Review: The Manchurian Candidate, by Greil Marcus

I first came across Greil Marcus as someone who wrote about popular music — with a particular interest in Bob Dylan. It turns out that he has written about many aspects of American culture and brings his critical eye to the masterpiece of cinema known as The Manchurian Candidate.

Marcus is clearly a major fan; he believes that everyone involved in the making of the film from the director to the set designer to the extras all took their performances over the top. For the film’s stars, Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury, they would never do better work.

He discusses the impact of the story on how Americans (and the world) would later interpret the shocking events of the 1960s, the assassinations, the violence and all that followed including the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Marcus has had to adapt this short book for the Trump era — at least for the first months following Trump’s election victory in 2016.

The book is all over the place, and it’s an extended stream-of-consciousness ride through Marcus’ brain, but it’s an enjoyable ride — one that leaves me a bit dizzy, thinking about the book, and the film, long after I have turned the final page.