(Review originally written at 21 February 2011)

Watching "The Manchurian Candidate" doesn't feel at all like you are watching an old fashioned thriller. It's quite modern with its approach and story and definitely a movie that seemed to be decades ahead of its time.

It's really a movie that gets made by its story. It by no means is an exciting movie action-wise, simply because there is more talking and set-up in this movie than anything else really but the movie itself manages to still become exciting nevertheless, all due to its well written and original story. It features lots of classic thriller themes in it and of course also takes advantage of the cold war scare that was very much alive among the people, during the '60's. It plays on some of the fears and paranoia aspects of that period. The actual story itself is actually being far from likely but yet it works out all within the movie, due to the way it all gets told by director John Frankenheimer and its wonderful cast.

The movie also has plenty of surprises in it and chooses to tell its story slowly and reveal not too much about its main plot from the start on already but instead do so in a more slow but steady way. Step by step the movie its mystery gets revealed but not without adding in plenty of surprising twists as well, as well as its unforgettable awesome ending.

It's a very serious movie, which actually does make the movie a realistic one, which in return enhances the movie its tension and other thriller aspects. In lots of ways this movie is being very similar, in its style and set-up, to political thrillers being made this present day.

Frank Sinatra never was a person that impressed as an actor, not even with his Oscar winning performance for "From Here to Eternity" but I must say that he was being simply great within this movie. He's not being a typical or classic hero within this movie and he's actually being a very humane character, so also with all of its flaws. Laurence Harvey is also great and he plays the true main character of this movie, in my opinion. Also really fun to see Angela Lansbury already playing a mother character in this movie. A role she could still play just as well and convincingly now, almost 50 years later. Was this woman ever young?

But I really don't regard this movie a a perfect one. The story gets to confusing for that at times and there are also lots of moments in the movie that just coma across as pointless and completely redundant, such as the entire Janet Leigh character. Seems that the movie had too much story to handle and to cram in, which might very well be the case, since this movie got based on a novel.

Still a special thriller after all these years, due to how 'modern' and effective it is with its story and overall approach.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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