Movies That Don’t Suck: Poli Sci Thrills From The ’70s

What better time to get lost in a good political thriller and forget about the madness of the day!

Political thrillers ask their audience to suspend disbelief and for the duration of a movie try to believe that people can behave badly, really badly, out of pure self-serving self-interest by turning the cogs of the political system to their benefit while harming others. I know, sounds crazy but remember, these are just movies.

Executive Action (1973)

A fictionalized account of the assassination of JFK. Written by Dalton Trumbo, Mark Lane, and Donald Freed, and directed by David Miller, Executive Action stars Burt Lancaster and Robert Ryan as powerful men who take matters into their own hands to steer the course of US politics and power. The film opened to very mixed reviews and was pulled from theaters only weeks into its run.

The Parallax View (1974)

Warren Beatty is Joe Frady, a big city reporter who travels to small town Salmontail to investigate claims that a leading Senator was not killed by a lone gunman. A cover up or a conspiracy theory?

Three Days of the Condor (1974)

Robert Redford is Joe Turner, a bookish CIA loner whose job is to read books, newspapers, and magazines from around the world looking for hidden messages. After filing a report related to a science fiction novel, Turner, code name “Condor”, returns from his lunch run to the local deli to find that everyone in his office has been murdered. Turner goes on the run, running into Max Von Sydow and Faye Dunaway along the way.

Chinatown (1974)

Directed by Roman Polanski from a screenplay by Robert Towne, starring Jack Nicholson, John Huston, and Faye Dunaway, Chinatown is a stone cold classic. Evelyn Mulwray hires Nicholson, J. J. “Jake” Gittes, a sleazy private eye, to tail her husband Hollis Mulray,the engineer of the LA County water department, whom she believes is having an affair. But that wasn’t the real Evelyn Mulwray and Hollis turns up deader than a fish on dry land, only he drowned. Gittes can’t let go of the case and follows his nose, which he nearly loses, leading him to power, corruption, greed, and more. “See Mr. Gittis, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and right place they are capable of almost anything.” Yes, water is political.

The Omen (1976)

Everyone, even the devil, wants into politics — behind the scenes, Satan plots to have his offspring, Damien, in a position of great political power. Directed by Richard Donner, written by David Seltzer, and starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, and David Warner, bad things happen when good people get in Damien’s way. Why? The devil made them do it! “He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot,” the senator says. “You know how you make America great again? Tell Damien to go to hell!