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The Parallax View (1974)

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An ambitious reporter gets in way-over-his-head trouble while investigating a senator's assassination which leads to a vast conspiracy involving a multinational corporation behind every event in the world's headlines.


Alan J. Pakula
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Warren Beatty ... Joseph Frady
Paula Prentiss ... Lee Carter
William Daniels ... Austin Tucker
Walter McGinn Walter McGinn ... Jack Younger
Hume Cronyn ... Bill Rintels
Kelly Thordsen ... Sheriff L.D. Wicker
Chuck Waters Chuck Waters ... Thomas Richard Linder
Earl Hindman ... Deputy Red
William Joyce ... Senator Charles Carroll (as Bill Joyce)
Betty Murray Betty Murray ... Mrs. Charles Carroll (as Bettie Johnson)
Bill McKinney ... Parallax Assassin
Jo Ann Harris ... Chrissy - Frady's Girl (as JoAnne Harris)
Ted Gehring ... Schecter - Hotel Clerk
Lee Pulford Lee Pulford ... Shirley - Salmontail Bar Girl
Doria Cook-Nelson Doria Cook-Nelson ... Gale from Salmontail (as Doria Cook)


Joe Frady is a determined reporter who often needs to defend his work from colleagues. After the assassination of a prominent U.S. senator, Frady begins to notice that reporters present during the assassination are dying mysteriously. After getting more involved in the case, Frady begins to realize that the assassination was part of a conspiracy somehow involving the Parallax Corporation, an enigmatic training institute. He then decides to enroll for the Parallax training himself to discover the truth. Written by Philip Brubaker <coda@nando.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


As American as apple pie. See more »


Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

30 September 1974 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Zeuge einer Verschwörung See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


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. See more »


In the opening Independence Day parade sequence, there are no leaves on the tree branches visible as the senator and his wife pass by, but the leaves would be full and green on July 4th in Seattle. See more »


Bill Rintels: When I agreed to take you back in January I made two suggestions. One was about your drinking. Well, you seem to have licked that. The other was that you curb your talent for creative irresponsibility: you can start working on that right now.
See more »


References Mighty Thor (1966) See more »


Blue Hawaii
Written by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Paranoia in Natural Light
24 February 2011 | by jzappaSee all my reviews

I don't know how to start this review of the second installment in Alan J. Pakula's virtuoso Paranoia Trilogy. I guess I'll start at the beginning. The brooding realism of the beginning is arranged with a keen sense of the vertical. The camera divulges Seattle's Space Needle tower behind a totem pole, where an assassination goes down amidst Independence Day pomp. A committee of officials, constrained by the frame, proclaims the lack of evidence of a wider conspiracy, yet these are Watergate times, and Alan J. Pakula marshals his investigation as a compulsory act of "irresponsible speculation." Gordon Willis' cinematography twists the menacing from the everyday with unreserved harshness: Overwhelming architecture, the bomb warning scrawled on a napkin, one character's last cup of coffee. All of the decade's political misgivings and introspection is concentrated into the merciless culmination, with Yankee Doodle trumpeting in the bare hall while unpleasant transactions imbue the catwalks above, a country awakening to methodical obscurity and transparency alike.

What happens to our muck-raking protagonist splinters the movie's straightforward standards and leaves the final 40 minutes or so as the most transcendent, impressionistic illustration of paranoia, not as a psychosomatic condition but more like the belief in it as an idea, that I've ever seen. The first half of Pakula's anamorphically shot impressionistic thriller is about paranoia, the second is paranoia. The movie is not that suspenseful. A lot of times, Beatty's escape from danger seems remarkably effortless, and his way of being recruited by the Parallax Corporation is less an obstacle than a convenient turning of the page to the recruitment itself. The movie is not about suspense. It's about mood and atmosphere. And when something malevolent happens, the suspense is diffused in favor of creeping through this dark, kitchen-sink world governed by power, fear and indoctrination.

Another thing at which Pakula excels, and at which he reached an indelible peak in All the President's Men, is demonstrated consistently throughout The Parallax View. People talk so very quietly in his movies. And if you think about it, if you're this scared all the time, there's no reason to talk any louder than that. And when Paula Prentiss, an estranged fellow journalist of Beatty's who believes someone is trying to kill her, does raise her voice early on in a scene she makes terrifying with a brilliant performance, it's not only rage and fear, our ears are racked with a profound desperation to escape from a silence that's turned lethal. Later, someone else will talk to Beatty, and he will say, "Who are you?" He will be so tranquil and tenderly quiet when he says it.

The evolution is realized through what I sincerely consider to be one of the very central sequences in American cinema in the 1970s, Pakula's virtuoso showpiece of Kuleshov-style perception, the indoctrination slideshow, a celestial event of imagery and keywords shot through the viewer's brains. I could describe further, but the account would be dull and futile. It's simply a conquest of film language in a way that confounds textual explanation. Beholden in no insignificant portion to the Soviet montage theory, in which solitary snippets of imagery are given implication due to the images flanking it, this is shown to us from a character's precise point-of-view. We've become him, and are undergoing exactly what he is.

Pakula shoots on location to capture a careful texture of the outside world's danger much of the time. And he has a strong feeling for the bizarre, as in a scene where a character on a golf cart is shot in a vast banquet hall, and the cart strays, knocks over tables, until police cars arrive on the vestibule floor. There's also an endeavor to enforce the glare of modern American architecture throughout as a monumental backdrop, steel and glass edifices that look somehow…oppressive.

The conclusion has a relentless common sense to it. Sans spoilers, I can merely say that it both insinuates how an establishment might get away with murder, and how the "unassisted loner" hypothesis of assassination has a convincing tidiness about it.

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