MGM-UA release unseen first cut of The Manchurian Candidate

MGM’s CEO Gary Barber announced today that the studio will release the previously unseen first cut of the 1962 hit The Manchurian Candidate. “It’s been buried in our vaults ever since we acquired United Artists. No one knew.”

The original film was test marketed in late 1961 with a cast of unknown actors, first under the title Trumped With a Russian Spade, and then the renamed Manchurian Candidate. Every audience that was surveyed rejected the film as “contrived” and “utterly unbelievable.”

In the original version a US businessman tries to negotiate an import deal with the Khrushchev government, only to fall under the dictator’s spell. He returns to the U.S. as a spy and twenty years later successfully runs for President. When key cabinet members fall under suspicion for collaborating with the Soviets, he throws everyone off track by alleging the Kennedy administration “wire tapped” him.

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The original promo poster resembled the poster for the official release, but featuring the movie’s cast of unknowns.

“UA hired a new production company, Breitbart, to film to script,” Barber admitted. “The film company’s relative obscurity further undermined the chances of success.”

Barber also admitted surprise to discover the vault also contained many of the original survey responses. Comments included:

“The main character was a real blow hard. So brainwashed he wouldn’t know the truth it bit him on the ass.”

“The bad guy beats the Democratic Candidate because the Russians wire tap her phone calls and release them to the press. Like the FBI would let that happen.”

“He runs against a woman? Of course he won. The chances of a woman running for President are almost as slim as if a Negro ran.”

“Anyone could see no one would believe that guy. Make him President? Never. How dumb do they think we are? Sad.”

Film buffs know the remade version proved to be a big hit, inspiring a 2004 remake. But even now, Barber admits, no film audience would find the original scenario believable.

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Phillip T. Stephens is author of Cigarettes, Guns & Beer and Raising Hell.

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