Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

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Last night, I watched, for the umpteenth time, The Manchurian Candidate (1962) with Lawrence Harvey, Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury. I never get tired of it. I always look forward to seeing Lawrence Harvey dispatch his tormentors, especially "that idiot" his step-father Senator Johnny What's-His-Name. The opening scenes are dark and confused, just like things really were in 1950, only a few years after The Great Victory of '45. The Manchurian Candidate (1962) is so very different from all those great WW II movies, then and now. We were the good guys. We knew who were the bad guys. We had on our side Van Johnson, Bing and Bob, the Andrews Sisters, James Stewart, James Cagney and Gary Cooper. Let's not forget "Duke" Wayne. Winston and FDR were our leaders. Chiang Kai-shek and Stalin were our friends. We nobly fought evil — and won! The world was so different then. Or maybe we only thought things were different and made sense before 1950.

Perhaps things didn't make sense then. Perhaps what we were told and what we believed was a lie. Perhaps we keep telling ourselves these lies over-and-over so we won't ever have to examine them. I found very disturbing Mr. Nowiki's "We Are All Basterds Now". Maybe we have been basterds [sic] all along, but we were afraid to look in the mirror. That is frightening.

Maybe we are, all of us, like Lawrence Harvey and Frank Sinatra. Maybe we have all been programmed — not so much by their leaders but by our own leaders — to do evil. What do you think we are doing today?

Here's the Korean War:
Here's The Manchurian Candidate:
Here's We Are All Basterds Now:

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