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The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Film Studies

Cinema Classics Seminar:
The Manchurian Candidate

Hollywood Grows Up
Thursday, October 6, 2022, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm  
Instructor: Paul Wright, Ph.D., Writing and Narrative Arts, Cabrini University

John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate (1962), based on Richard Condon’s 1959 novel of the same name, remains as inventive, chilling, and resonant as ever. But it is easy to forget how daring an experiment it really was, boldly hybridizing film noir, psychological studies of figures compromised by their memories (à la Hitchcock films like Spellbound and Psycho), and the emerging conspiracy thriller (e.g., Three Days of the Condor and Marathon Man), which would come to dominate the 1970s.

Far more than the sum of these parts, The Manchurian Candidate arguably defined a subgenre all its own: the postmodern, through-the-looking-glass, nigh-satirical political thriller in which ideologies are at last reduced to convenient smokescreens for the raw exercise of power by those who pull the strings (e.g., The Parallax View and Network). The conspiracy animating this tale—the assassination of a presidential candidate by a man brainwashed by communist enemies of the United States—surely made a splash when it was released amidst the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Yet for all this Cold War context, the film itself is far less interested in the ideologies at play than the tormented characters who, genuinely or not, claim to embody them. The center of this film is not so much our dogged lead, Frank Sinatra’s Major Marco, as it is the uniquely unlikable protagonist, Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey); the film dares you not to empathize with this unapologetically self-centered patrician. And matching Harvey every step of the way is Angela Lansbury as Shaw’s driven mother. The Manchurian Candidate is in many ways far more fascinated with the Shakespearean and Freudian dimensions of this mother-son relationship than with the conspiracy itself, and in this way, it highlights the exploitable fragility and narcissism of the human psyche as something incapable of being shielded by even the most deep-seated ideology.

Viewed through this lens, The Manchurian Candidate is less a film about threats from abroad than those inexplicable dissonances within each of us. And it is this exceptionally human side of the tale that has kept the film alive in our cultural imagination for six decades and counting.

Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Additional showtimes can be found here.


Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those in attendance receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink. Please note: the screening associated with this seminar will be open to the public, as well.

If you are unable to attend this seminar on site, you can rent and stream it in our Remote Classroom beginning a week after the event date.

Please email BMFI Programs and Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.

 


Course Information

$25 for members, $35 for non-members

On Site

Schedule
  • Thursday, October 6 · 6:30 pm
Projections

PROJECTIONS 63
September – December 2022

 

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