The Parallax View & Three Days of the Condor
That 70's Paranoia
Alan J. Pakula's THE PARALLAX VIEW
(US, R, 1974, 102 min)
The Parallax View is an absolute acid trip of a movie, and as pure a distillation of psychological paranoia as has ever been filmed. Warren Beatty plays Joe Frady, a loutish reporter who becomes convinced that an assassination witnessed by his ex-girlfriend was actually a conspiracy when she dies under mysterious circumstances. Joe goes undercover to infiltrate the Parallax Corporation, a secretive entity that, as it turns out, recruits and trains political assassins for hire.
Sydney Pollack's THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR
(US, R, 1975, 117 min)
Starts 15 minutes after the end of Parallax
CIA researcher Joe Turner (Robert Redford) literally returns from lunch to discover everyone in his office has been assassinated. When he desperately tries to contact his superiors and get spirited away to safety, someone tries to kill Turner as well. His only option is to kidnap a random woman (Faye Dunaway) and use her apartment as his hideout while he attempts to uncover the conspiracy against him.
What Jim Says...
Of all the double features in this season's edition of Retro Classics, this is the one I'm most proud of. One of the things I love most about my job is the overlap of skill sets between my personal and professional taste in movies. As this series has evolved over the years, it's been my intention to keep erasing that stigma that seemingly exists between high art and high fun. I mean, come on. This is a double feature about spies, secret agents, and government cover-ups. What could be cooler that that? The 70's were ripe with these kinds of movies. In that decade, conspiracy thrillers developed as a genre unto themselves, mirroring the political context of the times. These slices of paranoid darkness managed to strike the difficult balance of being uncomfortably subversive, profoundly dark and unsettling, and yet richly entertaining and often quite successful. All the President's Men, Chinatown, Klute, The Conversation, and Winter Kills. I could program an entirely different film series with these movies. (Which, now that I think about it...) Anyways, here are two of the biggest box-office stars of the 70s: Warren Beatty and Robert Redford, each making his debut at Retro Classics. This, I dare to say, is a fantastic double feature. Why? Because the paranoia films of the 70s took the suspicion of our political institutions and ran with it, in the process creating one of the most exciting, unnerving, and important bodies of art in American cinema.