I’d never seen either version of The Manchurian Candidate. Until tonight. Throughout the movie, all I could think was:
Angela Lansbury is really Dick Cheney (Mrs. Islen)
James Gregory is really George W. Bush (Senator Islen)
I hope I don’t need to explain why!
The 1962 edition is a surprisingly sophisticated movie. Other than To Kill a Mockingbird, I always felt that most movies made before about 1967 were quite simple. But the original Manchurian Candidate is a movie fighting both McCarthyism (“I have before me a list of 254 Communists…”) and Nixon (notice the fop-sweat when Harvey and Sinatra got nervous?). It’s a surprisingly good movie, and I regret not having seen it before.
It’s probably too late, but I urge anyone planning to see the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate to see the 1962 version first. Remember, this movie was shot about two years before Kennedy was assasinated, and only seven years after the McCarthy hearings were considered more dangerous than Communism itself.