With Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, William Daniels and Hume Cronyn.
“Sorry, Mr. Tucker, you’ve got information I need. Money doesn’t mean anything to me. This story’s gonna mean more to me than ten thousand dollars.”
Alan J. Pakula may just be the most important filmmaker during the 1970’s. His trilogy of conspiracy and government cover-ups, “Klute”, “All the President’s Men” and “The Parallax View” all struck chords in American society during that time. His masterpiece, “The Parallax View” centers around the assassination of a prominent US Senator at the top of Seattle’s Space Needle (mirroring the assassination of RFK) which is witnessed by journalist Joseph Frady (Warren Beatty). As he digs deeper into the assassination, he unravels a web in which he becomes tangled.
Frady slowly uncovers that a multinational corporation is behind every major world event – whether it be a disaster or a triumph. With the help of his editor (Hume Cronyn) Frady dives deep, and abandons his own life and identity to infiltrate the “corporation”.
Frady’s investigation sends him all over the country, and most people that he is interested in are either a part of this corporation, or sworn to protect it by any means necessary. The films voyeuristic tone and the lack of trust shown in the government is what makes this film so profound. This film was made at the height of Watergate, showing us as Americans, that we essentially shouldn’t trust our own government.
Frady does enter the “corporation” to become a wet boy, or a sleeper – better known as an assassin. Frady is asked to take a questionnaire. The questions are simple but meant to provoke a reaction from you, hopefully more towards psychotic or violent. He’s entered into this secret world where everything in the world is controlled, and nothing is left untouched.
The Parallax Corporation is dangerous and mysterious, we know nothing about it, and it’s as ambiguous as the time period of David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet”. What makes this film work is the ambiguous tone, the ambiguity of the Parallax Corporation and the vast powers it holds.
Once Frady passes the questionnaire, he is made to sit in a dark room, and forced to watch a montage on a drop screen. Forget “A Clockwork Orange” – the montage that is displayed in this film is brutal and leaves you wanting to curl up in your bed with the lights on. The film marvelously crosscuts between both Frady and the images the montage displays. It’s one of the best scene’s I’ve ever seen.
This is the one film that isn’t Beatty’s where he is astoundingly brilliant. The man has been anything but prolific in his career and has chosen every single one of his films with much care and thought. Beatty always challenges us with his films and the roles he takes on (aside from “Town & Country” – but that was still fun).
Pakula has always made important films that pokes and prods our establishment. He’s always lurking in the shadows of whatever power he’s questioning. Most people I know have seen “All the President’s Men” some have seen “Klute”, but no one I know has seen “The Parallax View”.