Major Ben Marco (Frank Sinatra) is an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army. He served valiantly as a captain in the Korean war and his Sergeant, Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), even won the Medal of Honor. Marco has a major problem however: he has a recurring nightmare, one where two members of his squad are killed by Shaw. He's put on indefinite sick leave and visits Shaw in New York. Shaw for his part has established himself well, despite the misgivings of his domineering mother, Mrs. Eleanor Iselin (Angela Lansbury). She is a red-baiter, accusing anyone who disagrees with her right-wing reactionary views of being a Communist. Raymond hates her, not only for how she's treated him but equally because of his step-father, the ineffectual U.S. Senator John Iselin (James Gregory), who is intent on seeking higher office. When Marco learns that others in his Korean War unit have had nightmares similar to his own, he realizes that something happened to all of them in Korea and that Raymond...Written by
Filming began each day after 11 A.M. at the request of Frank Sinatra who couldn't get to sleep before 5 in the morning. Normally film shoots take place in pre-dawn hours. See more »
Raymond Shaw is referred to as a "Staff Sergeant," but that rank was abolished for the US Army during the Korean war. During the Korean War, the traditional three-chevron insignia for Sergeant was also abolished, with the rank of Sergeant represented by what used to be the Staff Sergeant insignia: three chevrons and one rocker. The rank of Staff Sergeant didn't reappear for the Army until 1959, when it re-took the traditional insignia of three chevrons and one rocker previously given over to Sergeants during the Korean War. Even more curious is the fact that the Raymond Shaw character wears three chevrons and TWO rockers: the rank of Sergeant First Class. See more »
A little humor, my dear Zilkov, always with a little humor
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The live TV cameras in the senate hearing and press conference carry the NBC logo used at the time the film was made, not the logo used at the time the story takes place. See more »
West German version was edited (ca. 4 minutes) to remove every scene with the ladies in the greenhouse. To this day all home video releases contain the cut version. An uncut version (with subtitles for the missing scenes) was shown on Arte. See more »
As a long time fan of this film I note there is little that has gone unmentioned in the positive reviews - except this. I would like to put in a word of praise for the academy award winning editor Ferris Webster. Webster's crowning achievement was the famed 'garden party' sequence in which the malevolent communist agents are transformed into ladies at a garden club and back again, the vertigo of the circling camera draws us into the actual mental state of the brainwashed captives. Each camera movement, each shot was so exquisitely timed and placed that this is almost equal to the shower-bath scene in Psycho as a classic of modern editing. This scene is still studied in film schools by future editors. Also, the cutting in the finale scene at the convention expertly creates a Hitchcockian suspense totally dependent on the editing.
Another aside, Angela Lansbury 'cut her teeth' for this role playing the ruthless newspaper owner in the Tracy-Hepburn film State of the Union. In that film she managed to upstage Hepburn herself! And it was obvious that she should play the 'biggest, baddest mother of all'.
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