A few years back I wrote that John Frankenheimer‘s The Manchurian Candidate (’62) wouldn’t work half as well without David Amram‘s baroque string-quartet score. It tells you from the get-go that something unusual and even a bit curious is about to unfurl. It says “this movie is going to be a bit weird…creepy and chilling and off on its own orbit…aimed at adults but with a mind of its own.”

During my very first viewing (tender age) I felt vaguely creeped out by the Queen of Diamonds. I saw something evil in her eyes, particularly in those stress bags and that slightly scowling mouth. I found her just as creepy as the gold-faced, green-tinted, thick-lipped fishbowl woman from Invaders From Mars (the “sum of all intelligence“).

“It had been a property that had been turned down by every studio in town. Mitchum had it at one time, and it was turned down with Mitchum. Everyone kind of liked it, but nobody wanted to do it.” — Frankenheimr speaking in ’96 about the history of The Manchurian Candidate.

How many tens of thousands of interesting, worthy, well-written scripts were shopped around since the rise of independent producing in the early to mid ’50s until the indie heyday of the ’90s and early aughts? Even the not-so-good ones that never became films were always described or referred to with the exact same words…”everyone kind of liked it, but nobody wanted to do it.”