Our Mission
Prize Trivia
The Golden Rules
Movie of the Month
Movie News
Movie Reviews
Submit a Review
Your Videos/Movies
Movies by Period/Category
Register & WIN!
the parallax view

The Parallax View
Directed by:
Alan J. Pakula
Cast: Warren Beatty, Hume Cronyn, William Daniels, Kenneth Mars

Written by:
Random Movie Club

August 23, 2007

I love political thrillers. And except for the movie CONSPIRACY THEORY, I love movies with a conspiracy theory (or fact).


THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (umm, the original, not the remake) is one of my favorite movies, and WINTER KILLS (have you seen this one? Wow, what a cast- John Huston, Anthony Perkins, Jeff Bridges, Toshiro Mifune, and...Elizabeth Taylor!?) is one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies. Hell, I even bought into the Kris Kristofferson/Treat Williams fun and wacky FLASHPOINT.

But somewhere past the suburban streets of ARLINGTON ROAD lies (and I do mean "lies") a movie called THE PARALLAX VIEW.

Released in 1974, barely-post-Watergate, and post-post-JFK, THE PARALLAX VIEW's plot is knee deep in the themes of the time (which still exist today) - government corruption (the Warren commission's "lone gunman") and paranoia. And it also gets my nomination, if not award, for "Best Murder in an Opening Scene".

Its three years after the aforementioned murder. Warren Beatty, the Brad Pitt of the '70s, plays Joe, an overenthusiastic, hungry, yet low-level reporter for a Northwest newspaper so small its editor (Hume Cronyn) seems to be the only one who works there. Joe's ex-girlfriend Lee (Paula Prentiss) comes to his place, scared out of her wits. Someone is trying to kill her, she claims. They've killed six witnesses of the senator's murder and now they are after her. True, all the people have died, but nothing was suspicious (heart attacks, etc.). Plus Lee's had a history of paranoia, so Joe doesn't believe her. Smashcut to: Lee on the slab.

We now follow Joe as he attempts to unravel the vast conspiracy that leads him to small towns and big cities. He knows he's on the right track when he himself is almost killed (twice). That's when he stumbles on a company, the Parallax Corporation, that he believes is behind it all. He creates a new identity, and gets recruited by first passing a written test, and then a visual- sitting in a chair ala A CLOCKWORK ORANGE watching a montage of images both safe and dangerous. This montage lasts a staggering four minutes of film time and took over sixty people to put it together for the film.

And that's all I'm going to say. I've already spoiled enough for you. Because THE PARALLAX VIEW is a really fun ride and you need to take it.

Directed by Alan J. Pakula, whose body of work is much more impressive than, say, Pamela Anderson's body of work (to name a few: STARTING OVER, SOPHIE'S CHOICE, and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD). His eye for framing in TPV is spot on. Certainly, "is what you are seeing actually what you are seeing" or "a different view of the same object" is the whole point of the movie, hence the title. Internally, that's the core of the thriller here. And Pakula manifests it onscreen as well.

There are things that are larger than life, like Seattle's Space Needle and a dam with its water being released. Then there are altered perspectives- one scene takes place on a children's railroad ride with Beatty and his friend looking like giants in the little cars, and another has Beatty poking his head through the smallest reception area window in history, again, making him look huge in the frame within a frame. And lots of shots from afar, while the volume stays close, which adds to that Jarring Factor since we only hear who they want us to hear and no one else in the scene.

Pakula set the stage for the movie in that opening scene- You never know quite what's around the corner. Smart for a story about a guy with that exact problem. This creates a kind of suspense rarely seen today. There's a scene on the plane that is pure Hitchcockian. Pakula really made this movie work.

Helping him was Gordon Willis, a nearly untouchable cinematographer. Must I? Okay- THE GODFATHER, THE GODFATHER PART II, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, ANNIE HALL (and 7 other Woody Allens), KLUTE).

Interestingly, the fabulous script (based on a novel) for TPV was co-written by Lorenzo Semple, Jr. Sound familiar? He wrote a lot of the 1960's BATMAN episodes. He also did some great things (THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR) and not so great things (1976's KING KONG).

Pakula's life was sadly cut short (at 70!) while driving on the Long Island Expressway. A piece of metal hit by another car flew through his windshield. A freak accident. Or was it???


We would love to hear what you think! Agree? Disagree with this Moviebuff? Send your Review in TODAY!
Click here to send us your review
Or copy and paste into your email browser:  reviews@moviebuffs.com
include your review in your email!