Saturday, August 26, 2006
Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
When Lansbury first barrels onto the tarmac in "Manchurian Candidate", one might think "Oh, no! Too broad! Too broad!". But the actress is in total control of her arsenal and very quickly it's obvious she's operating with hair-trigger precision. Her Bo-Peep scene with John McGiver is a stunner. Lansbury knows just when to lower the emotional drawbridge, then slam it shut again. And, of course, therre's the final extended scene with Raymond - an exponential explosion of dramatic complexity. It's here that an already mesmerizing performance lifts off and soars into the stratosphere. I can't even write about it without wanting to watch it again right away. In the DVD commentary, John Frankenheimer mentions that Sinatra was initially determined to cast Lucille Ball in the role. Hearing that, I suddenly felt that sometime in 1962, the planet had managed to dodge one hell of a killer asteroid. Thank God Lansbury got to play the role she was born for!