Ambassadors of Fear

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
German title Ambassadors of Fear
Original title The Manchurian Candidate
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1962
length 126 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director John Frankenheimer
script George Axelrod
production George Axelrod
John Frankenheimer
music David Amram
camera Lionel Lindon
cut Ferris Webster

The Manchurian Candidate is a American , in black and white twisted satirical political thriller from the year 1962 . The film is based on the novel of the same name by Richard Condon , directed by John Frankenheimer .

A highly decorated American war hero who has returned from the Korean War turns out to be a communist mastermind, controlled by post-hypnosis .


During the Korean War, an American infantry unit is ambushed and captured. When the survivors return to the USA - initially surprisingly for the audience - Sergeant Raymond Shaw is celebrated as a war hero because, according to the unanimous statements of his comrades, he repulsed the enemy and saved the squad.

The explanation for the contradiction finds Shaw's former superior Major Ben Marco in his own nightmares, which show how the soldiers in Chinese captivity were brainwashed . Shaw was turned into a ruthless murder instrument. He is contacted by communist agents who use a trigger mechanism (the queen of diamonds in a deck of cards) to get him to commit murders that he does not remember afterwards. Marco contacts Shaw and encourages him to fight the conditioning.

Shaw's mother wants to politically exploit her son's heroic status. She is married to the anti-communist and populist Senator Iselin, who is little more than her puppet. Shaw rebels against his mother, allies himself with the liberal Senator Jordan, Iselin's harshest critic, and marries his daughter, his childhood sweetheart Jocelyn. Shaw's mother, however, is involved in the conspiracy at the highest level and orders her son to kill Senator Jordan and Jocelyn.

Senator Iselin has now succeeded in getting his party to run as a candidate for the office of Vice President . Shaw receives the order to shoot the presidential candidate at the party convention in order to pave the way for Iselin, who is advancing, to the White House. Instead, Shaw shoots his mother and Iselin at the last second. Before Marco can intervene, Shaw, wearing his medal for bravery , commits suicide. The final scene of the film shows Marco holding a short obituary for Shaw.


Although the film sticks relatively closely to the novel, there is a not insignificant change in the finale. While Raymond Shaw shoots himself in the film of his own free will, the novel implies that Major Marco causes Raymond to shoot himself under hypnosis to spare the army the "shame" of having one of their most decorated veterans hit the electric Chair would have to rise. Marco's obituary is also not found in the book.

Shortly after the US launch on October 24, 1962, Ambassador of Fear was withdrawn from American cinemas. This was often prompted speculation that either Frank Sinatra , who co-financed the film, because of parallels to the assassination of John F. Kennedy wanted to prevent further performances, or that there is a legal dispute between Sinatra and because of the revenue sharing United Artists could have come . Both explanations have not been proven to this day.

Angela Lansbury is actually only three years older (she was born in 1925) than her film son Laurence Harvey (* 1928).

In the Federal Republic (where the film was released on March 1, 1963), Ambassador of Fear was shown for decades in a version shortened in the dream sequences and flashbacks. The original shows two scenes that are visually and interwoven in the dialogues: the actual events in a lecture hall, when the communists demonstrate and explain the effect of hypnosis on American soldiers, and the subjective perception of the hypnotized soldiers who seem to be in one Greenhouse sitting amid a gathering of flower growers. In the German version, the women's group and all references to it have been completely removed. Only the version reconstructed by the TV broadcaster Arte contains the cut shots with subtitles.

In 2004 , Jonathan Demme's remake, set against the backdrop of the Iraq War , was released under the title The Manchurian Candidate .


"Frankenheimer told his version of acting out from outside less as a thriller than as a distancing puzzle."

"Cold War in Hollywood: gimmicky and politically stereotyped, but solidly staged and well played."

Awards (selection)


  • Richard Condon : Ambassador of Fear (Original title: The Manchurian Candidate) . From the American by Werner Barzel. Pavillon-Verlag, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-453-77051-X .
  • Greil Marcus: The Manchurian Candidate . In the BFI Film Classics series . British Film Institute, London 2002, ISBN 0-85170-931-1 . (English)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Ambassadors of Fear in the Internet Movie Database .
  2. ^ The Manchurian Candidate. In: Turner Classic Movies . Retrieved November 28, 2018 .
  3. epd Film 9/88, Joint Work of Evangelical Journalism (GEP), Frankfurt am Main 1988.
  4. Ambassadors of Fear. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed November 28, 2018 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used