The Parallax View (1974)
Directed by Alan J. Pakula
Written by Loren Singer, David Giler, Lorenzo Semple Jr., Robert Towne
Produced by Alan J. Pakula, Robert Jiras, Charles H. Maguire, Gabriel Katzka
Starring Warren Beatty, Hume Cronyn, William Daniels, Paula Prentiss, Walter McGinn, Kelly Thordsen, Earl Hindman, Chuck Waters
During three years sequent to the public murder of a rogue presidential candidate in Seattle's Space Needle, six seemingly quotidian deaths befall witnesses to the hit, adjudged a deranged happenstance by a congressional committee. Before the seventh claims a televised reporter (Prentiss) who conducted the slain campaigner's last interview, she essays to solicit the succor of her sometime boyfriend, a temerarious investigative newswriter (Beatty) whose inquiry disbosoms a string of murders and a private agency's recruitment of assassins whose viability is determined by analysis of conformity to especially aggressive sociopathic psych profiles. Singer's was the most unnerving and notional of the novels adapted to Pakula's filmic paranoia trilogy, inspired by the continual rash of prominent political executions that scandalized the postwar United States and the Warren Commission's dubious conclusions. This third entry's shot and cut with some austere nuance, mayhap the finest exhibition of his artistry: creepier during its tense lulls than upon each in a succession of brutal disclosures, the picture's intrigues radiate a discountenancing miasma foreshadowing the latter that's only relaxed during a few superbly executed action scenes. Prettily rugged Beatty plays his becoming role with a method conviction shared by the supporting cast, but he's upstaged in two scenes by Daniels, who exudes dread with mesmerizing understatement as the dead candidate's quondam campaign manager. Parallax's centerpiece is a photographic montage of creeping portent screened for assassinative prospects presenting pastoral, familial, erotic, criminal and belligerent images in progressively perverse and fleet contrast purposed to pique the pathology of a natural killer; indisputably dated, its potency is scarcely attenuate over four decades later -- a commendable feat for a filmmaker whose most striking devices were so often inexpensive. Pakula's trilogy's predicated on a burden emphasizing some variety of connivance that inflames disquiet. Most of the best witnesses to a crime scene are those most proximate; here, the observers of a historic hit are too close to notice.
Recommended for a double feature paired with Three Days of the Condor.