“The Parallax View” (1974) starring Warren Beatty / Z-View

The Parallax View (1974)

Director:  Alan J. Pakula

Screenplay:  David Giler, Lorenzo Semple Jr. based on The Parallax View by Loren Singer

Stars: Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, William Daniels, Hume Cronyn, Chuck Waters, Earl Hindman, Bill McKinney, Jim Davis, Ted Gehring, Doria Cook-Nelson and Kenneth Mars 

Tagline:  Assassination. Try to see it from their point of view.

The Plot…

Joe Frady (Beatty) is a newspaper man covering presidential candidate Charles Carroll’s press conference. Frady’s girlfriend, television reporter Lee Carter (Prentiss) is also covering the event when a gunman shoots and kills Carroll.  An investigation determines that the gunman acted alone.

Three years later, Joe’s ex-girlfriend, Lee, shows up terrified.  Six witnesses to the Carroll assassination have died under mysterious circumstances. Lee believes that she will be next.  Joe tries to calm her and says that she’s over-reacting.  Yes, the witnesses died and some were in unusual circumstances, but all could be explained.  When Lee turns up dead of an overdose, Joe decides to do an investigation of his own.  Soon enough (and after some attempts on his life), Joe discovers an organization named the Parallax Corporation that he believes recruits assassins.  Joe decides to infiltrate the company and bring them down.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Parallax View is definitely a product of its time.  Director Pakula lets scenes play out.  I enjoyed the long, shots and pace, which may be too slow for many of today’s audience members.  Pakula is joined by a cast of powerhouse actors: Beatty, Prentis, Daniels, Cronyn and McKinney.

I would have liked The Parallax View better if I cared more about Joe Frady.  When his ex-girlfriend comes to him scared out of her mind and convinced she is the next target of professional assassins, Joe displays little sympathy.  Then she turns up dead and Joe’s biggest concern is to take up her story.

Joe’s plan to infiltrate a corporation of professional assassins is pretty weak.  The fact that they’ve successfully completed hits on Presidential candidates and those who know too much doesn’t factor into Joe’s thinking.  I had problems with Joe’s actions when he discovers a bomb is on his flight.  Joe also under-reacts when the “corporation” discovers he’s been lying to them.  There are other things I could nit pick, but the truth of the matter is that the direction by Alan J. Pakula is entertaining enough that I went with the flow,

The Parallax View earns 3 of 5 stars.