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Chronicle of a death foretoldThe Manchurian Candidates plot is an exploitation of terrors floating in the air in 1959 the terror of McCarthyism which meant any US citizen could at any time be called a Communist and then blacklisted deprived of her job cast out of his community the terror of Communist brain-washing good American boys in Korea tortured with beatings castor oil and drugs until they denounced their own country and praised their own enemies The Soviets and the Chinese Communists have made an amnesiac assassin out of US soldier Raymond Shaw Their comrade in the US is Shaws mother whose husband is Senator John Iselin a stand-in for Senator Joe McCarthy Posing as rabid anti-Communists Senator and Mrs Iselin are Communist agents Ultimately Senator Iselin will win the vice-presidential nomination of his party his stepson Raymond Shaw is to assassinate the presidential nominee in mid-speech then Senator Iselin will take his place with a great patriotic address And then Senator Iselin or rather his Communist masters or rather Eleanor Iselin will be swept into power The plot is an excuse an excuse for the pleasure of its violence That is youre going to see everything you ever believed suspended in the air then dashed to the ground Thats a thrill Youre going to believe the notion that a single person could by means of a single bullet change history transform it utterly Nonsense - even if it happened in the years after The Manchurian Candidate was made again and again Historians tell us it didnt happen that solitary individuals even solitary individuals acting out great historic conspiracies dont make history History is made by invisible hands When you look now at this 1962 black-and-white movie made up of bits and pieces of Hitchcock and Orson Welles of Psycho and Citizen Kane most obviously perhaps less obviously but more completely taking Invasion of the Body Snatchers out of science fiction and returning it to
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