August 15, 2018

Episode 377: The Parallax View (1974)

Special Guests: William Daniels, Bonnie Bartlett, Barna William Donovan, Shane O’Sullivan
Guest Co-Hosts: Chris Stachiw, Jess Byard

Alan J. Pakula's, The Parallax View (1974) stars Warren Beatty as reporter Joe Frady. After a mysterious series of deaths, Frady gets embroiled in an investigation that leads him to The Parallax Corporation, a shady company that finds and recruits sociopaths in order to use them as assassins.

Interviews this episode include actor William Daniels and his wife Bonnie Bartlett, author Barna Donovan (Conspiracy Films: A Tour of Dark Places in the American Conscious), and filmmaker Shane O'Sullivan (RFK Must Die).

Clip of Lorenzo Semple Jr. from Television Academy Foundation.

Jess Byard and Chris Stachiw join Mike to discuss the book, the script, the rewrite and the eventual final product.

Listen/Download Now:

Links:
Buy The Parallax View on DVD
Buy The Parallax View by Loren Singer
Buy There I Go Again: How I Came to Be Mr. Feeny, John Adams, Dr. Craig, KITT, and Many Others by William Daniels
Buy Confirmation: Investigations of the Unexplained by Barna William Donovan
Buy Who Killed Bobby? : The Unsolved Murder of Robert F. Kennedy by Shane O'Sullivan
Listen to our Executive Action episode
Listen to our Blow Out episode

Music:
Original Soundtrack by Michael Small

Watch:








5 comments:

  1. 72 minutes in. I dearly, dearly wish one of your co-hosts had a broader POV on why the motives of Parallax Co may not fit neatly within the two-party narrative.

    TO QUOTE NOAM CHOMSKY:
    "In the US, there is basically one party - the business party. It has two factions, called Democrats and Republicans, which are somewhat different but carry out variations on the same policies."

    Personally I think the film would be lessened if Parallax Co was explained as being one of these factions perpetrating a conspiracy upon the other.

    I believe Mr. White is attempting to acknowledge this larger complexity when speaking of "Manufacturing Dissent."

    We don't need to know whether Deckard's a Replicant, whether MacReady or Childs are The Thing, or which political party - if any - that Parallax Co sympathizes with.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for this episode on one of my favorite movies with some wonderful background information and interviews.

    The Parallax View is the perfect movie for repeat viewings, and it's disheartening that nobody could secure a good widescreen copy. Both the original region 1 Paramount dvd and the reissue dvd were readily available up until a couple of years ago, and I have watched the movie on my 50 inch plasma TV without ever feeling I missed details or action was bad to follow in the darker scenes.

    Probably this accounts for the fact that the visual aspect of the movie got short shrift in the episode. The visual choices and cinematography using the very edges of the frame tell a lot about the themes of the movie: the individual getting dwarfed by corporate structures as the movie progresses, and as he recedes further into the landscape and outer edges becoming a pawn along the way.

    Also prescient, the use of obvious American symbols throughout (culminating in the montage sequence) turning out to be hollow vessels of significance which only seem to exist to manipulate the individual into a false sense of nostalgia and misguided patriotism.

    For me, watching from my own parallax viewpoint, the goals of the Parallax Corporation fall in line with the idea that creating fear and instability is the whole point for the people that pay the company for their services. Whether candidate X or Y gets killed, the fear and instability it creates will give rise to a malleable political, economical and social reality, which can then be exploited by those standing to gain from the constantly shifting realities.

    Keep up the good work with the podcasts Mike!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi,

    I know I'm a little late to this one. Your guest professes not having seen any Beatty films prior to this. That seems a critical flaw in being able to talk about this movie. Beatty's persona developed intentionally through all his films, even before he was writing/ directing and particularly after B&C. The Beatty pesona mostly relates to myths, false appearances, bravado, and his "meta" status as a movie star in everything from B&C to Shampoo to Bulworth and even Rules Don't Apply. His singular charismatic person in the middle of all his stories informs his somewhat guileless perfect everyman (not) in this film. It plays/ is playing on that and different casting would have made it a different film.

    You also spend a lot of time confused by the lapses in logic or more clear narrative without ever thinking these are intentional decisions by Pakula/ Giler/ Semple. 1974 post-Watergate was a very different time for movies and the sense of abandoned narrative worked then better than might be appreciated now.

    I am often disappointed by current commentators who fail to understand the time in which a certain piece was created and use 2018 criteria to judge a 1974 film. Please remember this is a product of its age, as all films are. I'm not trying to defend Parallax as the best movie ever, just asking to defend it on its own terms.

    On a side note, De Palma's Blow Out was mentioned a couple of times as well as one guest's admission he'd never seen more than one Antonioni. JFK inspiration (an admitted De Palma talisman) aside, Antonioni's Blow-Up informs Blow Out more than any one film/historical event.

    I don't want to disparage the great work you're doing. This film just seems to need a deeper understanding of what was around it to appreciate why it is what it is and what it isn't what it isn't.

    Cheers, Roger

    ReplyDelete
  4. Downloaded and watched this specifically so I could listen to the podcast afterwards. I had a vague recollection that it was a pretty well-respected thriller and went in with high hopes. I was sorely and surprisingly disappointed. I thought the movie was bad TV-movie-level dreck. The story and execution lacked any subtlety or nuance and it just seemed like a cardboard, choppy and simplistic attempt at grand political intrigue. Needless to say, the lavish praise of the podcast mystified me. Big fan of the podcast, but we seriously diverged on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for this episode on one of my favorite movies with some wonderful background information and interviews. The Parallax View is the perfect movie for repeat viewings, and it's disheartening that nobody participating on the podcast managed to secure a good widescreen copy. Both the original region 1 Paramount dvd and the reissue dvd were readily available up until a couple of years ago, and I have watched the movie on my plasma TV with great enjoyment for the last 17 years. So it's too bad the visual aspect of the movie got short shrift in the episode. The visual choices and cinematography using the very edges of the frame tell so much about the themes of the movie: the individual getting dwarfed by corporate structures as the movie progresses, and becoming a pawn along the way. Also prescient, the use of American symbols (culminating in the montage sequence) turning out to be hollow vessels of significance which only seem to exist to manipulate the individual into a false sense of nostalgia and misguided patriotism. And for me, probably watching from my own parallax viewpoint, the goals of the Parallax Corporation fall in line with the idea that creating fear and instability is the whole point for the people that pay the company for their services. Whether candidate X or Y gets killed, the fear and instability it creates will give rise to a malleable political, economical and social reality, which can then be exploited by those standing to gain from the constantly shifting realities. And so it goes!

    ReplyDelete