By the time the 1970’s rolled around, conspiracy theories were beginning to take their place in American pop culture, where they still stand today. The murders of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy in the span of less than ten years all helped to fuel this. By 1974, Hollywood’s first ever conspiracy thriller was ready to be made.
Alan J. Pakula’s The Parallax View offers a fictional look at the assassination of a leading US senator, much like how Robert Kennedy was assassinated, up close, and in a large group of people. In a campaign meeting at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle, the senator is gunned down, and killer then falls off the top of the building, and the case is closed.
This was clearly based off of the JFK assassination, because this film also features a commission, who conducts their investigation only to find that the killer acted alone. It is not until the main character, Joseph Frady, played by Warren Beatty, notices that several witnesses at the party have mysteriously died.
He is warned by a journalist colleague of his, who dies suddenly after, herself. This prompts him to investigate further.
The journey takes him all over Seattle, as he avoids getting drowned, shot, and blown up in a boat, all while working undercover, trying to figure out if there really was a conspiracy in the assassination of the senator.
In his investigation, he stumbles on the Parallax Corporation, a company that specializes in hiring people with a “special set of skills”. He convinces them that he wants to join, and after rigorous testing, he is given a job in Atlanta. But he never goes, and ends up tailing other co-workers and stumbles upon their plot to kill the incumbent senator who replaced the original.
This leads to yet another assassination, and who ends up taking the fall for it makes this movie have a very interesting, and eerie twist ending.
Over all, I liked the film, but it was not great. Beatty plays a convincing journalist, although he could have done without the long hair. Paula Prentiss and Hume Cronyn also lend decent support in their co-starring roles.
I will give a final rating of 7 out of 10, and recommend it to anyone with an interest in politics or conspiracy theories.
The tag line of this film, as pictured above, was, “As American as Apple Pie”. You better believe it.