Total Recall: Our Favorite Conspiracies

The truth is, uh, out there.

Ah, conspiracy theories -- they're as American as mom and apple pie. Our fascination with shadowy sects and secret, nefarious schemes has inspired countless books, television shows, and, yes, movies -- and in honor of the long-awaited arrival of the conspiracy-rich X-Files: I Want to Believe, we've compiled a like-minded list for this week's Total Recall.

So, what's your favorite brand of conspiracy? Government manipulation of the press? The military-industrial complex? Secret surveillance? Aliens? Assassinations? How about the Freemasons? We've got 'em all -- and more. Put on your tinfoil hats and draw the shades, and follow us down the dark (but oh so entertaining) trail of conspiracies at the movies.


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Assassinations!


Exhibit A: JFK (1991, 83 percent on the Tomatometer)

Oliver Stone had been making movies for years before JFK was released in 1991, but for better or worse, it's the film that many filmgoers will always think of when they hear the director's name. And for good reason: Stone's 189-minute dissertation reinforced our deep national fondness for conspiracy theories, building a case against the Warren Report's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he assassinated John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Critics responded to the screenplay and a cast stacked with famous faces (Kevin Costner, Sissy Spacek, Kevin Bacon, Joe Pesci, Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, and John Candy, to name just a few), while everyone else did what they always do with a good Oliver Stone movie: argue about it. The film's historical accuracy was hotly debated, insults were hurled, and all the while, it kept making money, finally topping out over $200 million in worldwide box office. Well played, Mr. Stone.

Exhibits B and C: The Day of the Jackal, Arlington Road









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Brainwashing!


Exhibit A: The Parallax View (1974, 91 percent)

If the movies are any indication, the 1970s were a time of widespread paranoia. Art imitates life, after all, and Watergate was grist for many a filmmaker's mill -- the idea that our government was engaged in dark machinations was brought to the fore in the Nixon era. The Parallax View is loaded with conspiracies: reporter Joe Frady (Warren Beatty) is present when a presidential candidate is assassinated at the Space Needle in Seattle, and discovers that other witnesses to the slaying have been murdered. After some digging, Frady obtains evidence that the sinister Parallax Corporation may be behind the murders, and is recruiting (and subsequently brainwashing) individuals to carry out further assassinations. Cynical and haunting, The Parallax View is an apt summary of the paranoid ethos of 1970s thriller filmmaking.

Exhibits B and C: The Manchurian Candidate, Conspiracy Theory




Comments

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

JFk best on the list, MIB was cool. I hope X Files 2 is good, but from things I hear I am dissapointed its not going to deal with paranormal activites or government conspiricies which were really the best epsiodes. I hope theres an X Files 3 that deals with conspiracies and the paranormal. Ill still see it Friday even if I hear it sucks, and Step Bros I'll see that Friday too.

Jul 23 - 06:47 PM

Adam Sanders

Adam Sanders

A more comprehensive list of "Conspiracy" movies is at this link:

http://www.redicecreations.com/movies.html

Jul 23 - 09:16 PM

RT-Matchity

Matt Atchity

Hey Adam,

Thanks for the input, although I have to point out that there are some movies on that list that aren't really conspiracy movies (i.e. Terminator? Barton Fink? Legend?) And they're missing some biggies like Seven Days in May, The President's Analyst, etc. Granted, we're not trying to be comprehensive - we're just listing some standard conspiracy theories, and some movies that illustrate them.

Jul 24 - 10:23 AM

zach_baum

Zach Baum

Where Is all the presidents men

Jul 23 - 11:59 PM

reapermad

Ryan Kelley

There must be a conspiracy as to why Michael Bay is still making movie.

Jul 24 - 09:41 AM

RT-Matchity

Matt Atchity

Hey Adam,

Thanks for the input, although I have to point out that there are some movies on that list that aren't really conspiracy movies (i.e. Terminator? Barton Fink? Legend?) And they're missing some biggies like Seven Days in May, The President's Analyst, etc. Granted, we're not trying to be comprehensive - we're just listing some standard conspiracy theories, and some movies that illustrate them.

Jul 24 - 10:23 AM

CCR

John Fogerty

Is it politically incorrect to mention movies with religious conspiracies, in particular involving the Catholic Church? The Da Vinci Code, Name of the Rose, and Stigmata are a few I remember.

Jul 24 - 01:11 PM

reapermad

Ryan Kelley

Who cares if it's politically incorrect! Those are all conspiracy movies. I love The Name of the Rose, though Stigmata is junk and the Da Vinci Code was merely hype. But, good call.

Jul 24 - 03:21 PM

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