John Frankenheimer

T. it.: Va’ e uccidi; Sog.: dall’omonimo romanzo (1959) di Richard Condon; Scen.: George Axelrod; F.: Lionel Lindon; Mo.: Ferris Webster; Scgf.: Richard Sylbert; Cost.: Moss Mabry; Eff. Spec.: Paul Pollard; Mu.: David Amram; Su.: Joe Edmondson; Int.: Frank Sinatra (Bennett Marco), Laurence Harvey (Raymond Shaw), Janet Leigh (Rosie), Angela Lan- sbury (la madre di Raymond), James Gregory (senatore John Iselin), Henry Silva (Chunjin), Leslie Parrish (Jocie Jordan), John McGiver (senatore Thomas Jordan), Khigh Dhiegh (Yen Lo), James Edwards (caporale Melvin), Douglas Henderson (Colonnello), Albert Paulsen (Zilkov), Barry Kelley (Segretario della difesa), Whit Bissell (ufficiale medico), Robert Riordan (candidato); Prod.: John Frankenheimer, George Axelrod, M.C. Productions, per United Artists 35mm D.: 126’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The first film I really instigated and had complete control over was The Manchurian Candidate…. [It] was not a subject that most studios wanted to make…. As soon as Sinatra said he wanted to do it, we could have shot it at any studio in town…. [We] shot the entire film in 39 days. … I had a very clear concept of the entire movie due partially to George Axelrod…. We…talked out the whole film. I was also fortunate to have, as an Art Director, Richard Sylbert…. He’s an imaginative Art Director and he built most of the sets for [the film] in the studio. Everybody thinks it was done on location. We did the Madison Square Garden scenes in just four days….

I thought that Condon’s [novel] was one of the best books I had ever read…. It had great social and political significance for me at the time, and it has certainly been – unfortunately – a horribly prophetic film. It’s frightening what has happened in our country since that film was made. It’s amazing how often the picture is referred to in terms of [brainwashing] techniques… George Axelrod…used to say to me, “This could really very easily happen.” A lot of the things we just hinted at in the film. I spent a great deal of time looking at newsreels of political conventions, going through all the books on brain- washing and the Korean War. Then we started to get absorbed in the story and realized that what we had was something that could very well be a lot closer to the truth than many people imagined….

On another level we believed that we lived in a society that was brainwashed. And I wanted to do something about it…. More and more I think that our society is becoming manipulated and controlled. Here was an individual trying to fight the inner conflicts which tormented him…. Also, the most important aspect is that this country was just recovering from the McCarthy era and nothing had ever been filmed about it. I wanted to do a picture that showed both how ludicrous McCarthy-style far-right politics are and how dangerous the far-left is also, how they were really exactly the same thing, and the idiocy of it all. I wanted to show that, and I think we did.

John Frankenheimer, in Gerald Pratley, The Films of John Frankenheimer (Lehigh University Press/Cygnus Press, 1998)


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