Slide 3: Eleanor Iselin (The Manchurian Candidate)
For most people, the term "mama's boy" is an insult, but for Eleanor Iselin the controlling mom at the center of The Manchurian Candidate, it's a political strategy. Originally written as a novel by Richard Condon, The Manchurian Candidate was then adapted into a film, first by John Frankenheimer in 1962 (with Angela Lansbury as Eleanor), and in 2004 by Jonathan Demme (who cast Meryl Streep in the Lansbury role). All versions revolve around a soldier who's been brainwashed by enemy agents to become an assassin, and a mother who turns out to be secretly pulling all his strings. In the 60s, this was a complex, daring yarn, one that involved red Communist cells, right-wing zealots and political corruption at the highest levels of government. But for the filmmakers, the most terrifying tenet was the mother. John Frankenheimer remembers how while developing the film, he and screenwriter George Axelrod "realized that we were making a movie where Frank Sinatra, our hero, orders the murder of the mother, played by Angela Lansbury…good God, this is a terribly immoral movie, and we can't do this." And yet by the end of the movie everyone wanted her dead anyway.