"It’s a terrible thing to hate your mother. But I didn’t always hate her. When I was a child, I only kind of disliked her."
Description: Laurence Harvey as Staff Sgt. Raymond Shaw whose controlling mother (Angela Lansbury) is behind an assassination attempt on a U. S. Presidential hopeful in the political thriller The Manchurian Candidate (1962).
Sgt. Raymond Shaw won a Medal of Honor for action taken to save his men while fighting in the Korean War. But, in reality, his heroism was only a false memory implanted in his mind as well as other American soldiers who were captured and taken to Communist China for brainwashing session.
"His brain has not only been washed, as they say... It has been dry cleaned." - Dr. Yen Lo
Among other soldiers whose memories were altered is Captain Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) who was later promoted to Major. After returning to America, he began to have nightmares featuring brainwashing session that culminate in Raymond Shaw killing one of his fellow soldiers when commanded to do so by an enemy agent.
At first, Marco believes his nightmare, although vivid, is just that, a nightmare cause by his wartime trauma, but when he discovers that other men who served in his platoon were having the same nightmares, he brings it to the attention of Military Intelligence who doubt his suspicions in the beginning, but later consider the nightmares links to a more diabolical scheme to turn US soldiers into assassins.
"Intelligence officer. Stupidity officer is more like it. Pentagon wants to open a Stupidity Division, they know who they can get to lead it." - Bennett Marco
As Marco digs deeper into the affair, he discovers an association between the Red Queen of Diamonds playing card that triggers those brainwashed to act against their will. When he discovers the link, he tries to help Raymond Shaw who has been conditioned to carry out an assassination plan that involved his own mother who was in reality a Communist agent bent on using her own son to kill a presidential nominee and in the interim gain the White House for her second husband Senator. To desensitize Shaw and break the brainwashing, Marco constructs a deck of playing cards that consist only of Queen of Diamond cards.
|Shaw:||They can make me do anything, Ben, can't they? Anything.|
|Marco:||We'll see, kid. We'll see what they can do and we'll see what we can do. So the red queen is our baby. Well, take a look at this, kid... [fans deck and keeps holding up the cards] 52 of them! Take a good look at 'em, Raymond, look at 'em, and while you're looking, listen. This is me, Marco, talking. 52 red queens and me are telling you... you know what we're telling you? It's over! The links, the beautifully conditioned links are smashed. They're smashed as of now because we say so, because we say they are to be smashed. We're busting up the joint, we're tearing out all the wires. We're busting it up so good all the queen's horses and all the queen's men will never put old Raymond back together again. You don't work any more! That's an order. Anybody invites you to a game of solitaire, you tell 'em sorry, buster, the ball game is over.|
Unfortunately, Raymond's mother had already triggered her son with a Queen of Diamonds card and in his suggestive, hypnotic state, she told him what he had to do to carry out the plan to kill the presidential nominee at an upcoming convention and thus set in motion her plan to gain the white house.
"It has been decided that you will be dressed as a priest, to help you get away in the pandemonium afterwards. Chunjin will give you a two-piece Soviet Army sniper's rifle that fits nicely into a special bag. There's a spotlight booth that won't be in use. It's up under the roof on the Eighth Avenue side of the Garden. You will have absolutely clear, protected shooting. You are to shoot the presidential nominee through the head. And Johnny will rise gallantly to his feet and lift Ben Arthur's body in his arms, stand in front of the microphones and begin to speak. The speech is short. But it's the most rousing speech I've ever read. It's been worked on, here and in Russia, on and off, for over eight years. I shall force someone to take the body away from him and Johnny will really hit those microphones and those cameras with blood all over him, fighting off anyone who tries to help him, defending America even if it means his own death, rallying a nation of television viewers to hysteria, to sweep us up into the White House with powers that will make martial law seem like anarchy! Now, this is very important. I want the nominee to be dead two minutes after he begins his acceptance speech - depending on his reading time under pressure. You are to hit him right at the point that he finishes the phrase, "Nor would I ask of any fellow American in defense of his freedom that which I would not gladly give myself - my life before my liberty." Is that absolutely clear?"
When she finished programming her son, she leaves him with these final words.
"I know you will never entirely comprehend this, Raymond, but you must believe I did not know it would be you. I served them. I fought for them. I'm on the point of winning for them the greatest foothold they would ever have in this country. And they paid me back by taking your soul away from you. I told them to build me an assassin. I wanted a killer from a world filled with killers and they chose you because they thought it would bind me closer to them. [Puts her hands on Raymond's face] But now, we have come almost to the end. One last step. And then when I take power, they will be pulled down and ground into dirt for what they did to you. And what they did in so contemptuously underestimating me." [She kisses Raymond on the forehead, cheek, and then his lips].
On the day of the convention, Raymond dresses as a priest and positions himself to kill his target. Below on the platform, Benjamin K. Arthur tells the audience "Nor would I ask of any fellow American in defense of his freedom that which I would not gladly give myself - my life before my liberty!" Raymond takes aim but instead of killing the presidential nominee, he kills his step-father, Senator Iselin and his mother, shooting them both in the forehead.
Bennett Marco finally arrives on the scene, suspecting that his attempts at deprogramming had failed. As Marco looks on confused, Raymond says "You couldn't stop them, the army couldn't stop them, so I had to." Then Raymond says, "Oh Damn it Ben!" and shoots himself with his rifle.
"Made to commit acts too unspeakable to be cited here by an enemy who had captured his mind and his soul. He freed himself at last and in the end, heroically and unhesitatingly gave his life to save his country. Raymond Shaw... Hell... Hell." - Bennett Marco [Last lines]
Note: The Manchurian Candidate was remade in 2004. Denzel Washington starred in the role of Captain/Major Ben Marco and Liev Schreiber as Sgt. Raymond Shaw, an alleged war hero who runs for the White House with the help of his controlling mother, Mrs. Eleanor Shaw (Meryl Streep) and the powerful Manchurian Global corporation.
On the flip side of matricide, New Jersey mobster Anthony “Tony” Soprano, Sr. (James Gandolfini) once said, “What fucking kind of human being am I, if my own mother wants me dead?” on an episode of the crime drama THE SOPRANOS/HBO/1999-2007.