10 Underrated Political Thrillers of the 1970s Worth Revisiting
Cunning plots and under-the-radar thrillers.
Don't make a mistake of thinking the 1970s happened way too long ago and can't be relevant.
1. "The Domino Principle" (1977)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 14%
A conspiracy-laden ride begins when Tucker, a man serving a long prison sentence, is mysteriously offered his freedom by a secretive organization. The catch? He has to assassinate someone. With no love lost for his captors and a burning desire to reunite with his wife, Tucker accepts. But who's the target?
The plot thickens faster than concrete as Tucker digs deeper, finding himself a pawn in a game much bigger than he imagined.
2. "Winter Kills" (1979)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
The labyrinthine tale revolves around Nick Kegan, brother of an assassinated U.S. President, who stumbles upon new evidence that thrusts him into the depths of his brother's unresolved murder. This rabbit hole is more like a snake pit, lined with eccentric billionaires, Cuban hitmen, and even a Hollywood madam.
Every clue Nick uncovers pulls the rug out further under him, revealing a family entangled in a global conspiracy. The more Nick knows, the less he understands, and trust is as scarce as an honest politician.
3. "The Next Man" (1976)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 13%
Khalil Abdul-Muhsen is an Arab diplomat who's got a target on his back the size of his oil reserves. Why? He wants peace, and peace is bad for the business of war. As he starts his campaign at the United Nations for a controversial Middle East peace plan, assassins start lining up like it's a Black Friday sale.
Enter a beautiful and enigmatic security advisor who's either his guardian angel or his worst nightmare. Love and bullets are a dangerous mix, and as the conspiracy unfolds, Khalil realizes that his revolutionary ideas might lead to a dead end – literally.
4. "The Mackintosh Man" (1973)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 58%
Joseph Rearden takes on the identity of an Australian criminal and lets himself get caught passing counterfeit checks to infiltrate a prison and connect with a supposed Soviet spy ring. It's all British stiff upper lip until the breakout, where Rearden finds himself caught in a spy cyclone that spans from London to the cliffs of Malta.
The stakes are higher than the Queen's hat at Royal Ascot, and Rearden's cool facade begins to crumble as he can't tell friend from foe.
5. "Ransom" (a.k.a. "The Terrorists" 1975)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 50%
A Scandinavian flight is hijacked, but that's just the appetizer. The main course is an ambassador being held captive. The demands? Release their leader, or the ambassador gets it. Enter Nils Tahlvik, the security chief who's got the charisma of Bond without the gadgets. He's all business and is willing to play dirty.
There's more tension here than in a room full of bomb diffusers, and with a ticking clock, Tahlvik must outsmart the terrorists, who seem to be one step ahead.
6. "Three Days of the Condor" (1975)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%
Joe Turner is just an analyst for the CIA, a bookish type who reads everything and finds the secret messages hidden in publications from around the world. One rainy return from lunch, he finds all his colleagues murdered. On the run and out of his depth, Turner kidnaps a random civilian, Kathy, for cover.
His life becomes a paranoid sprint from shadow to shadow, not knowing whom to trust. With only his wits and some unexpected help from Kathy, Turner unravels a conspiracy that goes to the very top.
7. "The Parallax View" (1974)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%
Reporter Joe Frady is a magnet for trouble and a skeptic of the official line. When a senator is assassinated, the investigation is quickly wrapped up. But when witnesses start dying, Frady gets the itch only a mystery can scratch. He discovers The Parallax Corporation, a company that's in the business of recruitment and training of assassins.
The deeper he digs, the more he feels like he's trying to solve a Rubik's cube in the dark.
8. "Executive Action" (1973)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 60%
The assassination of a U.S. president is the kind of event that screams 'plot', and "Executive Action" takes this idea and runs with it. A group of shadowy elites, discontent with the current administration's policies, plots the unthinkable.
Using a recruitment and training process that's chilling in its efficiency, they plan to change the course of history from behind closed curtains.
9. "The Day of the Jackal" (1973)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
The French government is in a pickle – there's a notorious assassin, codenamed 'The Jackal', hired to kill Charles de Gaulle, the President of France.
The Jackal is a ghost, the best at what he does, and he's got a plan as precise as a Swiss watch. On the other side, you have the tenacious French detective Lebel, who must piece together this lethal puzzle before the history books are rewritten. The chase zigzags across Europe, with Lebel always a step behind.
10. "State of Siege" (1972)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 71%
In an unnamed South American country, American official Philip Michael Santore is kidnapped by a group of urban guerrillas. The guerrillas want to negotiate the release of political prisoners, but the U.S. government isn't in the habit of making such deals. Santore is put on trial for his life by the kidnappers, as the country's internal politics boil to the surface.
Santore's fate swings in the balance, with every conversation potentially being his last.