Throwback Thursday – The Parallax View (1974)

Between this blog and my previous one, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest, I’ve been writing about movies for quite a while now. Because of that, there are a lot of posts that have simply gotten lost to the mists of time. So, I figured I’d use the idea of “Throwback Thursday” to spotlight some of those older posts, re-presenting them pretty much exactly as they first appeared except for updating links where necessary or possible, and doing just a bit of re-formatting to help them fit better into the style of this blog. Hope you enjoy these looks back.

As we approach what seems like it will surely be at the least a – shall we say “interesting” – political convention season it seems like a good time to go ahead and take a look back at one of my favorite political conspiracy thrillers from the early 70s. No it may not be the best – there are plenty of contenders for that spot, but 1974’s The Parallax View still holds a special place in my own heart. Here’s what I had to say about it back in July of 2013.

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Conspiracy Theorists Need To Apply – The Parallax View (1974)

pvcI’m not sure exactly why I decided last night’s movie would be 1974’s The Parallax View, or even when I put it in my Netflix queue. Still, there it was, and since I was in a kind of “what the heck” mood, I decided to give it a go.

Coming out at a time when political corruption, conspiracy theories, and political assassinations were all at the forefront of the American psyche, The Parallax View is according to Wikipedia, the middle film in director Alan J. Pakula‘s so-called “Political Paranoia Trilogy” which also includes 1971’s Klute, which I haven’t yet seen, and 1976’s All The President’s Men, which I have. (Though it has been awhile, and I probably should revisit it sometime soon.) This is not to say that the film relies on any knowledge of, or even directly relates to either of those films, as the link between them is one of theme more than plot.

The Parallax view stars Warren Beatty as Joseph Frady, a somewhat naive reporter who finds himself drawn unwillingly into a world of political intrigue and, yes. conspiratorial assassination. The guiding force behind these assassinations turns out to be the titular Parallax Corporation which actively recruits people like Frady, people who seem to be on the edge, to become assassins.

Or do they?

The movie is very much one of its time, making use of then-popular pop-culture tropes such as personality testing and visual brain washing. There is even a scene which echoes the forced retraining scene in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, with a very interesting video montage, though the scene itself is much less disturbing and intense than that of the Kubrick film.

pvbAnd perhaps that’s the problem with the entire film, and why it was less well received and remains much less well remembered than Pakula’s two other films in this “trilogy”. It simply never manages to convey any real sense of intensity or immediacy. Under Pakula’s direction, scenes such as the opening fight on the top of Seattle’s Space Needle, which could have provided great tension seem much too removed and foreshortened to truly give it any sense of what is at stake, and that is something that carries through the length of the movie, making it seem rather disjointed and – while it’s not particularly hard to follow – jumpy, as Frady moves from point to point in following the conspiracy depending far too much on what seems coincidence.

Of course, it could be argued that these coincidences are not what they seem, but that is not a point that the movie really addresses, so the viewer is left at times having to play catch up just a bit too much.

pvaAs far as the acting goes, Beatty, whose talent onscreen was unfortunately for most of his career overshadowed by his offscreen reputation turns in his usual engaging performance. He is very ably backed by a supporting cast which includes Hume Cronyn, William Daniels and Paula Prentiss, all of whom are good here, but never seem as engaged as they would be in other roles.

In the end, The Parallax View is a pretty typical 70s conspiracy thriller, complete with a relatively nihilistic ending which was the going trend at the time. It is certainly worth the time if you have nothing better to do with an evening and are a fan of this kind of film, but at the same time, I can’t consider putting it in the category of a “must see”.

(The preceding review was, by the way, paid for by the Parallax Corporation, but you should not take that as any indication that it was designed to throw you off the scent of any ongoing assassination conspiracies or other ongoing schemes. Probably.)

 

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Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.

Throwback Thursday – The Parallax View (1974)

Between this blog and my previous one, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest, I’ve been writing about movies for quite a while now. Because of that, there are a lot of posts that have simply gotten lost to the mists of time. So, I figured I’d use the idea of “Throwback Thursday” to spotlight some of those older posts, re-presenting them pretty much exactly as they first appeared except for updating links where necessary or possible, and doing just a bit of re-formatting to help them fit better into the style of this blog. Hope you enjoy these looks back.

The current political season has put me in a mindset to go back to revisit some of the great political conspiracy thrillers of the late 60s and early 70s. Thus, for this week’s Throwback Thursday I thought we’d revisit a post from July of 2013 and a look at one of my favorites, Alan J. Pakula’s The Parallax View.

By the way, I know the postings here have been even more sparse than usual of late, but I’m hoping to get back on track starting probably the first of next week with at least a couple of new posts including the return of the Top 250)

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Conspiracy Theorists Need To Apply – The Parallax View (1972)

Parallax_View_movie_posterI’m not sure exactly why I decided last night’s movie would be 1974’s The Parallax View, or even when I put it in my Netflix queue. Still, there it was, and since I was in a kind of “what the heck” mood, I decided to give it a go.

Coming out at a time when political corruption, conspiracy theories, and political assassinations were all at the forefront of the American psyche, The Parallax View is according to Wikipedia, the middle film in director Alan J. Pakula’s so-called “Political Paranoia Trilogy” which also includes 1971’s Klute, which I haven’t yet seen, and 1976’s All The President’s Men, which I have. (Though it has been awhile, and I probably should revisit it sometime soon.) This is not to say that the film relies on any knowledge of, or even directly relates to either of those films, as the link between them is one of theme more than plot.

The Parallax view stars Warren Beatty as Joseph Frady, a somewhat naive reporter who finds himself drawn unwillingly into a world of political intrigue and, yes. conspiratorial assassination. The guiding force behind these assassinations turns out to be the titular Parallax Corporation which actively recruits people like Frady, people who seem to be on the edge, to become assassins.

Or do they?

pSub2The movie is very much one of its time, making use of then-popular pop-culture tropes such as personality testing and visual brain washing. There is even a scene which echoes the forced retraining scene in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, with a very interesting video montage, though the scene itself is much less disturbing and intense than that of the Kubrick film.

And perhaps that’s the problem with the entire film, and why it was less well received and remains much less well remembered than Pakula’s two other films in this “trilogy”. It simply never manages to convey any real sense of intensity or immediacy. Under Pakula’s direction, scenes such as the opening fight on the top of Seattle’s Space Needle, which could have provided great tension seem much too removed and foreshortened to truly give it any sense of what is at stake, and that is something that carries through the length of the movie, making it seem rather disjointed and – while it’s not particularly hard to follow – jumpy, as Frady moves from point to point in following the conspiracy depending far too much on what seems coincidence.

pLight2Of course, it could be argued that these coincidences are not what they seem, but that is not a point that the movie really addresses, so the viewer is left at times having to play catch up just a bit too much.

As far as the acting goes, Beatty, whose talent onscreen was unfortunately for most of his career overshadowed by his offscreen reputation turns in his usual engaging performance. He is very ably backed by a supporting cast which includes Hume Cronyn, William Daniels and Paula Prentiss, all of whom are good here, but never seem as engaged as they would be in other roles.

In the end, The Parallax View is a pretty typical 70s conspiracy thriller, complete with a relatively nihilistic ending which was the going trend at the time. It is certainly worth the time if you have nothing better to do with an evening and are a fan of this kind of film, but at the same time, I can’t consider putting it in the category of a “must see”.

(The preceding review was, by the way, paid for by the Parallax Corporation, but you should not take that as any indication that it was designed to throw you off the scent of any ongoing assassination conspiracies or other ongoing schemes. Probably.)

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Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.

 

The Green, Green Grass of Sexual Frustration – A Quickie Review of Splendor In The Grass (1961)

sp1Okay, I admit it, like most teenagers I went through my share of angst and sexual frustration, but damn, have these kids got it bad.

Wait, did I say teenagers? Yeah, I did. And honestly, that’s one of this movie’s biggest problems. At the time this movie was made, both Warren Beatty (making his film debut here) and Natalie Wood were in their late 20s. And while I know it’s traditional to cast older actors as teenagers, the entire cast of this movie is simply too old to in any way resemble teenagers, and Wood especially just looks silly when she’s overky cheefully bouncing up and down every time she greets her girlfriends.

Maybe it was the desire to hire actors who director Elia Kazan felt could carry the emotional weight of the story he wanted to tell. Perhaps it was, as is often the case, simply the desire to avoid having to make the necessary concessions that come along with hiring more age-appropriate actors. I don’t know. What I do know is that, despite the strength of their performance, the fact that neither of the leads could shed the maturity of both their age and skill really undercuts any sense that these characters belong in a high school classroom, or that they should be wearing their hearts so vividly upon their sleeves.

Maybe that’s the reason this supposed tearjerker left me far from moved by the plight of its main characters? Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s simply that the entire endeavor seems overwrought and that the emotions and motivations of Beatty’s Bud Stamper and Wood’s “Deanie” Loomis veer so strongly from scene to scene that it’s really hard to figure out not only where they actually are emotionally, but to really buy into their frustrated love plights.

sg2Taking just one example, when we’re first introduced to the couple, they’re making out in Bud’s car, and we have Deanie telling Bud “No, stop, we mustn’t, we mustn’t”, which is met with utter frustration by a car-door-slamming Bud. Not long after, in a scene that remains rather shocking, and I suspect was even moreso back in 1961, We see Bud forcing Deanie to her knees into a position that seems one zipper away from him forcing her to… well, I suspect you get the idea. Though Bud eventually backs off from this, the scene ends with Deanie telling Bud she really will do anything he wants her to, because she loves him so much.

And so it goes, back and forth, back and forth, and maybe all of this “I will, I won’t” type thing is supposed to mirror the over-the-top rampaging hormones of the teenage years, and it certainly isn’t helped by Deanie’s mother who keeps telling her that good girls don’t let boys touch them, much less have sex with them, nor by Bud’s father, who encourages him to – if he’s that frustrated by Deanie’s continuous refutations – find a “different kind of girl” to sow his wild oats with.

sp2By the way, I should take this moment to note that though I was somewhat less than impressed by both Beatty and Wood in this, since they really overact a lot of their scenes, with Beatty in particular not just chewing the scenery, but seeming to look around for even more to chomp upon every chance he gets, I did enjoy seeing Pat Hingle in the cast as Bud’s mostly single minded oil-baron father. Not that is performance is any more restrained than anyone else in the film, but at least he does seem to understand that his role is ridiculously over the top, something the younger stars never quite seem to grasp.

The film does deserve credit for (spoiler warning, I suppose) not giving it’s characters a “they lived happily ever after” ending, which is rather satisfying, but, though the film, like it’s stars is always quite beautiful, it never seems to know just what it wants, nor how to properly express itself.

Saturday Double Feature: Heaven Is For Real (2014) and…

Saturday on the blog means Saturday Double Feature, right? Remember, the basic idea here is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

For some reason it seems that God is a big-time presence in the multiplexes this year, from films like God Is Not Dead and Son of God to Noah (which, okay, substitutes “The Creator” for “God”, but still… And this week, just in time for Easter, we get Heaven Is For Real.

It’s kind of beyond the range of this feature to really comment on whether I agree with any of these films varying takes on heaven amd/or God, so I won’t. Instead, I’ll simply note that according to this 1976 Warren Beatty feature, whatever the case may be, Heaven Can Wait.

So what do you think? Are you looking forward to or have you already seen Heaven is fir Real? Do you have any other ideas for pairing films with it? If so, let me know below. And also let me know of any other upcoming movies you’d like to see “double featured”. Consider it, if you will, your chance to challenge me to come up with an interesting pair.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!

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Conspiracy Theorists Need To Apply – The Parallax View (1974)

Parallax_View_movie_posterI’m not sure exactly why I decided last night’s movie would be 1974’s The Parallax View, or even when I put it in my Netflix queue. Still, there it was, and since I was in a kind of “what the heck” mood, I decided to give it a go.

Coming out at a time when political corruption, conspiracy theories, and political assassinations were all at the forefront of the American psyche, The Parallax View is according to Wikipedia, the middle film in director Alan J. Pakula‘s so-called “Political Paranoia Trilogy” which also includes 1971’s Klute, which I haven’t yet seen, and 1976’s All The President’s Men, which I have. (Though it has been awhile, and I probably should revisit it sometime soon.) This is not to say that the film relies on any knowledge of, or even directly relates to either of those films, as the link between them is one of theme more than plot.

The Parallax view stars Warren Beatty as Joseph Frady, a somewhat naive reporter who finds himself drawn unwillingly into a world of political intrigue and, yes. conspiratorial assassination. The guiding force behind these assassinations turns out to be the titular Parallax Corporation which actively recruits people like Frady, people who seem to be on the edge, to become assassins.

Or do they?

pSub2The movie is very much one of its time, making use of then-popular pop-culture tropes such as personality testing and visual brain washing. There is even a scene which echoes the forced retraining scene in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, with a very interesting video montage, though the scene itself is much less disturbing and intense than that of the Kubrick film.

And perhaps that’s the problem with the entire film, and why it was less well received and remains much less well remembered than Pakula’s two other films in this “trilogy”. It simply never manages to convey any real sense of intensity or immediacy. Under Pakula’s direction, scenes such as the opening fight on the top of Seattle’s Space Needle, which could have provided great tension seem much too removed and foreshortened to truly give it any sense of what is at stake, and that is something that carries through the length of the movie, making it seem rather disjointed and – while it’s not particularly hard to follow – jumpy, as Frady moves from point to point in following the conspiracy depending far too much on what seems coincidence.

pLight2Of course, it could be argued that these coincidences are not what they seem, but that is not a point that the movie really addresses, so the viewer is left at times having to play catch up just a bit too much.

As far as the acting goes, Beatty, whose talent onscreen was unfortunately for most of his career overshadowed by his offscreen reputation turns in his usual engaging performance. He is very ably backed by a supporting cast which includes Hume Cronyn, William Daniels and Paula Prentiss, all of whom are good here, but never seem as engaged as they would be in other roles.

In the end, The Parallax View is a pretty typical 70s conspiracy thriller, complete with a relatively nihilistic ending which was the going trend at the time. It is certainly worth the time if you have nothing better to do with an evening and are a fan of this kind of film, but at the same time, I can’t consider putting it in the category of a “must see”.

(The preceding review was, by the way, paid for by the Parallax Corporation, but you should not take that as any indication that it was designed to throw you off the scent of any ongoing assassination conspiracies or other ongoing schemes. Probably.)