Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: The film The Manchurian Candidate was withdrawn from distribution due to the assassination of
Origins: In the aftermath of the
A similar phenomenon has been linked to the film The Manchurian Candidate, John Frankenheimer's 1962 Cold War thriller about a U.S. soldier who is abducted during the Korean War and spirited away to Manchuria, where his Communist captors brainwash him before allowing him to return to the United States to unwittingly serve them as a political assassin. Legend has it that when President
The Manchurian Candidate did seemingly "disappear" for a few years around the time of the Kennedy assassination, not because it had been "suppressed" but simply because its original theatrical run had largely played out by then (it had already been in release for a year),
The Manchurian Candidate was withdrawn from distribution by Frank Sinatra in 1972 (a state in which it remained for the next fifteen years), but that act was a business decision that had nothing to do with political events. Michael Schlesinger, the man responsible for the film's eventual
By late 1963, the film had simply played out. The original [distribution] deal was forA 1988 New York Times article about the (surprisingly successful) theatrical re-release of The Manchurian Candidate provided a little more background about the economic issues that led to the film's temporary withdrawal:
And so it remained "lost" until 1987, when the New York Film Festival requested it for its 25th anniversary. By then, Sinatra had new attorneys with no ax to grind and they consented [to release the film]. The reaction was so overwhelming that MGM/UA immediately struck a
According to Mr. Frankenheimer, the movie was listed on the studio's books at such a loss that any sales would profit the studio but notSuddenly, a film made several years before The Manchurian Candidate which also starred Frank Sinatra and involved a political assassination plot, was withdrawn from some local television airings at one time due to associations with the Kennedy assassination:
There is a common misperception that "The Manchurian Candidate" was withdrawn because of the assassination of President Kennedy. But the President was killed a year after the movie failed to make a dent at the box office. Later it was seen briefly on television.
Sinatra is outstanding as the disgruntled war vet who hopes to become a "somebody" by killing the president. The parallels between his character and Lee Harvey Oswald's are too close for comfort, so much so that Suddenly was withdrawn from local TV packages for several years after the JFK assassination. Sinatra would claim in later years that he himself engineered the removal of Suddenly from general distribution, though in fact he'd lost whatever rights he'd held on the film when it lapsed into public domain.Last updated: 25 February 2008
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