nov 2013
70
68th
Has a few side plots that don't go anywhere and is a typical example of the evil overbearing mother garbage but it keeps up the tension to the end, even if I guessed what was gonna happen. The main characters are pretty good even if the plot treatment of them is a bit weird.
Rated 24 Dec 2013
85
75th
A dark and deeply cynical political thriller. The action scenes may be a little calm for todays taste but this is more of a psychological ride than any type of shoot em up. Some amazing performances, particularly from Angela Lansbury (as you've never seen her before). Still has the power to shock today and is well worth watching.
Rated 09 Jan 2014
80
75th
Frankenheimer's directing prowess really showed itself early on in its career here. The second half of the movie boasts wonderfully dynamic cinematography; his experiments with one-point perspective and diagonal eye-lines lend themselves to a memorably moody picture. His emphasis on nonverbal acting adds to this. The film has its flaws: it has several superfluous characters (most prominently Leigh) and a surfeit of Orientalism (although I quite liked Dheigh), but the positives outweigh these.
Rated 01 Mar 2014
68
83rd
One of the few times I am forced to take Sinatra as a serious actor. And Lansbury as something other than a biddy old lady. Lots of good performances completely against type. Unfortunately I saw the new one first - but it did lower my expectations only to have them easily exceeded. Why did they make a new one - the MCCain election campaign has lots of theories on why!
Rated 23 May 2014
88
89th
Thundering political drama that effortlessly conjures and sustains unease throughout its running time. The 'indoctrination scene' which the film uses as a centerpiece, returning to several times, is wonderfully surreal. I might have wished for a less cartoony, James Bond - esque portrayal of the communists, as well as a more sensitive portrayal of race in general. Why not make 'the other side' seem more real and less like a paranoid fantasy? Nevertheless, a very strong watch.
Rated 12 Jul 2014
80
78th
One might say of Angela Lansbury in this film that "she" was trying to "write" and "murder." This is the worst thing I've ever written.
Rated 11 Aug 2014
95
92nd
Frankenheimer absorbs us and exercises our minds by simultaneously showing multiple perspectives of the same dream and the real-life effects of it. It is a mystery where the process of deduction comes not initially from physical proof but from decoding and analyzing a dream. This dream is at the heart of the movie, a redefining political thriller responding in a moody and sensory way to the Cold War paranoia of its time.
Rated 20 May 2016
93
91st
There's so much for me to love about this movie, but I don't think I have ever seen a better political thriller. The dream sequence was my favorite scene and converted me to a John Frankenheimer fan. Although the performances could be a bit overly dramatic at times, I thought Frank Sinatra (Bennett Marco) and Laurence Harvey (Raymond Shaw) did a pretty good job.
Rated 22 Sep 2016
83
81st
Not without a few pacing and other issues here and there, but it builds to a great climax. Sinatra makes sweating profusely riveting.
Rated 08 Nov 2016
81
73rd
Utterly wild.
Rated 28 Jan 2018
63
54th
Cold war conspiracies are of little interest to this viewer, and while T.M.C is better than average, it isn't a patch on Seconds, another paranoid Frankenheimer thriller from the 60's that is more formally inventive and thematically rich. No matter how well made T.M.C is or how intriguing certain plot elements are, there is a silliness to how it plays out that dates it. It's pretty tame nowadays, but Lansbury is the clear standout in a thoroughly atypical role, and Sinatra does his best work.
Rated 22 Sep 2018
89
94th
It holds up in terms of watchability and tension. The plot is excellently paced and the story is harrowing. I don't know how this passed censors during its original run. This isn't some cheesy 60's flick, it's genuinely good in any year.
Rated 10 Nov 2018
80
80th
Bennett Marco: "Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life."
Rated 23 Jan 2019
84
87th
Sinatra's character is clearly supposed to be tall, handsome, scholarly, and suave. Sinatra is not. Despite this, and some mismanaged/dangling plot strands, The Manchurian Candidate manages to succeed as a riveting political thriller from an era when almost none were being made, or made well.
Rated 27 Mar 2019
85
73rd
The Citizen Kane of thrillers--an original that spawned several imitators in story & approach. I appreciate the timely cinematic styles--be it the Hitchockian (an overbearing mother and morally ambiguous blonde) or '50's sci-fi (the anxiety of internal threats against an empire). Sadly, the commentary is still true in an American culture that demands little introspection on its war machine & politics. However, a few points are lost to the slow open & the "3 takes at most" performance of Sinatra.
Rated 16 May 2021
70
52nd
I feel like I've read about this film so much before actually watching it, because the premise is one that lends itself to discussion. Also, always love reading Wikipedia after watching a film. Got to read this interesting tidbit: "In the novel, Eleanor Iselin had been sexually abused by her father as a child. Before the dramatic climax, she uses her son's brainwashing to have sex with him." The kiss certainly was something, but oh boy, imagine THIS film in 1962. Even now, really.
Rated 13 Jan 2007
81
55th
Propaganda done interesting.
Rated 21 Jan 2007
60
59th
Yeah, govment is evil, and such
Rated 12 Feb 2007
30
2nd
Terribly, terribly tedious.
Rated 13 Feb 2007
75
89th
Excellent film.
Rated 26 Feb 2007
80
93rd
Angela Lansbury's chilling portrayal alone was worth the price of the ticket.
Rated 19 Mar 2007
88
81st
This is a great thrill ride that is better every time you see it. One of the most original and thought provoking stories I've ever encountered in a movie. Very creative.
Rated 12 Nov 2023
45
33rd
This was the breakthrough political paranoia thriller and started a trend. It hits the nerve center of what Americans considered their threatened values at the time, and their fear of foreign manipulation, while channeling Hitchcock. It's also rather preposterous, xenophobic, and features some sub-par acting (not Lansbury's but Sinatra and some of the others).
Rated 14 Aug 2007
90
95th
Endlessly interesting.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
45
34th
Fundamentally silly.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
64
16th
good
Rated 14 Aug 2007
83
86th
A well written and interesting film.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
88
82nd
Really really good. I liked it.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
85
94th
Intelligent and lasting, it's the kind of film that only gets better with each repeated viewing.
Rated 26 Nov 2007
90
88th
Pretty damn good. It's interesting how some movies pass the test of time, this one is one of them. Definitely worth watching, will watch it again.
Rated 24 Jun 2022
95
97th
I can't imagine anyone but Frankenheimer pulling this off in a way that would be nearly as effective at the time this was made. His style was often strange and unsettling, which could result in some pretty odd or unsatisfying films. I think it was paramount that he had just the right script to work with, and The Manchurian Candidate and Seconds fit him like a glove. Dark, gripping, hypnotic and affecting.
Rated 01 Mar 2008
85
76th
# 294
Rated 17 Mar 2008
86
90th
Great movie that will keep you guessing till the end. A true classic
Rated 08 Jun 2008
9
88th
Do yourselves a favour: watch this before watching the remake. Or make things easier for yourself and just watch this.
Rated 13 Jun 2008
90
66th
An absolute classic especially relevant today. But, Frank Sinatra was not a great actor here.
Rated 27 Feb 2022
81
62nd
Well shot and edited, and surprisingly funny in moments. Why is Janet Leigh in this? Side plots such as this keep it from being the ideal lean thriller that Seconds is.
Rated 04 Dec 2008
83
51st
The Manchurian Candidate is an odd film for me to rank. While I didn't enjoy it as much as the remake, I have to try to understand to appreciate everything about it because I saw the remake first. And so, people, I implore you: if you know you are about to see a remake of an American classic, see the classic first. Or you'll wind up confused and angry like me.
Rated 19 Dec 2008
84
68th
329
Rated 31 May 2009
89
68th
Brilliant. Dated but still good. Best Sinatra ever.
Rated 21 Jun 2009
50
23rd
Fun movie to watch, never really understood it as a classic. Also, yellow fever, red than dead, buy us bonds yadda yadda.
Rated 25 Nov 2009
96
99th
Wonderful movie, great acting, outstanding plot.
Rated 10 Dec 2009
100
98th
5/5
Rated 13 Jan 2010
82
64th
364
Rated 07 Jun 2010
7
64th
An intelligent film full of wit that is bought down by some notably average acting. Unfortunately drawn out to the extent that I found it dull.
Rated 09 Jun 2010
79
65th
Certainly better than the remake. Great story suffers a bit from mediocre acting and a director who fails to keep up the tension.
Rated 26 Dec 2010
88
87th
88.000
Rated 03 Feb 2011
46
14th
Sunk by an expository, unfocused script. And it gets so hammy, especially the scenes with the commies. It asks you to feel a certain way about its premise before really letting you have a good reason to, or get to know anyone. Sinatra is stiff and blah. He and Janet Leigh are both superfluous anyway; the inclusion of these two characters actually might be the film's fatal flaw. The mystery is inorganic and forced together like a badly cut jigsaw puzzle. Still, Angela Lansbury is terrific.
Rated 24 Apr 2011
88
80th
The tone of Frankenheimer's films is odd compared to their contemporaries. He makes a refreshingly different breed of paranoid thrillers, and this one is particularly well shot and driven by a fascinating concept.
Rated 14 Jun 2011
80
91st
Lansbury is fantastic, but Harvey's horrible over-acting nearly ruined the film for me. The story is tremendous and strange, which bodes well as time passes.
Rated 14 Oct 2011
85
76th
Janet Leigh's character served no purpose in this movie.
Rated 23 Nov 2011
90
92nd
Every now and then I watch a movie that puts into perspective the inspiration of so, so many movies I've seen throughout the years. This is one of them. It's clear right from the start that this film has had a tremendous influence on the structure of thrillers ever since its release. It's an intelligent, clever, intense movie with some amazing performances and some brilliant political subtext. The phrase "ahead of its time" is thrown around a lot, but it applies to this movie more than most.
Rated 30 Nov 2011
82
64th
#367
Rated 18 Jun 2024
70
53rd
Interesting film. The bits with the agents from USSR and China are the best. Frank Sinatra can't act and Janet Leigh is utterly pointless.
Rated 27 May 2012
82
63rd
The O.G. Manchurian Candidate was a very interesting movie. I think Sinatra was really, really good in this movie. I have never seen him act before this, so I don't have much to compare it to but I really liked his very subtle style of acting. Who really surprised me was Angela Lansbury wow... what a sick and devious woman! I liked seeing her as a younger actress but I had to laugh that she still has a grandmotherly voice! A slow film until the end. Great twist made it worth it for sure!
Rated 08 Nov 2012
90
73rd
89.500
Rated 05 Mar 2013
95
93rd
This is a prime example of a movie that is not what you expect it to be and for all the right reasons. It's simply amazing and Sinatra could have been up there with Bogart if he pursued only acting.
Rated 12 Mar 2013
85
80th
A visually stylish and surprisingly unconventional thriller. It may not be entirely watertight as far realism or believability is concerned, but that's besides the point as the moments of expressionism (particularly in the impulsive way characters act), symbolism, dark humour and dramatic irony all make the film so much more interesting than realism could have. Angela Lansbury is incredible here.
Rated 01 May 2013
85
92nd
Soguk savas, hipnoz, politika, siyaset, kore savasi, 1952, (the second, jacob ladder), olaylari cözmeye calisan asker, unformel dedektiflik, entrika
Rated 01 Aug 2013
5
73rd
the roderick heath piece on this is particularly good: https://filmfreedonia.com/2017/02/06/the-manchurian-candidate-1962/
Rated 23 Dec 2013
70
64th
7- recommended, good
Rated 01 Jan 2024
60
29th
Movies from this era have some of the worst written women characters I've ever seen in movies. I thought the woman who married Frank Sinatra's character was a double agent cause her actions were so unbelievable to the point where espionage was the only explanation.
Rated 08 Mar 2017
39
21st
An intriguing plot, but riddled with major flaws. Massive plot holes, farcical situations and coincidences, some terribly conceived scenes and bizarre dialog keeps the story from being believable or taken seriously.
Rated 16 May 2024
77
33rd
Some moderately compelling elements here, but I found it somewhat tedious at times. The acting was not always great (besides Lansbury), and the camera was sometimes irritatingly out of focus. Here's what I liked: Some classy deep focus, the use of television sets to add depth to the dramatic presentation, and fantastic brainwashing sequence.
Rated 06 Jul 2021
55
53rd
Twisted tale that's more satirical farce than noir thriller. Frankenheimer employs a sense of strangeness in set design, camera angles, editing, and performances to hint that he's depicting a world that isn't quite right. The real world is off while the dream world is more realistic. His television background makes many shots seem claustrophobic, adding to the ongoing tension. Performances, particularly Sinatra's, teeter between melodramatic and bad-on-purpose. A head trip worth dissecting.
Rated 15 Mar 2021
80
90th
vibe check: kill the maternal superego de palma style
Rated 31 Mar 2021
70
46th
Frank Sinatra gets activated by Janet Leigh to stop the Teapot from Beauty and the Beast from starting a pseudo-McCarthyist political takeover
Rated 09 Apr 2021
79
44th
I guess it has its historical importance and all, but to me as a film it mostly felt tedious

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