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I just finished watching "Psycho" for the third or fourth time - enough so that I was able to study details instead of worrying about the plot. People can talk about "Citizen Kane," or "Vertigo," or <pick your choice> as "Best Ever," but for me, personally, since "Psycho" scared the holy hell out of me when I was about twelve-years old (introduced by, of all people, Count Gore de Vol - I guess I first saw it in 1973), this is a film that has appealed to my most basal childhood terrors, and also still resonates with me as a 57-year-old man. I suppose the ending is now dated, since *everyone* knows about "what happened," and also the concepts are no longer novel with the audience - in that respect, I can see "Vertigo" remaining fresher in the public eye - but for me, I might have to pick "Psycho" as my all-time favorite movie. Maybe. Here are a couple of interesting details that are in no way spoilers: In Norman's bedroom, there sits on the turntable, of all things, Beethoven's Eroica Symphony. Why? Maybe the proximity of the word, which actually means "Hero" and not "Erotica," but if anyone knows for sure, please chime in. When Norman first realizes "what happened," he recoils in horror, knocking a picture of a stuffed bird off the wall and onto the floor. The penultimate person you see in the film, opening and closing the door, is an uncredited Ted Knight: Blink, and you'll miss him:
When I was in my mid-20s (maybe in the late 80s), "The Manchurian Candidate" made a revival on the big screen, and I saw it, and really enjoyed it while also thinking it was something almost campy. Now that I've seen it a second time, I realize that I was too uneducated to appreciate the film - this was an incredibly well-done movie, somehow able to take the absolutely unbelievable - bordering on the ridiculous - and make it seem positively realistic and possible. For me, The Manchurian Candidate is almost like a "Greatest Hits" album of actors, and I cannot imagine how Frank Sinatra - and for that matter, Lawrence Harvey - weren't nominated for Best Actor (the great Angela Lansbury was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, which is reasonable, but she was outperformed by both of these men). It says a lot that The Manchurian Candidate would speak louder and more clearly, and also be more believable, to an educated 55-year-old man than an enthusiastic, but ultimately ignorant 24-year-old boy. Back in the 1980s, I considered myself very knowledgeable about film for an amateur; what I wasn't knowledgeable about was life itself. Back then, I distinctly remember talking with a Vietnam Veteran, who made an off-the-cuff remark to the extent of, "I really have trouble watching that stuff, because it messes with my mind," and I can easily see how he thought that ... now; back then, I didn't really understand. I just cannot get over how this movie managed to make something so utterly implausible seem so incredibly realistic and possible. Although I had no memory of how the film ended, I did manage to guess the ending sequence with a high degree of accuracy, but though I knew what was coming (or thought I did), nothing was ruined or compromised - the film ended exactly how it needed to - it was a heart-wrenching, but beautiful, ending to a heart-wrenching film. The Manchurian Candidate is a *big* film, with *big*, *bold* ideas and messages, and it succeeds on that level, but what makes it truly great is the individual-level, human tragedy that unfolds before our eyes. The irony of a sabotage-themed work invoking such strong feelings of patriotism - all without overtly manipulating the viewer in that regard - is amazing in-and-of itself. I'm not sure how "good" this film is rated by critics, but this is absolutely one of the most important Cold War movies I've ever seen. Sadly, people who are any younger than I am will simply not be able to relate to this in the way that I can, as my formative years were spent during the apogee of the Cold War - in elementary school, we'd crawl under our desks to simulate how we'd act in case of a nuclear-bomb attack. Although I suppose this generation of children has their own cross to bear, with being trained how to deal with school shootings - the more things change, the more they stay the same. There is a *ton* of symbolism in this movie - much of it obvious, some of it more subtle, but it's probably nearly impossible to pick it all out. You could watch this film a second time, just looking for symbols, and not waste your time. An absolutely classic film in several regards, and the best work I've ever seen from both Frank Sinatra and Lawrence Harvey.