John Frankenheimer, The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
- John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate is a study of the psychological effects of McCarthyism, as well as a parody of Cold War fanaticism. In Frankenheimer's world, the far right becomes the tool of the far left, as Communist infiltrators use popular paranoia against Communism to destroy American constitutional government.
- Questions to Think About:
- 1) How is Joseph McCarthy (represented by Senator John Iselin) depicted in the film?
- 2) The Manchurian Candidate is a great example of "momism," as cautioned against by Philip Wylie in Generation of Vipers (1955). How is momism reflected in Angela Lansbury's character? What are the dangers of overly powerful mothers, according to anti-momist films like Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Psycho (1960), and The Manchurian Candidate?
- 3) What light does the momism debate shed on the construction and meaning of categories of gender--both femininity and masculinity--in the 1950s and 1960s in the US?
- 4) How does the film present the relationship between Chinese and Soviet Communists, and other Communists? Does this reflect the reality of those relations, or only U.S. opinions of those relations?
Further resources and readings:
- Tim Dirks's Review of the film, with dialogue (excellent resource).
- IMDB resources for the film.
- Nora Sayre, Running Time: Films of the Cold War (1982)
- Richard Condon, The Manchurian Candidate (1959)
Prepared by Professor Catherine Lavender for HST 622 (Cold War America), at The College of Staten Island of The City University of New York, Summer Semester 2000. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified: Thursday 13 July 2000.