The 1970s Conspiracy / Espionage / Paranoia Movie Poll

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Renegade KGB/CIA + underground Nazis + terrorists + Cold War + Watergate + post-60s disillusionment + 1970s political malaise = some of my favorite movies ever.

The most difficult part of compiling the choices for this was deciding what to leave out. There's an entire subset of post-Exorcist evil bible and paranormal movies that technically could be included, but I'll save that for another poll. The one paranormal exception I'll make is for The Fury which is basically a straight-up political thriller. I'm also leaving out period movies like Brass Target and The Hindenburg and some of the overt SF ones (Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Westworld, and The Stepford Wives), even though I did leave in Moonraker and the Bond movies. Wasn't sure on including straight-up action thrillers like Juggernaut, but had to draw the line somewhere otherwise I'd be including Serpico, The French Connection, etc.

And yes, Alternative 3 was a TV show and not a movie, but it definitely earns a spot on this list.

Also, this is one of the few polls where I've seen everything on the list.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
The Conversation 10
The Parallax View 5
Network 3
All The President's Men 2
Three Days Of The Condor 2
Live And Let Die 1
Marathon Man 1
Day Of The Jackal 1
The China Syndrome 1
The Boys From Brazil 1
Capricorn One 1
Who? 0
Westworld 0
Moonraker 0
Telefon 0
The Odessa File 0
The Spy Who Loved Me 0
Puppet On A Chain 0
Le Serpent 0
The Spook Who Sat By The Door 0
S*P*Y*S 0
The Swiss Conspiracy 0
The Man With The Golden Gun 0
The Mackintosh Man 0
Alternative 3 0
Americathon 0
Bear Island 0
Black Sunday 0
Brotherhood Of The Bell 0
Coma 0
The Delta Factor 0
Diamonds Are Forever 0
The Domino Principle 0
The Executioner 0
Executive Action 0
The Fury 0
The Groundstar Conspiracy 0
Juggernaut 0
The Kremlin Letter 0
Winter Kills0


Elvis Telecom, Monday, 12 May 2008 23:33 (6 years ago) Permalink

I saw thread title and thought to myself "Obviously, <I>The Conversation</i>."

Oilyrags, Monday, 12 May 2008 23:35 (6 years ago) Permalink

KLUTE?

El Tomboto, Monday, 12 May 2008 23:44 (6 years ago) Permalink

I am going to vote for a different movie every day on this though

El Tomboto, Monday, 12 May 2008 23:45 (6 years ago) Permalink

this needs Parts: the Clonus Horror

latebloomer, Monday, 12 May 2008 23:46 (6 years ago) Permalink

I'm also leaving out period movies like Brass Target and The Hindenburg and some of the overt SF ones (Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Westworld, and The Stepford Wives)

Westworld's still on the list

latebloomer, Monday, 12 May 2008 23:47 (6 years ago) Permalink

If The Conversation doesn't win this then there is no justice in the world.

Alex in SF, Monday, 12 May 2008 23:49 (6 years ago) Permalink

That said there are a lot of really good movies here.

Alex in SF, Monday, 12 May 2008 23:50 (6 years ago) Permalink

KLUTE?

Forgot about it, but it doesn't quite fit? (Also forgot to include the Candidate)

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 12 May 2008 23:52 (6 years ago) Permalink

Westworld's still on the list

Just noticed it. I suspect that it's not going to take away a lot of votes though.

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 12 May 2008 23:53 (6 years ago) Permalink

If The Conversation doesn't win this then there is no justice in the world.

As much as I love The Conversation, I may vote for The Parallax View. I want to vote for everything on this list...

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 12 May 2008 23:55 (6 years ago) Permalink

today's vote was actually 3DOTC

El Tomboto, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:05 (6 years ago) Permalink

my gut instinct is parallax view as well, even though so much about the film is a little graceless and klunky...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNMi8fXi5Os

(this is the centerpiece scene of the film and if you haven't seen it you should save it to see this in context)

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:09 (6 years ago) Permalink

parallax view is great but I think it suffers unjustly from how it's been bitten and scratched so many times by dozens of thrillers in its wake. when I finally got around to seeing it I was amazed at how predictable (and yes, a little clunky) it seemed, only because I've seen way too many movies that wouldn't even exist if Pakula hadn't made TPV

El Tomboto, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:17 (6 years ago) Permalink

I will say that TPV fits all three categories in the thread title, but The Conversation is still a million times better (and so frankly is Day of the Jackal.)

Alex in SF, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:19 (6 years ago) Permalink

A bunch of these I've seen and don't recall at all (which is not a good sign) but I remember liking anyway (The Mackintosh Man, The Odessa File) whereas others I remember but don't think much of (Black Sunday, Marathon Man, most of the Bonds.)

Alex in SF, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:22 (6 years ago) Permalink

I guess it's just that there's something so utterly monophonic and shallow about it's thesis for why so many politicians were getting assassinated that it really helped me to imagine just how disorienting the early 70's must have been for people, and then that collage film just hammers it home -- you're having all these flinching touchbutton responses to all the same neurotic touchpoints during a personality test for potential killers --'what's happened to our country' etc.

so if I were to vote for it, it'd be because of how well it defines this genre in context with all the other films, granted Conversation is a work of art and Network does not let up, and I haven't seen about a third of these... yet

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:25 (6 years ago) Permalink

I actually kinda prefer Day of the Jackal to the Converssation.

remy bean, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:30 (6 years ago) Permalink

I haven't even seen that yet, so I'll start there

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:31 (6 years ago) Permalink

I like movies where things go all the way to the top.

burt_stanton, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:32 (6 years ago) Permalink

this is hard!

torn between conversation, parallax view and 3 days of the condor but most of these are very watchable

what about the ostermann weekend

m coleman, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:41 (6 years ago) Permalink

black sunday is cool too

m coleman, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:42 (6 years ago) Permalink

i voted for "parallax view", even though i think "day of the jackal" is the best movie here. but it doesn't fit the thread title that well - it's more of a really good police procedural than an espionage film, isn't it?

i really like "the conversation", "all the president's men", "three days of the condor" and "westworld".

re: "the conversation" ... what about "blow up"?

moonship journey to baja, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:48 (6 years ago) Permalink

I guess it's just that there's something so utterly monophonic and shallow about it's thesis for why so many politicians were getting assassinated

isn't a conspiracy monophonic by definition?!?

moonship journey to baja, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:49 (6 years ago) Permalink

what about the ostermann weekend

Released in 1983.

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:52 (6 years ago) Permalink

The Conversation

Zeno, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:54 (6 years ago) Permalink

I actually kinda prefer Day of the Jackal to the Converssation.

-- remy bean, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:30 (14 hours ago) Link

That said, there's no way I can vote here. Voting activates the protocols that lead to my 'disappearance'. There are too many fun movies on this list.

Michael White, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 15:13 (6 years ago) Permalink

today's vote was actually 3DOTC

Recuse yourself!

Klute is certainly a paranoid movie, better than Parallax and maybe even AllPrezMen among Pakula's trilogy.

still waiting for my library res of The Spook Who Sat By The Door!

Putting 007 movies in with these is nucking futz.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 15:21 (6 years ago) Permalink

Parallax View - it's probably not the best movie here but it was the first one that made me go OMG SHOCK ENDING

Noodle Vague, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 15:22 (6 years ago) Permalink

oh come on morbs what's more paranoid than sending a 7' tall man with metal teeth into outer space with his new dorky yet zaftig brazilian girlfriend

El Tomboto, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 15:25 (6 years ago) Permalink

wow, i have not seen most of these. day of the jackal is going on my list, i know i saw it on tv as a kid but don't remember anything about it.

Jordan, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 15:36 (6 years ago) Permalink

blow out? is that 80s?

n/a, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 15:43 (6 years ago) Permalink

1981, I think.

jaymc, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 15:45 (6 years ago) Permalink

yes.

isn't One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nset close enough for this?

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 15:48 (6 years ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

ILX System, Sunday, 18 May 2008 23:01 (6 years ago) Permalink

As much as I heart The Parallax View and All The President's Men, this has to be The Conversation. For the closing saxophone scene alone it deserves to top this list.

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 19 May 2008 10:03 (6 years ago) Permalink

i totally thought we'd done this poll before

Ste, Monday, 19 May 2008 10:13 (6 years ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

ILX System, Monday, 19 May 2008 23:01 (6 years ago) Permalink

justice is served

Oilyrags, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 12:16 (6 years ago) Permalink

James Redd and the Blecchs, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 13:06 (6 years ago) Permalink

triumph of the overrated

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 13:47 (6 years ago) Permalink

"the conversation" is more sad than anything, look, here is a sad lonely man, he lapsed for one moment in his distrust of everyone around him and now he's worse off than he was to begin with. I prefer the bright everyman with a little curiosity finding out he is in fact more naive than he ever would have imagined, that's a far better theme.

and JR & th'Bs posting that just made me realize that L&LD IS in fact exactly in that vein, Bond thinks he knows what he's doing until it turns out all of the black people in America except for maybe two or three are working for Mr. Big against him, and then Mr. Big turns out to be Dr. Kananga in a bad Frank Lucas mask, and not only that but is this voodoo shit for real or what? Totally the creepiest Bond, too bad Roger Moore was in it.

El Tomboto, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 17:09 (6 years ago) Permalink

Too bad I didn't post it earlier, than L&LD might have gotten TWO votes.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 17:25 (6 years ago) Permalink

I can't stand Three Days of the Condor.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 17:32 (6 years ago) Permalink

"triumph of the overrated"

The Conversation can't be rated high enough IMO. Perfect movie.

Alex in SF, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 17:50 (6 years ago) Permalink

I don't think it's overrated, but it does drag.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 17:54 (6 years ago) Permalink

I prefer to think that it takes it's time, but that's kind of a hallmark of 70s cinema. All these movies drag compared to National Treasure ya know.

Alex in SF, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 17:57 (6 years ago) Permalink

Love The Conversation, and nice to see The Parallax View come in second place. Winter Kills wuz totally fucking robbed, though.

My favorite film of this type not on the list: Arthur Penn's Night Moves. Another great nihilist hero/anti-hero turn from Gene Hackman. Nowhere near as "perfect" a film as The Conversation, but a lot of 70s-style downbeat fun.

contenderizer, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 18:02 (6 years ago) Permalink

I prefer to think that it takes it's time, but that's kind of a hallmark of 70s cinema. All these movies drag compared to National Treasure ya know.

it was only a matter of time before someone made a boneheaded analogy.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 18:03 (6 years ago) Permalink

Hackman is superb. and it's well-edited and tense in places, but it's 10 minutes longer than it needs to be.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 18:04 (6 years ago) Permalink

Also: Altman's The Long Goodbye. Hell, why isn't Chinatown on the list?

contenderizer, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 18:07 (6 years ago) Permalink

Night Moves is good, but I'm not sure it fits as well with stuff (more noir, less conspiracy.) Could be an entirely separate poll for that stuff (Drowning Pool, Long Goodbye, Chinatown, et all.)

Alex in SF, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 18:09 (6 years ago) Permalink

The Long Goodbye's about as paranoid as Elliot Gould's cat. I love it to bits.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 18:10 (6 years ago) Permalink

I guess Night Moves, Long Goodbye and Chinatown all fit better into the "paranoid 70s noir detective" bin, but as long as we're considering stuff like Americathon...

contenderizer, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 18:14 (6 years ago) Permalink

Which 10 minutes would you cut, Alfred?

C0L1N B..., Tuesday, 20 May 2008 18:15 (6 years ago) Permalink

Andromeda Strain shoulda been an option

Conversation is great though. that whole "party" scene in Hackman's office is so weird.

dmr, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 19:15 (6 years ago) Permalink

i'd kill it if I had the chance

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 19:25 (6 years ago) Permalink

Which 10 minutes would you cut, Alfred?

That party scene dawdles, but I'm willing to listen to arguments that it's supposed to accurately represent what kind of ambiance a half dozen dorks would conjure.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 19:26 (6 years ago) Permalink

Andromeda Strain shoulda been an option

I thought about it, but left it out because it's more of an alien invasion movie than a political paranoid thriller. Besides, I already have two Michael Crichton movies in the poll (one by mistake) and Andromeda Strain was already in the 1970s SF poll.

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 19:35 (6 years ago) Permalink

I was Gene Hackman in The Conversation for Halloween one year, and played in a band called Andromeda Strain. But I voted for The China Syndrome.

Pete Scholtes, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 06:36 (6 years ago) Permalink

day of the jackal is so awesome. what else is similar?

Jordan, Thursday, 29 May 2008 21:31 (6 years ago) Permalink

and is the remake in any way worth watching?

Jordan, Thursday, 29 May 2008 21:33 (6 years ago) Permalink

getting a strange feeling that I really need to see Americathon again. the opening scene depicting everyone waking up in shantytowns of immobilized cars and several million people biking to work in LA has been stuck in my head recently

Milton Parker, Thursday, 29 May 2008 21:57 (6 years ago) Permalink

ebert on the remake:

There was never a moment in ``The Jackal'' where I had the slightest confidence in the expertise of the characters. The Jackal strikes me as the kind of overachiever who, assigned to kill a mosquito, would purchase contraband insecticides from Iraq and bring them into the United States by hot air balloon, distilling his drinking water from clouds and shooting birds for food.

Without giving away too much of the plot, I would like to register one dissent on the grounds of taste. There is a scene making a target out of a character clearly intended to be Hillary Rodham Clinton (hints: She is blond, 50ish, the wife of the president, and is dedicating the New Hope Children's Hospital). The next time Willis or Gere complains about the invasion of their privacy by the media, I hope someone remembers to ask them why their movie needed to show the first lady under fire.

Jordan, Thursday, 29 May 2008 22:22 (6 years ago) Permalink

5 months pass...

Watched The Conversation for the first time last night, and I'd forgotten that it won this poll.

Loved it, Hackman plays a lonely man charater so fucking well.

Ant Attack.. (Ste), Wednesday, 26 November 2008 13:17 (5 years ago) Permalink

How did Marathon Man not win this?

Nate Carson, Thursday, 27 November 2008 01:31 (5 years ago) Permalink

because there's a ton of awesome paranoia movies from the 1970s and a lot of them are even better than it?

El Tomboto, Thursday, 27 November 2008 01:33 (5 years ago) Permalink

I guess I have homework.

Nate Carson, Thursday, 27 November 2008 07:14 (5 years ago) Permalink

3 months pass...

Winter Kills wuz totally fucking robbed, though.

― contenderizer, Tuesday, May 20, 2008 6:02 PM (9 months ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 17 March 2009 22:10 (5 years ago) Permalink

Weird how in the early 70s, when all these themes were nascent, they seemed to define the age, but now that it's largely come to pass, it's mostly meh, privacy.

M.V., Tuesday, 17 March 2009 22:28 (5 years ago) Permalink

Spook Who Sat By the Door was recently re-released on DVD - just saw it for the first time a few weeks ago - it's a classic.

unexpected item in bagging area (sarahel), Tuesday, 17 March 2009 22:52 (5 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

15 conspiracy movies that don’t fall apart at the end (a very good list from the AV Club)

Stockhausen's Ekranoplan Quartet (Elvis Telecom), Tuesday, 8 March 2011 08:14 (3 years ago) Permalink

Sorry I missed this--some of my favourite films of the decade. 1. (more or less a tie) The Conversation and All the President's Men; 2. The China Syndrome; 3. Marathon Man; 4. The Boys from Brazil (total junk, I know); 5. The Parallax View. I don't know who deserves the most credit for these films: Nixon, Kennedy, or Johnson. (Or maybe Allen Dulles or somebody like that...of course, two are Nazi-related, so I won't pin those ones on them.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 March 2011 16:09 (3 years ago) Permalink

3 years pass...

Just finished mass watching all 12 episodes of Salamander
http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/feb/07/salamander-bbc4-belgian-thriller-bridge

Good show. Basically a straight-up Eurocrime police detective story, but worth your time if you're looking for secret societies, bank robbery, unfinished WWII business, and Belgian politics.

Elvis Telecom, Wednesday, 14 May 2014 09:06 (3 months ago) Permalink

sounds interesting, will check it out. Although I guess I'll have to wait for a rerun now.

Drop soap, not bombs (Ste), Wednesday, 14 May 2014 09:19 (3 months ago) Permalink

FWIW, the episodes were easily found in the corners of the Internet you would expect to find such things.

Elvis Telecom, Wednesday, 14 May 2014 09:47 (3 months ago) Permalink

2 weeks pass...

Saw "Blue Sunshine" at the ICA tonight; both plot and acting is erratic, but it is very interesting as a 60's kids growing into disillusioned 70's types film. The election campaign and gun store scene also give it a weird kinship with "Taxi Driver". Anyway, this is a good essay on the movie:

http://www.ica.org.uk/blog/jon-towlson-jeff-liebermans-blue-sunshine

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 29 May 2014 22:31 (2 months ago) Permalink


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