MUSTWORTHINESS John Frankenheimer's 1962 tale of brainwashing and assassination is the gold standard of political thrillers. Jonathan Demme's remake of the Cold War paranoia classic has Denzel Washington stepping into Frank Sinatra's uniform and Meryl Streep taking over the role of the power-hungry monster mom played by Angela Lansbury.
AND WHAT DOES LANSBURY THINK? ''I'm so unhappy,'' says the 78-year-old actress, who earned an Oscar nod for her performance. ''I'm so sorry they had to mess with something that was so perfect. I couldn't believe it when I heard they were remaking it. I said, 'There's no way they would be foolish enough to walk into that trap.'''
BUT IT'S MERYL STREEP! ''I have great admiration for her. She'll probably be very interesting. I just wish she hadn't chosen to do it.''
PRESIDENTIAL SEAL OF APPROVAL ''After Kennedy's assassination, 'The Manchurian Candidate' was taken out of circulation. People feared it gave somebody the idea of shooting a politician with a rifle. But strangely enough, while we were making it, Kennedy was terribly excited about it. He adored the book and was a friend of Sinatra's.''
NEXT The remake hits theaters July 30.