I'm so glad I knew nothing about this story going into it. It is remarkably fresh and current to this day. Acts as a macabre comedy satirizing the darker sides of politics but also tells a very investing story of PTSD and communist witch hunts. Probably the quintessential political thriller of the decade.
Nefarious establishment mind-control techniques may vary in design and degree over time but this remains as prescient now as ever - in satiric tone if not detail. In itself a superior political thriller, crisply, if lengthily realised with some askew plotting (notably in the central section including a thankless role for Leigh). Surely Lansbury's finest hour on film in a role with all the sympathy of Clytemnestra.
Awesome. How Frankenheimer went from making films like this and Seconds to the dreck he churned out later in his career is beyond me. All the actors are in top form here. The classic brainwashing scene is disorienting and beautifully done. A real artifact of the Cold War era, and probably the best film of that time that tackles the subject, with Spy Who Came In From The Cold being a close second. 5 stars
3-4. My most complicated feelings about this one arise from the fact that the principle character is being twisted around without agency for most of the movie. The real emergent meaning from his intentions is that love and freedom are awesome; that takes some of the sting out of the psychological aspect. But it's technically exciting, inoffensive (benevolent communists even!), and good-looking. I like it pretty well.
A cold war paranoia criticism, inflected, ironically, with its own dose of paranoia as well. At times brilliantly shot, but sometimes slipping out the newer filmmaking styles and regressing into older ways, which aren't always better. Caught between two eras of hollywood.