After saving the lives of his platoon during the Korean War, Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) is hailed as a bona fide American hero. This couldn’t have come at a better time for his mother (Angela Lansbury) who is hell-bent on boosting the career of his stepfather, a senator straight from the McCarthyite wing of the US political spectrum with designs on the Presidency.
So far so familiar – but why does Shaw’s former captain (Frank Sinatra) have recurring nightmares that suggest that his distinguished comrade-in-arms might not be all that he seems?
Based on the memorably paranoid bestseller by Richard Condon (Prizzi’s Honor), this is one of the greatest of all Cold War suspense thrillers, not least for its alarmingly original take on the notion of “the enemy within”. Angela Lansbury won multiple awards and an Oscar nomination for her performance as one of the most monstrous mothers in screen history, but perhaps the most unnerving thing about the film is the way that its political satire remains so perfectly on target more than half a century later.
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