Parents' Guide to

The Manchurian Candidate

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Classic Cold War satirical thriller stands test of time.

Movie PG-13 1962 126 minutes
The Manchurian Candidate Poster Image

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THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE is a timeless Cold War classic, at once both a riveting thriller and a satire of ideologues of all stripes. While certainly a product of its era -- Cold War paranoia, smoking indoors in public places, snappy slang in the dialogue -- its messages on leaders, politicians, and the treatment of soldiers has relevance well beyond that time. This is regarded by many to be one of Frank Sinatra's best acting performances, and it is impossible not to loathe Angela Lansbury as she plays the spiteful and conniving wife of a drunken senator who uses Communist witch hunts and her own son to advance their shared political ambitions.

While the themes and messages might go over the heads of younger viewers, the mischievous plot twists and turns as well as the manner in which deeper meanings are conveyed should resonate with older, politically engaged teens, and should inspire lively discussion.

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