The Parallax View

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Publication.png The Parallax View 
The Parallax View.png
Publication date19 June 1974
Producer(s)Alan J. Pakula
Subjectsassassinations,  hard power,  statecraft
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Reminiscent of the assassinations of the 1960s and the attempt on Ronald Reagan

The Parallax View is a 1974 American political thriller film. The plot is that "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 worlds headlines."[1]

The story is reminiscent of the assassinations of the 1960s and the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, and touches on a third rail subject, how powerful interests create patsies to hide the real perpetrators.

See also:

The brainwashing sequence


In Seattle, Washington, television journalist Lee Carter witnesses the assassination of presidential candidate Charles Carroll atop the Space Needle. A waiter armed with a revolver is pursued and falls to his death while a second waiter, also armed, leaves the scene unnoticed. A committee decides the killing was the work of a lone assassin. Three years later, Carter visits her former boyfriend, an anti-authoritarian Oregon newspaper reporter named Joe Frady, claiming others must have been behind the assassination as six of the witnesses to the killing have since died and she fears she will be next. Frady does not take her seriously; however, Carter is soon found dead of a drug overdose.

Guilty over disregarding Carter's pleas, Frady visits the small town of Salmontail to probe the recent death of Judge Arthur Bridges, also a witness. After engaging in a bar fight with a local deputy, Frady attracts the attention of Salmontail's sheriff L. D. Wicker, who offers to take Frady to the spot where Bridges drowned. When they arrive at the dam, however, Wicker pulls his gun on Frady while the floodgates are opening, plotting to have him drown the same way Bridges did. Frady manages to escape, while Wicker drowns. Frady commandeers Wicker's squad car, and at the sheriff's house he uncovers Parallax Corporation documents which reveal that the organization recruits political assassins.

Frady tries to convince his skeptical newspaper editor Bill Rintels he is onto a big story, connecting the dots of witnesses of assassinations who have died, but Rintels refuses to support his efforts. Undaunted, Frady seeks out a local psychology professor who assesses the Parallax Corporation's personality test taken from Wicker's desk, and deems it to be likely a profiling exam to identify psychopaths.

Austin Tucker, the paranoid aide to the assassinated Carroll and last remaining witness, agrees to meet Frady on his boat, while anxiously revealing there have been two attempts on his life since Carroll's assassination. Shortly after Tucker shows photos to Frady of the second waiter, who was the actual gunman, a bomb explodes onboard, killing Tucker and his assistant. Frady survives by diving overboard but is believed to be dead. Later that night, Frady slips into the newspaper's offices and informs Rintels of his belief that he has uncovered an organization that recruits assassins, and wants the public to believe he is dead so he can apply to the Parallax Corporation under an assumed identity.

Days later, Jack Younger, a Parallax official, pays Frady a visit to let him know he is, based on his preliminary application, the kind of man Parallax is interested in. Frady is accepted for training in the Parallax Corporation's division of Human Engineering in Los Angeles, where he watches a montage which associates positive images with negative actions.

While leaving the Parallax's offices, Frady recognizes one of the Parallax operatives from a photo Tucker showed him, as the second waiter from Carroll's assassination. He watches the assassin retrieve a case from a car, drive to an airport, and check it as stowed baggage on a passenger jet. Frady boards the plane and notices a senator aboard, but cannot find the assassin, who is actually watching the jet's takeoff from the airport's roof. Frady writes a warning that there is a bomb on board on a napkin and slips it onto the drink service cart. The warning is found and the jet returns to Los Angeles. Passengers are evacuated moments before the bomb explodes.

Returning to his apartment, Frady is confronted by Younger about not being the man whose identity he has been using. Frady 'confesses' he is actually yet another man who had been trying to hide that he was a registered sex offender, and Younger agrees to validate this new identity. Later, at the newspaper office, Rintels listens to a secretly recorded tape of the conversation between Frady and Younger, then places it in an envelope with other such tapes. Rintels is poisoned by the senator's killer and bomb-planter and the tapes disappear.

Frady goes to the Parallax offices to see Younger, and is told he is not there, but then sees him leaving the building. He follows the operative to the dress rehearsal for a political rally for Senator George Hammond and hides in the auditorium's catwalks to observe Parallax agents, who are posing as security personnel. Frady attempts to follow one of the men back to the auditorium, but finds he had been locked in the catwalk area. As Hammond drives a golf cart across the auditorium floor, an unseen sniper fatally shoots him, causing pandemonium below.

Frady realizes too late he has been set up as a scapegoat and attempts to flee across the catwalks, but is spotted by the police who are now in the auditorium below. As Frady runs to the reopened exit door from the catwalks, a shadowy agent (implied to be the same Parallax assassin whom the audience and Frady have seen throughout the film) steps through, killing Frady with a shotgun. Six months later, a committee that investigated Carroll's death reports that Frady, acting alone, killed Hammond out of paranoia and misguided patriotism.

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