The Manchurian Candidate

One of the great texts of the Cold War, John Frankenheimer’s 1962 The Manchurian Candidate features a surprisingly nuanced, low-key Frank Sinatra, the straight-to-the-point sexuality of Janet Leigh, the brainwashed torment of assassin/war hero Laurence Harvey, and the scariest mother in screen history, Miss Angela Lansbury. Meryl Streep and Liev Schreiber actually did a fine job as the killer and his manipulative Commie mommy in the underrated 2004 remake by Jonathan Demme, but this one sets the gold standard for black comedic Cold War paranoia. Adapted from the Richard Condon novel, the film has a dusting of disgust on its negative: both right-wingers and Adlai Stevenson eggheads are made to look equally ridiculous. And the 360-degree rotating Red Army tea party with Harvey and his fellow GIs, captured in Korea, remains a marvel of psychic disorientation—it’s funny, horrifying, too freaky even for Abu Ghraib. (Also, unrelated: There would be no Jason Bourne without this movie.) The United Artists retrospective continues all this week through Wed., May 21. See the SIFF Web site for your last chance to see Midnight Cowboy, Raging Bull, Dr. No, and Last Tango in Paris before this year’s festival begins. SIFF Cinema, 321 Mercer St. (McCaw Hall), 448-2186, www.siff.net. $5–$10. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Mon., May 19, 7:30 p.m., 2008

 
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