In that golden period of 1970s American cinema, Klute, The Parallax View, and All The President’s Men make up an unforgettable ALAN J. PAKULA TRILOGY.
ALAN J. PAKULA directed an unforgettable trilogy of movies in Klute, The Parallax View, and All The President’s Men. Along with the award-winning cinematographer Gordon Willis, PAKULA did something very special in the cinema of the early 1970s. In those three films, he thrillingly showed us the dark heart of a country in the middle of a war and still reeling from the loss of John F. Kennedy in 1963.
Firstly in 1971, Donald Sutherland’s titular detective was paired with Jane Fonda’s prostitute Bree to winning effect in KLUTE. A mystery of a disappeared friend that hinges on a connection to a New York call girl is all Sutherland’s John Klute has to go on.
But, as he becomes more and more immersed in Bree’s world, he uncovers a possible string of murders. Suicide, drug addiction, and voyeurism all feature in this brilliant depiction of a New York underbelly that no one wants to really see. Donald Sutherland is as terrific as ever in this and Jane Fonda won the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar that year for her tough and sensual performance.
1974 saw Warren Beatty’s journalist Joe Frady in THE PARALLAX VIEW, woken from his slumber of sleeping around and writing not very good articles for his editor Hume Cronyn, by the return of his ex-girlfriend, chillingly and beautifully played in one devastating scene of increasing unease by Paula Prentiss.
Her brief arrival back into Frady’s life is the catalyst that sends him on an ever darker journey to unravel a mystery which ultimately leads to the mighty Parallax Corporation – a company where brainwashing and possible assassin training are the order of the day behind the scenes. A fantastically cruel but telling ending (that Beatty echoed years later in his own political satire Bulworth) makes this one of the truly great films of the 70s.
PAKULA’s triumvirate was completed in bravura style in 1976 with ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN. The greatest film about crusading journalism sees Bob Woodward (a superb Robert Redford) eventually and dynamically, team up with Carl Bernstein (a brilliant Dustin Hoffman) to expose the vast horror of the Watergate scandal and bring about the resignation of President Nixon.
With a perfect cast that includes Jane Alexander as the book-keeper who holds the key to the trail of money behind the scandal, Hal Holbrook as Woodward’s secret weapon of information ‘Deep Throat’ and Jason Robards in an Oscar-winning turn as The Washington Post’s acerbic editor Ben Bradlee, this is intelligent film-making of the highest order. William Goldman rightly won an Oscar too for his pitch-perfect screenplay, summed up in Jason Robards’ killer line right before the two reporters break the story of their lives:
“Nothing’s riding on this except the, uh, first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country.”
So if you’re feeling like a weekend of watching very classy, very well written, very gripping movies, uncover this ALAN J. PAKULA TRILOGY and enter a gorgeous, shadowy world of paranoia that’s never really been equalled.