Classic conspiracy movies for summer viewing, week 4

CLASSIC CONSPIRACY MOVIE PICK OF THE WEEK

Corporate America is often implicated in American conspiracy theories. With many people suspicious that big business doesn’t always have the best interests of its customers at heart, conspiracy theories often portray corporate America as not only callous but potentially downright evil. It’s a theme you can find in movies across many genres. Still, few movies portray corporations as wicked and conspiratorial as The Parallax View, director Alan J. Pakula’s 1974 film that’s the pick-of-the-week for a classic political paranoia movie.

In The Parallax View, Warren Beatty stars as a reporter investigating a murder mystery. The clues seem to lead to the fictional Parallax Corporation.  Unlike some other evil corporations of filmdom, the Parallax Corporation doesn’t make money selling some seedy product and then resort to murder to cover its tracks. No, for the Parallax Corporation, murder is not a side activity — it’s the company’s main product. Indeed, in a twist with metaphorical implications and irony, what Parallax sells is assassination. 

Of the many films Pakula directed, The Parallax View and two others — Klute (1971) and All the President’s Men (1976) — are loosely tied together with conspiracy themes. Neither of these others possesses the deep cynicism of The Parallax View, however. Coming after a decade in which Americans were losing faith in the society’s major institutions, it’s imbued with a sense of foreboding that may remind some viewers of The X-Files from some years later. 

The Parallax View is not as well known as many other movies with a similar theme. However,  it’s an interesting comment on American attitudes in the mid-1970s, as well as an important part of the conspiracy movie canon. More than that, it’s an expertly crafted film that manages to cover some familiar territory in a new way.  

_____________________________________________

TO MARK THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BOOK CONSPIRACY THEORY IN FILM, TELEVISION, AND POLITICS, I ‘M SUGGESTING A DIFFERENT CLASSIC FILM WITH A CONSPIRACY OR POLITICAL PARANOIA THEME EVERY WEEK THIS SUMMER. THINK OF IT AS A DO-IT-YOURSELF PARANOID SUMMER FILM FESTIVAL.