Anthony and Joe Russo, the directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, have said in interviews that they were heavily inspired by the conspiracy theory films of the 70’s. Which makes perfect sense considering what happens in The Winter Soldier with S.H.I.E.L.D and Hydra. They must have been thrilled when Robert Redford came on board.
So, after watching The Winter Soldier I binged on some brilliant conspiracy based films. The best ones were made back in the late 60’s and 70’s. During the 50’s and throughout the 60’s more and more people in America were becoming politically aware and with Watergate, the Vietnam war,assassinations and the cold war people were disillusioned with their government.
This disillusionment gave rise to paranoia and conspiracy theories and of course this crossed over into the art of the time; writers, filmmakers and musicians began to address these issues in their chosen field. The public loved it and thus the conspiracy thriller was born.
I love a good conspiracy therory and here is a list of some of my favourite conspiracy thrillers.These are listed in no particular order.
Angela Lansbury is a badass. Dont believe me? Watch The Manchurian Candidate.
She gives one of her best performances as the cold, ruthless mother of Raymond Shaw. Raymond is in the army and has been awarded the Medal of Honour and the men he served with describe him as “the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” But something is wrong.
It’s an outstanding film covering themes of brainwashing, communism, assassinations and more.
Think we didn’t go to the moon in 1969? Then Capricorn One is for you!
It stars James Brolin,Sam Waterston and O.J. Simpson as astronauts who are talked into faking the Mars landing after it’s discovered that something faulty in the rocket would kill them if they tried to make the trip to Mars.
Elliott Gould plays a journalist called Robert Caulfield who is friends with a NASA employee. This friend notices that something is amiss with the Mars trip and alerts his superior. He mentions this to Gould and a few days later not only has his friend disappeared but all trace of him has been erased. This sets Caulfield on a dangerous mission to discover what’s going on.
This film is excellent, everyone gives a great performance and it has one of the best helicopter chase scenes you’ll ever see.
I discovered Coma via a colleague of my husband who recommended it to us. I loved it. A young Michael Douglas and Geneviève Bujold are the two leads and directed by Michael Crichton. Yes, that Michael Crichton. Bujold plays a surgical resident who notices that a number of ordinary surgical procedures are resulting with patients in comas. She starts to investigate, she doesn’t know who to trust, can she trust her boyfriend played by Michael Douglas?
Its rare to find a conspiracy thriller that has a female lead and Bujold is great; gutsy and curious.
Robert Redford is CIA agent Joe Turner whose code name is Condor. He works in a research office in New York. One day he goes out for lunch only to return to his office and find all his co-workers dead. Realising he’s in danger Turner calls CIA headquarters for help, they set up a meeting which turns out to be a trap. Who can he trust?
The Parallax View is considered the second installment of director Alan Pakula’s Political Paranoia trilogy. The first being Klute (1971) and the third film All The President’s Men (1976).
Warren Beatty is newspaper reporter Joe Frady who investigates an assassination and ends up in over his head. The Parallax View stands out partly due to the cinematography, its been said this film is like an acid trip. It’s certainly a feast for the senses.
Here is a list of conspiracy thrillers that are decent but didn’t make the list. The China Syndrome, Conspiracy Theory ,Extreme Measures, Jacobs Ladder and JFK.
Do you like Conspiracy thrillers? Klute is on my ‘To Watch’ list but what would you recommend?