The Manchurian Candidate (1962) directed by John Frankenheimer
An American patrol unit is captured by the Chinese Army during the Korean War. The Chinese take them into Manchuria, where the Americans are given psychological conditioning. After three days, they are returned to Korea with no conscious memory of what happened, only a cover story that Lieutenant Raymond Shaw (Lawrence Harvey) took out a Korean unit single-handedly and saved the patrol after they had gotten lost. Shaw returns to the United States and receives a Medal of Honor from the president. His mother (Angela Lansbury) and step-father (James Gregory) try to horn in on the photography at the ceremony. His step-father is Senator Iselin, a fire-brand anti-Communist who is campaigning for a higher office in the upcoming party convention. Raymond can't stand him or his ideology, which he calls Iselinism (clearly meant to stand for McCarthyism). Raymond takes a job in New York with a newspaper that opposes Iselin's ideology. Then Raymond gets a call from his mysterious Chinese friends, who bring him in for testing to make sure he's still ready to be used as a assassin.
Meanwhile, the captain of the patrol, Marko (Frank Sinatra) has had a hard time adjusting to State-side duties. He constantly has nightmares where he half remembers what happened in Manchuria, including Raymond killing two of his fellow soldiers. Marko knows Raymond was unpopular and a cold fish but also says, "Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I have ever known in my life." Marko's work in the military PR department is very stressful. We see him failing to manage a general who gets shouted down by Iselin who demands to know how many communists are in the department of defense. Marko's superior sends him to New York City on leave, where Marko looks up Raymond, only to find the mystery of the dream becoming more odd and sinister.
The story has many twists and turns. It's also soul-crushingly bleak. The black and white cinematography creates sweaty, oppressive environments, adding to the tension. Frankenheimer's camera angles are often very stylish and evocative. The visuals make the genuinely shocking moments all the worse. The ending is tough to watch in a heartbreaking way. The story comes to a satisfying if unhappy conclusion.
Harvey and Sinatra give great performances. Their characters are very odd but still have humanity and sympathy. Angela Lansbury also stands out as the manipulative and horrible mother. The rest of the cast is good, each with their own little quirks or oddities. Janet Leigh plays a proto-manic pixie dream girl--her character is a girlfriend for Marko, providing some comic relief and someone for him to bounce ideas off of.