Keeping close company in the news with the Trump Tax Cut and its Raging Bull Market after-effects is the largely Deep State-propelled, never-ending “Russiagate,” the Steele Dossier, the FISA wiretapping imbroglio and how one of the largest covert operations in the history of forever (the F.B.I.) can’t explain why some embarrassing, politically-biased, pillow talk emails suddenly went missing. Oops!
There will never be a shortage of fascinating and captivating real-life conspiracies taking place in Washington’s corridors of power. Every once in a blue moon, Hollywood manages to craft a gripping and engaging conspiracy-theory movie that for the most part, largely avoids partisan finger-pointing and mirrors the wild times in which we live. These are my favorite top 10 politically-based conspiracy films:
- “The Manchurian Candidate” — This 1962 Cold War thriller starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, and a truly evil Angela Lansbury was light years ahead of its time. Upon returning home, a brainwashed Korean War vet is programmed to assassinate the political rival of his step-father. Do not under any circumstances confuse this masterpiece with the embarrassing 2004 remake.
- “Syriana” — Writer/director Stephen Gaghan’s multi-layered drama included multiple sub-plots and dozens of principal characters examining the dark connection between oil and power. George Clooney won his sole acting Oscar for playing a man based on real-life spy/writer Robert Baer.
- “Wag The Dog” — In this wicked black comedy Robert de Niro (as a wry spin doctor) and Dustin Hoffman (as a film producer) successfully divert the country’s attention away from the report of a U.S. president seeking re-election accused of inappropriate behavior involving a preteen female.
- “Three Days of the Condor” — Robert Redford plays a C.I.A. researcher who goes on the run after everyone is his New York office is murdered while he is (literally) out to lunch. Cliff Robertson and Max von Sydow co-star as possible friends/foes, each quite adept at nebulous double-speak.
- “Enemy of the State” — In the late director Tony Scott’s 1998 ahead-of-the-curve espionage action thriller, Will Smith plays a D.C. labor lawyer who by mere chance becomes involved in the cover-up of the murder of a congressman (Jason Robards) at odds with a paranoid spook (Jon Voight). Gene Hackman co-stars as a former black ops NSA data analyst unwittingly drawn into the fray.
- “Seven Days in May” — After the president (Frederic March) signs a treaty with the Russians, a pair of high-ranking military honchos (Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas) hatch a plan for a coup while taking control of all media outlets. Quite unique as it was made in 1964 but set in the ‘70s.
- “JFK” — This polarizing and mesmerizing epic — the mother of all conspiracy flicks — covers every detail (and then some) of the (first) Kennedy assassination. When called to task regarding the provable truth content in the film, director Oliver Stone wisely quipped “it’s not a documentary.”
- “Blow Out” — In one of director Brian DePalma’s finest efforts John Travolta plays a movie sound effects expert who hears a car crash that results in the death of a politician. After coming across a video of the same event, he — and the call girl in the car (Nancy Allen) — become severe liabilities.
- “All the President’s Men” — From late director Alan J. Pakula, Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) become the most famous newspaper writers in history for uncovering the darkest hour in the history of the U.S. presidency.
- “The Parallax View” — Another masterpiece from Pakula. Three years after the assassination of a (potential presidential candidate) congressman and the subsequent deaths of many witnesses, a jaded reporter (Warren Beatty) stumbles upon a shady corporation recruiting future assassins.
Here are five more worthy titles not exactly fitting in fully with the political conspiracy sub-genre but are certainly entertaining and well worth your time: “Bullworth,” “Capricorn One,” “The Good Shepherd,” “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (the 1956 version, not the one from 1934) and “Marathon Man.”
Originally from Washington, D.C., Michael Clark has written for over 30 local and national media outlets and is currently the only newspaper-based film critic providing original content in the Atlanta Top 10 media marketplace and he recently co-founded the Atlanta Film Critics Circle. Over the last two decades, Mr. Clark has written over 3,500 movie reviews and film related articles for the Gwinnett Daily Post and is one of the scant few conservative-minded U.S. critics. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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