March 31, 2014 Slideshows

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Ten Enduring Conspiracy Thrillers 

With the approaching release this week of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, many critics, including L.A. Weekly’s own Amy Nicholson, have noted the film’s similarities (starting with the obvious: Robert Redford) to the string of conspiracy thrillers that dominated American cinema during the 1970s. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of ten of the most enduring entries in the genre -- most of them coming from the ‘70s, but with a few early-‘80s holdouts added in for good measure. This is by no means an exclusive list, and more recent films like Roger Donaldson’s No Way Out (1987), Jacques Rivette’s Secret Defense (1998), Tony Scott’s Enemy of the State (1998), Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana (2005), and Redford’s own The Company You Keep (2012) speak to how well the genre has sustained itself over time. Words by Danny King.
"Klute (1971)

The first entry in director Alan J. Pakula's celebrated conspiracy/paranoia trilogy, this missing-person mystery, photographed by the great Gordon Willis, teams a small-town Pennsylvania detective (
"Chinatown (1974)

Much like a few later titles on this list, Roman Polanski's classic yarn, taken from a canonical Robert Towne screenplay, overlays elements of film noir with conspiratorial foreboding. Starring
"The Conversation (1974)

Starring Gene Hackman (who will appear again later on this list), and released the same year as The Godfather: Part II, this Francis Ford Coppola-directed exercise in audio surveil
"The Parallax View (1974)

Co-written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. (who passed away just last week), Alan J. Pakula's second crack at the conspiracy genre, again shot by Gordon Willis, tracks a Warren Beatty as a report
"Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Co-starring Winter Soldier's Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway, this Sydney Pollack film sports a killer hook: A diligent CIA researcher (Redford) returns from lunch to find
"Night Moves (1975)

Not to be confused with the forthcoming Kelly Reichardt film, this is actually one of director Arthur Penn's finest efforts, even though he's more often remembered for 1967's influential B
"All the President's Men (1976)

The third Pakula-Willis collaboration in the genre follows Washington Post journalists Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Redford) as they investigate the Wat
"Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977)

The final collaboration between director Robert Aldrich and star Burt Lancaster, this split-screen-heavy film is the only one they made together that wasn't a Western (the other
"Cutter's Way (1981)

Another selection suffering from a Vietnam hangover, director Ivan Passer's murder-mystery showcases phenomenal performances from its three main actors: John Heard, as a crippled, disillusio
"Blow Out (1981)

Itself influenced by the likes of Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 Blow-Up and Coppola's The Conversation, Brian De Palma's political thriller involves a jaded sound recordist (John T
1/10
"Klute (1971)

The first entry in director Alan J. Pakula's celebrated conspiracy/paranoia trilogy, this missing-person mystery, photographed by the great Gordon Willis, teams a small-town Pennsylvania detective (

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