The Parallax View (1974)

parallax view poster 1978 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Decent political thriller

Feels like it could have been pushed farther and harder

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Parallax View

Studio: Doubleday Productions

Genre(s): Action/Adventure/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  June 19, 1974 (US)/October 3, 1974 (UK)

MPAA Rating: R

parallax view space needle seattle

When you start with something this intense, it is hard to go higher (literally)

The public assassination of a prominent political figure in Seattle sparks an investigation which yields few answers. When reporter Joseph Frady (Warren Beatty) learns that people who were present for the assassination have been dying under mysterious circumstances, he begins an investigation against the orders of his editor Bill Rintels (Hume Cronyn). Frady uncovers something bigger than the initial assassination and learns that a group called the Parallax Corporation seem to be behind multiple worldwide murders. Going undercover, Frady intends to expose Parallax…but he quickly discovers he might be in too deep.

Directed by Alan J. Pakula, The Parallax View is a political thriller. The film is based on the 1970 novel by Loren Singer. The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #1064).

parallax view warren beatty

I’m sure my scrappy undercover work will bring down a worldwide multi-government secret cartel!

The 1970s were filled with conspiracy driven thrillers. With a lot of public distrust of the government and social unrest, films were ripe for intrigue. While more of the bigger conspiracy films came after The Parallax View, The Parallax View does hold some similarities to older films.

The movie is really reminiscent of The Manchurian Candidate in plot. The idea of a cabal of killers conditioned to assassinate candidates, celebrities, or other prominent figures falls in line with what you could imagine the aftermath of the assassination attempt in that film. The Parallax View is also one of those films where you know it isn’t probably going to end well and that the character is getting in too deep as the scope of the situation is explored.

Warren Beatty’s character is an odd one. He often comes off as more interested in the fame than the uncovering of the truth. There are multiple times he could have created a “poison pill” to protect himself if something were to happen to him, but he chooses to keep digging rather than potentially cancel his story…and he pays for this.

parallax view assassin hypnosis

This is going to be the best planetarium show ever!!!

Visually, The Parallax View does seem to trim some corners. While I like some of the set pieces (like the damn scene, the convention, and the condition), the highlight of the film comes in the opening sequence with the fight on top of Seattle’s Space Needle. It feels like the movie should have somehow built to something like that rather than use it at the beginning. It grabs you, but nothing else compares to it.

The Parallax View isn’t my favorite thriller. It has its points, but with a plan that is so crazy and so big, it feels too small and too confined as a story. Would people willing to blow-up a boat with political figures on it really not ensure that everyone is dead? Would they play that fast and loose to actually hand out welcome letters to potential assassins? I don’t think that plays well with the ideas and styles of the story…and for that reason The Parallax View misses the target by a bit.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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