AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Manchurian Candidate
Director: John Frankenheimer (Dir)
Release Date:   1962
Duration (in mins):  126
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Cast: Frank Sinatra  (Bennett Marco)
  Laurence Harvey  (Raymond Shaw)
  Janet Leigh  (Rosie)
 

Summary: During the Korean War, members of a U. S. Army patrol are captured and taken to Manchuria by Chinese Communists who brainwash them into believing that Raymond Shaw, a mother-dominated sergeant, has led a successful action against the Communists. Back in the United States, Raymond is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on the strength of his comrades' testimony. Actually he is now a puppet of the Communists; at the sight of a Queen of Diamonds, his mind is triggered into obeying any instruction, retaining no knowledge of his subsequent actions. Meanwhile, another member of the patrol, Bennett Marco, begins having nightmares in which he vaguely recalls what happened in Korea. Suspicious, he starts an investigation and discovers Raymond's strange reaction to the playing card. Unknown to Raymond, the key Communist behind the U. S. operation is his mother, a politically ambitious woman who plans to have her son shoot the presidential nominee during a rally at Madison Square Garden, thus paving the way for her husband, Senator Iselin, the vice-presidential nominee, to take control of the government. As part of the Communist master plan, she uses the cards to force Raymond into killing both his wife, Jocie, and his father-in-law, Senator Jordan, a crusading liberal and his mother's chief political enemy. On the night of the rally, Marco confronts Raymond with a handful of the cards and tries to convince him that he no longer has control of his own mind, but Raymond follows his mother's instructions and takes a rifle to a deserted projection booth. At the last moment, however, the hypnotic spell breaks and he kills his mother and stepfather and then takes his own life. 

Distribution Company: United Artists
Production Company: M. C. Productions
Director: John Frankenheimer (Dir)
  Joseph Behm (Asst dir)
  David Salven (Asst dir)
  Read Killgore (Asst dir)
Producer: George Axelrod (Prod)
  John Frankenheimer (Prod)
  Howard W. Koch (Exec prod)
Writer: George Axelrod (Scr)

Subject Major: Ambition
  Amnesia
  Assassination
  Brainwashing
  Chinese
  Communists
  Conspiracy
  Conventions (Gatherings)
  Dreams
  Fathers-in-law
  Family relationships
  Hypnotism
  Korean War, 1950-1953
  Madison Square Garden (New York City)
  Manchuria (China)
  Masterminds
  Matricide
  Medal of Honor
  Oedipal complexes
  Cards
  Politicians
  Spies
  Stepfathers
  Suicide
  United States. Army
  United States. Congress
  Veterans
  War heroes

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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