From Day 1: A Person in the Dark –  MRS. ISELIN  ( Angela Lansbury ) “The Manchurian Candidate”


Speaking in the first person? As Mrs. Iselin? Great! If there was any justice in the world, Angela Lansbury would have won an Academy Award for her subtle, powerful and insidious performance in  The Manchurian Candidate.”

What an inventive and cruel way she went about seeking power – through Motherhood. It strikes at the core…that most selfless and loving and most trusting of relationships twisted and subverted to a…perfect plan.

But the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. That’s men for ya. And mice. And plans.

Her plan brings to mind a Stanwyck film called  Crime of Passion featuring Sterling Hayden where she can only go so far as a journalist ( doing a love-lorn column ). She marries a cop ( Hayden ) subjugating her own ambition to push him forward; even going so far as to sleep with Hayden’s boss: Raymond Burr. (Whew!! That’s taking one for the team).

Was it not available for Mrs. Iselin to go the normal electoral route? Guess not if one’s bid for power is for power’s sake and not to help “We the People”. And that’s okay in my book. Why can’t a woman make a grab for power as much as a man, even if the anatomy is different?

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  1. A few years ago, I finally read James M. Cain’s novel of Mildred Pierce, which was the basis for this movie. The Mildred character is quite a bit different and, as written, would never have fit Crawford. (I’m trying to think of an actress from that period who would have matched Cain’s conception–maybe Claire Trevor from the 1930s, but a little more polished.) Veda’s a hard case in the novel also, but on a somewhat different plane. Here are two paragraphs from the novel’s plot synopsis on Wikipedia:

    When Mildred discovers her daughter’s plot to blackmail a wealthy family with a fake pregnancy, she kicks her out of their house. Veda, who has been training to become an opera singer, goes on to a great deal of fame as Mildred convinces her new boyfriend Monty (a young man who, like Mildred, lost his family’s wealth at the start of the Great Depression) to help reconcile them. Unfortunately for Mildred, this means buying Monty’s family estate and using her earnings to pay for Veda’s extravagances. Mildred and Monty marry, but things go sour for her: Wally, her partner in the restaurant business, has discovered that her living like a rich person has dramatically affected the company’s profits. He threatens a coup to force her out of the company. This causes her to confess to her ex-husband Bert that she has been embezzling money from her company in order to buy Veda’s love.

    Needing some of Veda’s money to balance the books – and fearing that Wally might target the girl’s assets if they are exposed – Mildred goes to her house to confront her. She finds Veda in bed with her stepfather. Monty explains to Mildred that he’s leaving her for Veda, who gloats that they have been planning this all along. Mildred snaps, brutally attacking and apparently strangling her daughter, who now appears incapable of singing and loses her singing contract.

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