>>> Click here for the RMC FAQ'N RULES <<<


parallax view

Tagline: There is no conspiracy. Just twelve people dead.

The Preshow Entertainment was a documentary on the lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury. Lacking in titles (who are these talking heads?) and footage (lots of images that had nothing to do with Freddie or Queen, to either Queen music or the person talking), FREDDIE MERCURY: THE UNTOLD STORY still managed to inform and entertain.

We learned a lot about Mr. Bulsara through A-Listers like Mick Jagger, Phil Collins (I hate calling him an A-Lister), Elton John, Roger Daltrey, and even Liza Minnelli (who called Freddie "mad as a hatter", which just shows you how crazy Freddie was). Also on board, the remaining members of Queen, Freddie's mum ("he'll always be my baby"), and Mary, his wonderfully candid girlfriend from before he realized just who he was.

This was a doc I recorded from the now dead Trio network (Pop! Culture! TV!). Trio ran the greatest stuff, not just programs and movies not on other nets, but more importantly, not on DVD or tape, like the hilarious WHO'S THE CABOOSE? and its companion mini-season of PILOT SEASON (if you have a copy of these, please let me know...we need to make a deal). And BRILLIANT BUT CANCELLED. Trio was owned by NBC, and I suppose it didn't have enough subscribers, so they yanked the whole channel. Curiously, their website remains up, claiming they will run things via broadband. That site hasn't changed in over a year. Many cable companies replaced Trio with a network called Sleuth. Now we can finally all watch reruns of THE EQUALIZER.

Freddie and Trio, dead waaaay before their time. R.I.P.

I love political thrillers. And except for the movie CONSPIRACY THEORY, I love movies with a conspiracy theory (or fact). THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (umm, the original, not the remake) is one of my favorite movies, and WINTER KILLS (have you seen this one? Wow, what a cast- John Huston, Anthony Perkins, Jeff Bridges, Toshiro Mifune, and...Elizabeth Taylor!?) is one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies. Hell, I even bought into the Kris Kristofferson/Treat Williams fun and wacky FLASHPOINT.

But somewhere past the suburban streets of ARLINGTON ROAD lies (and I do mean "lies") a movie called THE PARALLAX VIEW.

Released in 1974, barely-post-Watergate, and post-post-JFK, THE PARALLAX VIEW's plot is knee deep in the themes of the time (which still exist today)- government corruption (the Warren commission's "lone gunman") and paranoia. And it also gets my nomination, if not award, for "Best Murder in an Opening Scene".

It's three years after the aforementioned murder. Warren Beatty, the Brad Pitt of the '70s, plays Joe, an overenthusiastic, hungry, yet low-level reporter for a Northwest newspaper so small its editor (Hume Cronyn) seems to be the only one who works there. Joe's ex-girlfriend Lee (Paula Prentiss) comes to his place, scared out of her wits. Someone is trying to kill her, she claims. They've killed six witnesses of the senator's murder and now they are after her. True, all the people have died, but nothing was suspicious (heart attacks, etc.). Plus Lee's had a history of paranoia, so Joe doesn't believe her. Smashcut to: Lee on the slab.

We now follow Joe as he attempts to unravel the vast conspiracy that leads him to small towns and big cities. He knows he's on the right track when he himself is almost killed (twice). That's when he stumbles on a company, the Parallax Corporation, that he believes is behind it all. He creates a new identity, and gets recruited by first passing a written test, and then a visual- sitting in a chair ala A CLOCKWORK ORANGE watching a montage of images both safe and dangerous. This montage lasts a staggering four minutes of film time (that could be the equivalent of seven SEINFELD scenes), and took over sixty people to put it together for the film.

And that's all I'm going to say. I've already spoiled enough for you. Because THE PARALLAX VIEW is a really fun ride, and you need to take it.

Directed by Alan J. Pakula, whose body of work is much more impressive than, say, Pamela Anderson's body of work (to name a few: STARTING OVER, SOPHIE'S CHOICE, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD). His eye for framing in TPV is spot on. Certainly, "is what you are seeing actually what you are seeing" or "a different view of the same object" is the whole point of the movie, hence the title. Internally, that's the core of the thriller here. And Pakula manifests it onscreen as well.
seattle skyline
There are things that are larger than life, like Seattle's Space Needle and a dam with its water being released. Then there are altered perspectives- one scene takes place on a children's railroad ride with Beatty and his friend looking like giants in the little cars, and another has Beatty poking his head through the smallest reception area window in history, again, making him look huge in the frame within a frame. And lots of shots from afar, while the volume stays close, which adds to that Jarring Factor since we only hear who they want us to hear and no one else in the scene.

Pakula set the stage for the movie in that opening scene- You never know quite what's around the corner. Smart for a story about a guy with that exact problem. This creates a kind of suspense rarely seen today. There's a scene on the plane that is pure Hitchcockian. Pakula really made this movie work.

Helping him was Gordon Willis, a nearly untouchable cinematographer. Must I? Okay- THE GODFATHER, THE GODFATHER PART II, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, ANNIE HALL (and 7 other Woody Allens), KLUTE).

Interestingly, the fabulous script (based on a novel) for TPV was co-written by Lorenzo Semple, Jr. Sound familiar? He wrote a lot of the 1960's BATMAN episodes. He also did some great things (THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR) and not so great things(1976's KING KONG).

TPV also marks the third RMC/UMC appearance of actor Anthony Zerbe (THE MOLLY MAGUIRES and COOL HAND LUKE), who appears here uncredited.

space needle
One more note about the Space Needle. Years ago, when the world was young, I, along with a fellow RMCer, scouted Seattle for locations for a movie shoot. One of these was the Space Needle. We were able to get access to the roof, via a metal ladder and trap door, like on a submarine. It was rainy, as usual, and there was a foreboding puddle at the bottom of the ladder. Still, we ventured upward and through the trap door. Standing on the declining roof of the Needle was simultaneously scary and thrilling. The roof was slippery and sloped downward, hence the scary. But to stand up there, with just air, looking over Seattle, that's the thrilling. One of the coolest moments in my life.

Pakula's life was sadly cut short (at 70!) while driving on the Long Island Expressway. A piece of metal hit by another car flew through his windshield. A freak accident. Or was it?

Tags: , , , , ,


Feed Burner Subscribe in a reader

Powered byFeedBlitz

About ...

RMC email address
Old RMC Men

RMC is not affiliated with Rochester Midland Corporation, makers of fine restroom disinfecting fluids and urinal mats since 1888.


Powered by Pizza, Red Vines,
& 6 Different Kinds of Soda



This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from Random Movie Club. Make your own badge here.

((( Contribute to our Popcorn Fund! )))

Best Viewed With Firefox 2

Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to Technorati Favorites!

eXTReMe Tracker