The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

In the last scene of the movie before it goes to the convention hall for the climax, Eleanor Iselin (Angela Lansbury) finally reveals the plot to her brainwashed son Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), who has been programmed as a mind controlled assassin. 

The last seconds of this scene are particularly important, as they reveal not just the plot but the final explanation about Raymond.  In the novel, there was a big incest theme between young Eleanor and her father, and then between her and her son.  It's significant not just for titillation, but as an element in Mom's psychological dominance over her son.  It's the super secret shameful bonding and ultimate maternal domination that helps explain Raymond's mental state.

They soft pedal the incest theme in the movie, and the wordless kiss at the end of this scene is the only direct acknowledgement in the film.


The giant queen of diamonds from Jocie's costume still lies in the
library. Mrs. Iselin sits, smoking a cigarette, and outlines the plan
to Raymond who sits silently across from her.

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?

Raymond nods his head. Mrs. Iselin crosses slowly to him.

Would you repeat it for me, Raymond?

Nor would I ask of any fellow

MRS. ISELIN defense of his freedom...

RAYMOND SHAW defense of his freedom...

...that which I would not gladly

...that which I would not gladly



MRS. ISELIN life...


...before my liberty.

...before my liberty.

Mrs. Iselin touches her son's head, then sits down before him and takes his hands in hers. The giant queen of diamonds is visible in the background between them.

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 will 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.

Mrs. Iselin pulls Raymond closer to her. She takes his face in her hands.

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.

Mrs. Iselin kisses her son: on the forehead, the cheek, and -- most intensely -- on the lips.

Queen of Diamonds


evil Angela Lansbury smoking a cigarette and plotting a coup


Angela Lansbury picture


Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate


Angela Lansbury




Movie Poster Images for The Manchurian Candidate



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The Manchurian Candidate

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