THERE IS NO CONSPIRACY. JUST TWELVE PEOPLE DEAD.
After the assassination of a presidential candidate, witnesses who may have seen something not disclosed in the subsequent investigation die mysteriously one after one; investigative reporter Joseph Frady (Warren Beatty) looks into it. The second film in Alan J. Pakula’s paranoia trilogy (after Klute (1971), before All the President’s Men (1976)) is the simplest and most action-filled one. The story about a shadowy organization that stages political murders leaves many questions unanswered, but has well-directed, effectively photographed thrills, including the opening scene at the Seattle Space Needle. Truly a companion piece with the same year’s The Conversation.
1974-U.S. 102 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced and directed by Alan J. Pakula. Screenplay: David Giler, Lorenzo Semple, Jr.. Novel: Loren Singer. Cinematography: Gordon Willis. Cast: Warren Beatty (Joseph Frady), Paula Prentiss (Lee Carter), William Daniels (Austin Tucker), Walter McGinn, Hume Cronyn, Anthony Zerbe… Kenneth Mars.
Last word: “The Parallax View’ was not an actor’s picture, and Beatty had a realistic sense of his own performance. There was only one scene of which he seemed genuinely proud: When, trying to pass for a psychopath in his interview with an assassin recruiter, he subtly breaks down and has a faint psychotic episode to convince the man he’s right for the job. […] Beatty knew this was his moment. He was a renowned perfectionist (our production manager had retired the slate from an earlier scene: “Warren stirs soup, take 100.”) And Pakula had, as Gordon [Willis] put it, an iron ass. He liked to say ‘film is cheap.’ Pakula pushed him, and Beatty pushed himself, again and again. In those days, there was no video playback. You couldn’t see the scene until it came back as dailies. But they both knew when they’d finally got it right. That was, I’d say, the creative high point for both of them.” (Assistant director Jon Boorstin, Los Angeles Review of Books)