Today is Angela Lansbury‘s 91st birthday — born on 10.16.25. So the scheming communist agent mother in The Manchurian Candidate wasn’t shot on that stage in the old Madison Square Garden but went on to a great career on the Broadway stage. Good for her! Lansbury was 36 or 37 when she portrayed the 33-year-old Laurence Harvey‘s mom, Eleanor Shaw Iselin, in that John Frankenheimer classic, which opened on 10.24.62 but was shot, I think, in early ’62. Lansbury has always been the spry, spirited type on stage, but Hollywood began casting her in middle-aged parts when she hit her late 20s and certainly by her early 30s.
Incidentally: In Richard Condon‘s 1959 novel of the same name, Mrs. Iselin has sex with her son Raymond (Harvey’s character). The film omitted this, of course, but the clip below ends with Lansbury giving Harvey a mouth-to-mouth kiss — a clear hint. This was probably the first time that incest was specifically alluded to in a mainstream Hollywood film.
You’ll notice that the above clip is cropped at 1.75:1, which is how the last two Blurays (including the 4K-scanned Criterion version) have appeared. But the below clip appears within a gloriously boxy 1.37 a.r. — un-cropped, plenty of headroom, etc. Do you feel the air, the open-ness, the naturally boxy Lionel Lindon framing? If only the Criterion guys had been wise and generous enough to offer fans of this film a 1.37:1 version along with the 1.75:1. It wouldn’t have hurt anyone except for the 1.85 fascists (1.75 being a kissing cousin of 1.85), and people like me would have had a prime-value keepsake for their bookshelves.