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Type: Journal article
Title: Melodrama and tragedy in The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Author: McEntee, J.
Citation: Literature-Film Quarterly, 2015; 43(4):304-317
Publisher: Academic OneFile
Issue Date: 2015
ISSN: 0090-4260
Statement of
Joy McEntee
Abstract: Commonly described as a melodrama, The Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer, 1962) surprisingly alludes to various tragedies, notably The Libation Bearers, Oedipus the King, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet. While several commentators have acknowledged these intertexts, none has investigated their implications for The Manchurian Candidate in particular and film criticism in general. An examination of this matter enables us to question the prevailing view—pioneered by Linda Williams—that the generic mode of Hollywood film is melodrama. My paper responds accordingly to Rita Felski’s assertion that film studies needs to pay more attention to tragedy. In examining how and why The Manchurian Candidate invokes and adapts its tragic precursors, I argue that although the film is incontestably melodramatic, its tragic pretentions reveal the possibility of generic hybridity in early 1960s filmmaking. Ossification of the demarcation lines between tragedy and melodrama has prevented critics from accounting for this phenomenon.
Rights: COPYRIGHT 2015 Salisbury State University
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