The Essential 1970s Conspiracy Thrillers

From Executive Action to Cutter's Way


I have an article up at io9 listing 10 essential 1970s conspiracy thrillers. From the opening:

Techno-paranoia has become the norm in our post-Snowden world, and hit shows like Person of Interest play on our fears of being watched. But the high-tech conspiracy tale has its roots in the 1970s, which saw a great wave of movies about assassins, surveillance, secret governments, and corporate cabals. The result was a decade's worth of paranoid thrillers, many of them extremely entertaining….

Between the Watergate scandal and a series of ugly revelations about the CIA, the FBI, and other federal agencies, the public was more receptive to stories where the country's leaders were the villains. And with the rise of the so-called New Hollywood, a younger, more countercultural group of filmmakers was ready to deliver them.

These aren't the best '70s conspiracy thrillers—a couple of them aren't all that good, though they're worth watching for other reasons. They're just the essential ones: necessary stops on any extended tour of the genre.

The article is pegged to my book The United States of Paranoia, which discusses most of these movies and much else besides. It's been a while since I last posted a roundup of United States of Paranoia coverage, so here's a few of the highlights from the last month or two:

• The Chicago Tribune included it in its list of 2013's best books.

Boing Boing's podcast You Are Not So Smart interviewed me about it.

• Ed Driscoll invoked it while discussing how "Beltway and Northeast Corridor elites have plenty of conspiracy theories of their own."

• Arthur Goldwag, who had already posted one review of the book on his personal blog, published another article about it in The Washington Spectator. If you read the piece, be sure to check the comments, where I take issue with how he interpreted a part of the text.