Ten Enduring Conspiracy Thrillers

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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 (Donald Sutherland) with a New York prostitute (an Oscar-winning Jane Fonda). The film's obsession with audio -- the opening credits unspool over an image of an audiotape -- prefigures a number of the entries on this list.

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.

Published on March 31, 2014

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2 comments
jdavidsen1
jdavidsen1

Harry Caul is the best at what he does. All professionalism, no judgment, all technique, in over his head in the world of humans and human situations. 


One of the greats.

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