The film's director Alan J. Pakula described the picture as "sort of an American myth based on some things that have happened, some fantasies we may have had of what might have happened, and a lot of fears a lot of us have had . . . The Parallax View was a whole other kind of filmmaking for me".
A parallax refers to the difference in direction of an object when seen from different view points. An example would be the driver and passenger of a car seeing the speedometer needle pointing to different numbers because the passenger is not seeing the gauge straight on. The idea of looking at the same issue with different view points is a recurring theme of this movie.
This is one of a trilogy of thrillers directed by Alan J. Pakula, along with Klute (1971) and All the President's Men (1976). This was the only one not released by Warner Bros. Pictures and the only one to not win any Academy Awards or nominations.
The film is adapted from a 1970 novel by Loren Singer with the same title, about a reporter's dangerous investigation into an obscure organization, the Parallax Corporation, whose primary enterprise is political assassination.
First film that star Warren Beatty was seen in for around three years with Beatty's last at the time having been $ (1971). In between, Beatty was involved raising finance and political campaigning for presidential candidate George McGovern who was unsuccessful in becoming the President of the United States of America.
Prior to a film writers' strike, screenwriter David Giler was hired to do re-writes. Director Alan J. Pakula spent a large amount of time during the production shoot being involved with the film's re-writes.
In the opening sequence at the Space Needle, a news cameraman is holding a TV camera with a KOMO 4 logo on it. KOMO 4 is an actual Seattle news channel, whose broadcasting center is located just across the street from the Space Needle.