The distinctive anamorphic photography, with long lens, unconventional framing, and shallow focus, was supervised by Gordon Willis.
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The Parallax View is a 1974 American political thriller film directed and produced by Alan J. Pakula, and starring Warren Beatty, Hume Cronyn, William Daniels and Paula Prentiss. The film was adapted by David Giler, Lorenzo Semple Jr and an uncredited Robert Towne from a 1970 novel by Loren Singer. The story concerns a reporter's investigation into a secretive organization, the Parallax Corporation, whose primary focus is political assassination.
That period was a far cry from sorry 2013, when Tom Hanks produces pointless films like Parkland and does voiceovers for the Pentagon-friendly National WWII War Museum, in New Orleans.
TV newswoman Lee Carter (Paula Prentiss) is one of many witnesses to the public assassination of presidential candidate Senator Charles Carroll (Bill Joyce) atop the Seattle Space Needle. A waiter armed with a revolver is chased but falls to his death. Meanwhile, a second waiter, also armed, leaves the crime scene unnoticed. A congressional special committee determines that the assassination was the work of a lone gunman.
One of the great American films from arguably the finest decade in American filmmaking.
The river scene was filmed at the Gorge Dam, on the Skagit River (Ross Lake National Recreation Area) in Washington State. (48 41' 51" N, 121 12' 29" W)
There are multiple twists and pitfalls. Created at a time when Hollywood still dared to challenge the "official" version of events, this is not a feel-good film. Instead, it's one of the high points of the New American Cinema, that brief decade when American film was still an art form – and a challenging, subversive art form at that.
A gripping paranoia political thriller that should make conspiracy buffs excited and provoke even the casual viewer.
The Parallax View is one of the great paranoid thrillers of the 1970s. Which, when you consider how paranoid America was post-Watergate, is high praise indeed.
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Frady's generally skeptical editor Bill Rintels (Hume Cronyn) listens to a secretly recorded tape of a conversation Frady had with Jack Younger. Rintels places it in an envelope, apparently with other such tapes. A disguised Parallax assassin delivers coffee and food to Rintels' office. Rintels is poisoned and the tapes disappear.
A couple of years earlier, the hero of "The Parallax View" would probably have been a cop or a private eye. But what with Woodward and Bernstein and all, Warren Beatty plays a newspaper reporter instead. Like all good movie reporters, he never has to meet a deadline or write a story; his function is to show up a the office late at night so his kindly old editor can hand over the petty-cash fund to finance further investigations.
Investigating Carter's leads, Frady goes to the small town of Salmontail, whose sheriff, L.D. Wicker (Kelly Thordsen), attempts to trap him below a dam while the floodgates are opening. Frady narrowly escapes but the sheriff drowns. Frady finds information about the Parallax Corporation in the sheriff's house and learns that its real business is recruiting political assassins.
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Former journalist Peter Landesman says 'there's very little proof' behind elaborate explanations for President Kennedy's assassination
Andy Warhol loved it – so do conspiracy theorists the world over. But how exactly did Abraham Zapruder's fuzzy home movie of the Kennedy assassination 50 years ago became one of the great cultural icons of our time?
The airport scene was filmed at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California.
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The reader will recall that Lee Harvey Oswald, during his brief time in the custody of the Dallas police, denied murdering the president and cried out to reporters: "I'm a patsy! I'm a patsy!" – strange behaviour for someone who, according to Parkland and the Warren Report, killed Kennedy to become famous. The Parallax View, written by David Giler, Lorenzo Semple Jr and an uncredited Robert Towne, describes how such patsies are created.
Pakula and Gordon Willis' cinematography wring the ominous from the ordinary with utter severity
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The thrills don't mount as the film goes on. They don't even accumulate. Once they are experienced, they dissolve so thoroughly that by the end you're likely to feel as cheated as I did.
The Space Needle in Seattle is seen extensively in the first assassination sequence.
A look at this year's competition for Best Actress.
• All Alex von Tunzelmann's Reel History assessments of the JFK films
For my taste the suspenseful set pieces go on much too long, and the message -- that right-wing conspiracy is built into the American political and corporate structure -- is overstated.
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The Parallax View (1974)
Xan Brooks reviews the footage of Parkland, James Landesman's up close and personal drama about the JFK assassination
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Their method has a kind of neat logic to it. They place magazine ads geared to attract a certain personality type: loners, insecure, lacking in self-esteem, in search of authority figures yet resentful of them and capable of murder. The most likely candidates are given an advanced psychological test. The ones with high grades are assassin material.
Three years later, Carter visits her former boyfriend and colleague, newspaper reporter Joe Frady (Warren Beatty). Lee tells Frady that she feels there is more to the assassination than was reported at the time. Six of the witnesses to Carroll's assassination have since died, so she fears she will be next. Frady does not take her seriously. Carter is soon found dead and her death is judged by the police to be either a voluntary or accidental drug overdose.
Beatty, in the central role, does a fine, taut job, but the movie is so straightforward that it doesn't ever require the superior acting he's capable of; plot seems so much more important than character here that it doesn't matter that this is Warren Beatty. And that's a waste, because he doesn't need one-dimensional roles.
Just about the only interesting things about the new Hollywood movie Parkland is its demonstration of how far Hollywood has shifted to the right over the last couple of decades.
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The Parallax View is the second installment of Pakula's Political Paranoia trilogy, along with Klute (1971) and All the President's Men (1976). In addition to being the only film in the trilogy not to be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, The Parallax View is also the only one of the three not to be nominated for an Academy Award.
As Frady is interviewing Carroll's former aide Austin Tucker (William Daniels) aboard Tucker's boat, a bomb explodes. Frady survives but is believed dead. He decides to apply to Parallax under an assumed identity. Jack Younger (Walter McGinn), a Parallax official, assures Frady that he is the kind of man they are interested in. Frady is accepted for training in Los Angeles, where he watches a slide show that conflates positive images with negative actions.