Film: The Manchurian Candidate
Screenplay: George Axelrod (novel by Richard Condon)
Role: Mrs. Iselin
Actor: Angela Lansbury
Length: approx. 3 minutes minimum
It has been decided that you will be dressed as a priest… to help you get away in the pandemonium afterwards. Chunjin will give you a two-piece Soviet Army sniper’s rifle that fits nicely into a special bag. There’s a spotlight booth that won’t be in use. It’s up under the roof on the Eighth Avenue side of the Garden. You will have absolutely clear, protected shooting. (rises) You are to shoot the presidential nominee through the head. And Johnny will rise gallantly to his feet and lift Ben Arthur’s body in his arms, stand in front of the microphones and begin to speak. The speech is short. But it’s the most rousing speech I’ve ever read. It’s been worked on, here and in Russia, on and off, for over eight years. I shall force someone to take the body away from him and Johnny will really hit those microphones and those cameras with blood all over him, fighting off anyone who tries to help him, defending America even if it means his own death, rallying a nation of television viewers to hysteria, to sweep us up into the White House with powers that will make martial law seem like anarchy. Now, this is very important. I want the nominee to be dead two minutes after he begins his acceptance speech — depending on his reading time under pressure. You are to hit him right at the point that he finishes the phrase, “Nor would I ask of any fellow American in defence of his freedom that which I would not gladly give myself — my life before my liberty.” Is that absolutely clear? …
I know you will never entirely comprehend this, Raymond. But you must believe I did not know it would be you. I served them. I fought for them. I’m on the point of winning for them the greatest foothold they will ever have in this country. And they paid me back by taking your soul away from you. I told them to build me an assassin. I wanted a killer from a world filled with killers and they chose you. Because they thought it would bind me closer to them.
But now we have come almost to the end. One last step. And then, when I take power, they will be pulled down and ground into dirt for what they did to you. And what they did in so contemptuously underestimating me.