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Manchurian Candidate - Tina Sinatra (producer) Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. This has been described as your father, Frank Sinatra’s finest story, but there’s a story about how you got permission from him to do the remake?
Tina Sinatra (producer):
I didn’t get permission from him but it’s a good story. Essentially, the rights had revered to the to my father’s estate about 10 years after the original film was distributed. We re-released the film in 1987 and it was a hit, successful compared to its initial run and I really hadn’t thought about the film till then.
I sat in a movie theatre with a bunch of college kids and saw how they reacted to it so I went back to my dad and said: “May be we could remake it and update it – what do you think?”
He said he thought the country had healed from the assassination of the president in 1963 and it was worth a try because the characters from Richard Condon’s original novel could also be updated and were quite wonderful to begin with. I got his permission to do a lot of things in my life but that wasn’t one of them!

Q. Is it fair to say this was a theme that fascinated your father he made another similar movie called Suddenly as well
A.
Yes, in that he played a presidential assassin a really mean, bad man another black and white film made I think by Republic. When they reissued it on DVD they colourised it and made his eyes brown!
But my father was really a political animal and loved thrillers, he also thought films should make people think give dinner conversation rather than over household bills or something. He really believed in a more sophisticated kind of movie.

Q. Legend has it that the original film was withdrawn after the Kennedy assassination in 1963 - were you aware of any feeling that a film about presidential assassination is beyond the pale as it were and did that concern you?
A:
I never felt that way and I’m kind of a shy kid. Someone in New York asked if I had any sense that I’d been part of an Anti-American film and I couldn’t have been more offended. I was taken aback by it.
It’s a two-hour fictitious psychological thriller that has real elements to it. But that was to be more entertaining and to make it a more exciting film, which I was desperate to get Jonathan to direct since 1991.
I think the world caught up to a really good script that perhaps made it a little more controversial – may be we appear smarter than we really were. I never felt I was being irresponsible.

Q. Was it ever a matter of debate about not making a 'how to' film?
A. I marvel every day that the Condon novel is a half a century old – when you put it in perspective it’s extraordinary. I remember that Lee Harvey Oswald was reported to have seen the original film two weeks before he killed the president and I don’t believe that either.

Q. Has your famous name ever made it harder to get involved with projects?
A:
No I just move forward. I do remember as an actor that doors opened but if you didn’t have the talent you didn’t stay in very long. I never found favouritism I never experienced nepotism. Did I find more difficult to break in as a young female agent? Yes, but probably because I didn’t know shit about business! I’ve never let that kind of thing get in my way if it did and I don’t remember if it did.

Q. Was it deliberate or a coincidence that such a political film came out in the year of a presidential election?
A:
It just worked out that way. It didn’t bother Paramount they felt it would be beneficial. I wasn’t sure. I was a little worried for a while.




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