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The Manchurian Candidate
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio Commentary by John Frankenheimer
  • Exclusive interview with Frank Sinatra, George Axelrod, and John Frankenheimer
  • Queen of Diamonds featurette
  • A Little Solitaire featurette
  • How to Get Shot
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

The Manchurian Candidate

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: John Frankenheimer
Starring: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Henry Silva, James Gregory
1962 | 126 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $19.99 | Series: MGM
Fox Home Entertainment

Release Date: May 10, 2011
Review Date: May 19, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

When a platoon of Korean War G.I.s is captured, they somehow end up at a ladies' garden club party. Or do they? Major Bennett Marco (Sinatra) can't remember. As he searches for the answer, he discovers threads of a diabolical plot orchestrated by the utterly ruthless Mrs. Iselin (Lansbury) and involving her war hero son (Harvey), her senator husband (Gregory) and a secret cabal of enemy leaders.


PICTURE

MGM and Fox upgrade John Frankenheimerís The Manchurian Candidate to Blu-ray, presenting the film in the aspect ratio of about 1.75:1 on a dual-layer disc in 1080p/24hz. The aspect ratio in question presents very slight black bars on either side of the image.

The presentation is adequate but nothing overly spectacular. It presents a noticeable improvement over MGMís 2004 DVD in the ways one would expect; thereís less noise, itís a little sharper, and the black and white photography is rendered in a cleaner manner. But in no way did this image really rise above a basic Blu-ray upgrade. The picture is pretty sharp but finer details still get lost and some close-ups look to be smoothed over ever so slightly. Edges are rarely crisp and there can be the slightest haze over the entire image at times.

The source materials used are in decent shape, though, with only a few minor, insignificant blemishes like specs of debris and tiny marks, and does look a little better than the DVD.

In general it does look better than the DVD but really is an average Blu-ray upgrade.

6/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The primary track is a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround presentation, which is a bit of a mess. The upgrade isnít too bad for this type of thing and the surround presentation is pretty impressive at times, like the opening sequence which has helicopter effects surrounding the viewer in a lively, fairly natural manner. Music and other effects also fill the surrounds but unfortunately itís at the expense of the filmís dialogue.

Dialogue is incredibly hard to hear and some of it has to do with the mix. Since most of the dialogue comes from the center channel I ended up cranking the volume up well above what itís normally set at, and even then dialogue was still muffled and at times almost indecipherable.

Unfortunately the original mono track has not been included, which would have probably lessened some of the things I found aggravating about this track like, you know, the fact I could rarely hear what was being said without cranking the volume. Disappointing.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Fox ports just about everything over from the DVD special edition starting with an audio commentary by director John Frankenheimer. Itís a fine track, with the director going over the production history of the film as well as various technical aspects. He covers the original novel and makes comparisons, but other than a couple of changes, one fairly significant, it remains true to the source novel. He talks a little about the performers, even giving adequate attention to the actors covering the minor roles, and then talks a little about the filmís themes and the McCarthy hearings to an extent, though I guess I expected him to delve more into this than he actually does. Overall itís a much more technical track but a fine one thatís worth a listen.

Unfortunately the remaining supplements donít offer too much value. First is an 8-minute interview between John Frankenheimer, George Axelrod, and Frank Sinatra. Though this may sound cool itís a disappointing 8-minute piece. The three reflect on the film and comment on certain aspects of it, like the adaptation and Sinatraís large role in getting the film made. Itís unfortunately not very insightful and made up of a lot of clips. Itís amusing to listen to Sinatra recall the fight scene between him and Henry Silva but thatís about it.

íQueen of Diamondsí featurette is a bit better, basically a 15-minute interview with Angela Lansbury about the film, her character, and some of the more technical aspects of the film, like how Frankenheimer would set up some of the more complicated shots. She also talks about some of the other performers, like Sinatra, Janet Leigh, and Laurence Harvey. And she also goes into a little more detail about the implications of an incestuous relationship between her and Harveyís characters. It repeats info found elsewhere, like in the commentary, but Lansbury makes for a charming interviewee.

A Little Solitaire, a 13-minute interview featuring director William Friedkin talking about his favourite aspects of the film, like the performances (Sinatraís in particular), the editing, and the satire present in it about the McCarthy era. Though some observations are interesting overall Friedkin covers a lot of the same material covered in the previous supplements making it not entirely necessary.

How to Get Shot is an addition to Lansburyís interview where she talks about researching how oneís body would react to being shot. It runs a minute and seems to have only been separated out to make it look like thereís more on the disc in the way of supplements than there actually is.

And Phone Call is sort of the same thing, featuring another 26-seconds of Friedkinís interview, and is sort of a blooper where a phone rings in the background.

The disc then concludes with the filmís theatrical trailer. Missing is the slim booklet that came with the DVD, which contained a few ďfun factsĒ about the film.

The commentary isnít bad and possibly the only truly worthwhile supplement on here. And despite Lansbury being a charmer in her interview the rest of the material can all be skipped.

5/10

CLOSING

Itís not an awful presentation but I was let down. The video just never seemed to be as good as it could have been, coming off fairly average, and the audio is a mess. The commentary is fine but the remaining supplements, despite some charms, feel like filler.




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