A riveting political thriller –
From the Golden Globe nominated director John Framenheimer, the film sets in the demonizing and political overtones in the middle of cold war paranoia that struck all over America.
A former Korean War POW Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) returns with the Congressional Medal of Honour, to his domineering mother Eleanor Shaw Iselin (Angela Lansbury), who he tries to distance himself from. Lt. Raymond Shaw is not a person you would like. The Vietnam veteran and son of the conservative Senator John Iselin (James Gregory) should be in bad memory for his fellow war comrads as a sulky, self-opinionated character. That’s why it seems quite odd that they praise Shaw after they have returned home. His commanding officer Maj. Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) has been having nightmares where he is seeing the troops were kidnapped and brainwashed by the enemy, while war hero Shaw killed two of his own men under hypnosis. Soon, Marco finds out that Shaw is converted into a will-less, deadly instrument without knowing of the actions of his alter ego.
I can’t think of another movie that induces paranoiac feeling in the audience as well. It is a grim, daunting film which imparts an irritating coerciveness of its happening on the screen with perfectly arranged and meticulously shots. The architecture of the images seems to be precisely sophisticated in various perspectives which are mutually commenting, contradicting and completing – as if the events on the screen are following a secret dramaturgy.
As in acting, you’d be surprised with the uniformly excellent acting. And Sinatra proves himself a great actor for the lead. The possible doubtful casting of Laurence Harvey as Raymond Shaw pays off, even with his accent but nonetheless he is wonderfully creepy as the controlled assassin. His account of his love affair is very moving. And Lansbury as his mother is amazingly good and very sinister, she has played unsympathetic roles but never like this. She is unforgettable, and scary. a very riveting conspiracy drama and psychological thriller.
The film was nominated the Oscar for Best Film Editing, and it was nominated the BAFTA for Best Film from any Source. And Angela Lansbury Won the 20th Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. If you’re looking for something to blow you away, something completely unlike anything you’ve seen before. It has aged well, still providing the same amount of suspense and drama that it did then.