January 7, 2000, “The Manchurian Candidate” + “Mind Control Murder

Eric Olson presents remarks to accompany an evening of cinema at the Weinberg Cultural Arts Center in Frederick, Maryland. The classic John Frankenheimer film on mind control “The Manchurian Candidate,” is paired in this double feature with “Mind Control Murder” on the Frank Olson story. This event provides an opportunity to point out to a Frederick audience the profound parallels and astounding coincidences between the “The Manchurian Candidate” and the Frank Olson story. The event is ably coordinated and hosted by Nancy Twigg. (Read the Weinberg Center’s press release for this event.)


Note on the event: The Weinberg Center is located in Frederick’s old Tivoli Theater, the theater where my father and mother saw the then just-released film “Martin Luther” on the final Sunday evening of my father’s life.

In preparing for the talk at the Weinberg I decided I should see the film too. I was stunned by the parallels between the Catholic Church in the 16th century and the CIA in the 1950’s. Both of these arrogant institutions, convinced that they were doing God’s work, thought that they could do no evil, and that their dirty tricks and covert operations were immediately redeemed by thegoodness of their fundamental purpose and the perfidy of the enemy with which they were locked in mortal combat. The end justified the means.


From early in his ecclesiastical career Luther had been deeply moved by the notion underlying the sacrement of communion—the idea that in this most central of Christian rituals ordinary bread and wine are transformed into spiritual substance. The logic of the eucharist is precisely the converse of that underlying biological and mind-control research, which is based upn the effort to transform natural substances and organisms into poisons and demons.

“Martin Luther” must have had an enormous impact on my father. The very next morning he went to work and nailed his own theses on the door. He resigned from his job.