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The Manchurian Candidate Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100


    One of the wildest fabrications any author has ever tried to palm off on a gullible public. But the fascinating thing is that, from uncertain premise to shattering conclusion, one does not question plausibility of the events being rooted in their own cinematic reality.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Here is a movie that was made more than 25 years ago, and it feels as if it were made yesterday. Not a moment of The Manchurian Candidate lacks edge and tension and a cynical spin. [Re-release]

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Sheila Benson

    The Manchurian Candidate proves that its fascination is intact. [12 Jan 1998, p.C1; Re-Release]

  • 100

    out of 100

    The New Yorker Pauline Kael

    It may be the most sophisticated political satire ever made in Hollywood. (As quoted by Roger Ebert)

  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    This gonzo satiric thriller is a riveting portrait of early-60's paranoia. [15 Nov 1996, p.82]

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Classic Cold War satirical thriller stands test of time.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Manchurian Candidate is the 1962 Cold War thriller starring Frank Sinatra as a Korean War veteran who begins to suspect that he and the other soldiers in his platoon were brainwashed. There is gun violence, as some characters are murdered in cold blood, shown falling to the floor dying. Another character is strangled to death. As a movie from the early 1960s, there is frequent cigarette smoking and drinking. The political intrigue, Cold War satire, and intricacies of the plot's twists and turns will make this best appreciated by teens, and as a classic movie from the Cold War era, it should inspire lively discussion about its relevance to today's world.

  • One year after its release, in the wake of John F. Kennedy's assassination, this film was widely rumored to be prevented from being shown in theaters by lead actor Frank Sinatra, as well as by the studio who made the film. While there are contradictory reports as to the truth of these rumors, why might such a story be considered plausible to some?
  • As, in part, a satire of the times, this film was protested by some as "Communist propaganda," and by others as "Right-Wing propaganda." Do you think either side has a valid point, or do you think those who protested are the embodiment of the very thing being satirized in the film?
  • What does this film say to today's audiences about ideology, ideologues, politicians, and the treatment of solders? How can a movie from fifty years ago have relevance to today?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: Puts forth a forceful message condemning dirty politics, hypocrisy, war-mongering, and deceit.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Major Bennett Marco is an avid reader, and one who will stop at nothing to find out the truth about what happened to him and his fellow soldiers while fighting in the Korean War.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Gun violence. Characters are shown being shot and killed. Wartime violence, as soldiers fight in battle. Two characters get into a fist fight, knocking into furniture, breaking glass, and sustaining injuries. A character is strangled to death.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Early in the film, soldiers are shown cavorting in a Korean brothel during the Korean War.

  • language false2

    Language: "Hell" is as strong as it gets.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: As a movie from the early 1960s, there is frequent cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking. In one scene, the two main characters drink alcohol together, and act intoxicated as they open up about their lives.