On the National Embarrassment of President Trump: “The Manchurian Candidate” Meets “The Bad Seed”

So waking up to the nightmare of a Trump presidency (who really wants to look at this guy for four more years?), I’m reminded of two great classic films: the original Manchurian Candidate (1962) and a quirky predecessor, The Bad Seed (1956).

Trump is a hybrid of the two. He’s got the Russian backing of Raymond Shaw (played with great coldness by Laurence Harvey, opposite the nervousness of no less than Frank Sinatra) and the temperament of Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormick)—the adorable, jealous brat who kills the little Daigle boy because she wanted the medal for penmanship that he won. Like Rhoda, Trump carries a grudge, and like Raymond, he’s a homegrown American who plays into the Russian’s hands.

I was glad to see my second home state, Colorado, didn’t drink the Kool-Aid. Not that it’s much consolation. In the words of Bette Davis in All About Eve (1950), “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

About williamjcobb

William J. Cobb is a novelist, essayist, and short fiction writer whose work has been published in The New Yorker, The Mississippi Review, The Antioch Review, and many others. He’s the author of two novels—The Fire Eaters (W.W. Norton 1994) and Goodnight, Texas (Unbridled 2006)—and a book of stories, The White Tattoo (Ohio State UP 2002). He has reviewed books for the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and the New York Times. He lives in Pennsylvania and Colorado. He may be contacted at wjcobb@gmail.com.
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