I first saw this suspense/spy thriller when it was first released in the theaters sometime in the late 1970s, while living in London and working for the American government. There's nothing that compares with the paranoia associated with seeing a taut spy thriller, only to exit the theater into a cold, foggy late evening in downtown London. The picture it paints of a murderous renegade network operating within the Central Intelligence Agency is both frightening and plausible, and is delivered by Robert Redford with the terrific direction of Sidney Pollack and his production team in a tight, well-developed tale with a convincing thread of interconnecting events that spins way out of control as the protagonist tries desperately to figure out who is at the center of the plot and why he and his cohorts at a special studies institute sponsored by the Agency are targets.
For me, this movie is a nonstop roller-coaster ride, with Redford trying in vain to jump off the damn thing before it crashes below! The level of paranoia as well as the multiple levels of deceit and deception depicted in the film seemed a bit outlandish at the time, but given the temper of the times, it somehow seemed much more plausible in the backwash of Watergate and all that was revealed about the machinations of the so-called "invisible government" then. The hero's ability to parse together the facts and learn and adapt as he progresses makes the movie work especially well, and one can relate to his growing frustration as he realizes there just may not be any way out alive. And between the margins of the scenes lie some intriguing questions regarding the role of secrecy in an open and supposedly democratic society that add a measure of intellectual acumen and "gravitas" to the tale.
So popular was this movie at the box office that it spawned a number of other spy thrillers in its wake. The film's cast included not only Redford as the hero, but also starred Fay Dunaway, and Cliff Robertson. This movie makes for an absorbing evening of entertainment, and a surefire way to escape the humdrum of everyday life with a stunning tale of murder, mayhem, and betrayal. I highly recommend this flick. Enjoy!
on January 9, 2002
What is it about this movie that makes it so compelling? After countless viewings, I still can't put my finger on it -- but let's consider the crucial elements of "Condor."
First, the paucity of dialogue -- in other words, what Redford displays and emotes rather than says -- is powerful. It seems that for the first time in his career, Redford is really challenged to act instead of being just another pretty cinematic face. If ever a man could give the impression of being both haunted and hunted, Redford's a cinch in "Condor."
This is also a great New York City film. Its streets, back alleys, and buildings -- in particular, the World Trade Center -- all play supporting roles. Sidney Pollack makes good use of the then-newly finished twin towers in "Condor," and this viewer lamented their destruction after watching scenes featuring the main lobby and a top-floor office inhabited by CIA deputy director Cliff Robertson.
The grainy quality of the film, matched with an often funky, sometimes melancholy soundtrack scored by Dave Grusin, also adds to the aura of "Condor." It's as if Pollack attempted to do an American sendup of a French intrigue film. Grusin's music also is not what you'd expect in a spy film, in that it has not a hint of the James Bond sound. Then again, the film is not a romantic spy thriller, so it works.
In fact, Pollack and Redford successfuly convey a post-Watergate paranoia that the citizens' government is 'out there' and will stop at nothing to hunt down the truth-seeking rogue. Phone taps and plumbers (disguised, this time, as mailmen) abound. Suitably, "Three Days of the Condor" ends with a very anti-establishment message.
This film deserves to be placed in the list of top twenty great American films of the modern cinematic era (however one judges that). "Condor" is good the first time around and seems to be more enjoyable with subsequent viewings. Far from being a period piece, it stands the test of time as a thriller that is also thoughtful.
on December 29, 1999
THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR is one of the finest espionage thrillers ever filmed. But it's not just entertaining. The script is thought-provoking and reflects fears and paranoias that still pervade our country's consciousness today. Robert Redford has never been better. His character is a refreshing hero who succeeds using his brain, not his brawn or some ridiculous firepower. There are so many great supporting performances as well, including Cliff Robertson, John Houseman and Faye Dunaway (who looks simply gorgeous). Max VonSydow plays the ultimate assasin for hire, equalled only by Edward Fox's turn in THE DAY OF THE JACKAL. The film's editing is perfect and the music score (by Dave Grusin) still sounds great, (quite a feat since the music from many films of this period sound terribly dated). All in all, I consider this possibly the best example of a domestic (versus international) espionage thriller and faultless in all aspects of production. The final freeze-frame shot is a stunner.
on September 24, 2000
I first saw this movie when it was released in 1975. I was seven years old and it had me on the edge of my seat. Twenty - five years later it still moves along. It's aged very easily. Redford does an excellent job as a man who has no experience, or training, as a field operative. All he has going for him is his intelligence and the fact that he reads spy novels and murder mysteries for a living.He makes mistakes, but he also makes several brilliant moves that a sesoned operative would never consider, which is one reason why he survives. His actions seem believable. He's an ordinary man having to cope with an extraordinary situation. Max von Sydow and Cliff Robertson are also very good and though it is a small part John Houseman shines as one of the grand old men of the CIA. Though the technology has aged, as well as some of the field techniques ,much of it is still very relevant as is the motivation for wiping out Condor's entire department. It actually is a nice little twist when the truth is revealed. This is truely a classic espionge thriller. Though I enjoy the Bond movies 3 Days of the Condor belongs under the realistic category.In my opinion it leaves Tom Clancy and Jack Ryan in the dirt.
In Nov. 1975, "Three Days of the Condor", a suspenseful conspiracy thriller based on the novel by James Grady (titled "Six Days of the Condor) was adapted to film and directed by Sydney Pollack ("Sabrina" (1995), "The Firm", "The Way We Were") and a screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr. ("King Kong", "Flash Gordon", "Sheena", etc.) and David Rayfiel was released in theaters.
The film which received positive reviews by critics was nominated for a 1976 Academy Award for "Film Editing" and also a winner of multiple awards.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR" is a 1975 film that is featured for the first time in 1080p High Definition on Blu-ray. Because the film was created in 1975, the film quality does show a bit of age but the transfer is actually better in picture quality that some 1990's and early-2000 films that I have seen on High Definition.
The film does showcase a few dust but there are a number of dark scenes and a few compression artifacts were detect but again, for a film over 34-years old, the colors were strong, blacks were good and overall, a very good transfer of the film to Blu-ray.
As for audio, the film is featured in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (and also French Mono). Truth be told, this is a front channel, dialogue driven film. If there was use of any bass, it's that old 70's bass picking style that was popular at the time that utilizes the bass. As for the action sequences, the gunshots and everything else seems quite bland but I was not expecting thrilling audio directionals to come from all speaker channels with this film, so I found the audio satisfactory for a film this old.
Subtitles are featured in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.
"3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR" has only one special feature and that is the original theatrical trailer with scratches and dust galore. The trailer is in HD but it would have been nice to have someone do a commentary or revisit this film especially how relevant it is in today's modern world.
"3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR" is a very good conspiracy thriller. What is quite shocking about this film which was released in 1975 is how it actually predicts the government's involvement in future affairs. I don't want to go into too much into the film without spoiling it but I will say that what Turner is able to find out, it's what's happening in today's modern world, especially with the United States.
What is also a bit numbing to see is the few shots of the Twin Towers and the film featuring the two buildings not long after they were built.
Robert Redford's performance was fine but there were some lines that almost echoed a John Wayne style of acting which was acceptable around that time but for today's modern viewers, it may not hold up.
Stars that did shine in this film were Faye Dunaway, who did a great job playing the role of Kathy Hale. As a captive hostage turned woman who is willing to aid her abductor, this was a film that seems to utilize "Stockholm Syndrome" and not surprising considering that the Patty Hearst-SLA bank robberies in real life happened in 1974 or perhaps its a woman who agrees to help Joe Turner because both share a side of sadness and loneliness in their life.
Max von Sydow as the assassin Joubert is also quite effective in his role, especially during the big reveal near the end of the film.
In reviewing this Blu-ray release, although a few artifacts and dust are seen on the video quality, this is probably the best transfer we will get of the film. The audio quality is uninspiring but considering this is not a modern film which we come to expect full utilization of audio channels, "3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR" is quite clear in dialogue and for a 1975 film, taking all things into consideration, this is a pretty good transfer on Blu-ray ala HD.
My main peeve with this Blu-ray release is that a film with so much relevance for today's modern world, it would have been wonderful to have interviews with the stars or having some sort of special feature included other than the trailer.
The film is a well-written, well-edited and captivating thriller with a storyline that I don't know if Sydney Pollack or even novel writer James Grady knew how relevant it would be over 30 years later.
Overall, "3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR" is definitely an action-thriller classic definitely worth recommending!
Film has very problematic picture and sound quality on Blu-Ray. It's a great 70s era "conspiracy" film, and very slow and talky in the Sydney Pollack way, that appears rather quaint and naive considering what we have learned about the way the world works since then.
The source transfer for "3 Days of the Condor" has obviously not been re-done for Blu-Ray, and appears to be the same source transfer used for the much older DVD edition of this film. Although the superior medium and capabilities of a 1080p Blu-Ray disc make this an upgraded way to view this material, the limitations of an aging source transfer abound and call attention to themselves. Detail is good in well lit scenes, much less so on indirectly lit surfaces and shadows. Blacks are unstable, noisy and milky. Skin tone and texture show the waxy effect of DNR (digital noise reduction). Much of the "grain" appears to be tele-cine noise, much more than the actual grain in the original material. The sound is mediocre. All in all a better view than the DVD version. But only worth renting, or if it can be purchased used or on mark down at $10 or less. A fine film. But this Blu-Ray edition is certainly not worth $20.
Since September 11th two years ago, most of us are probably more willing to believe that there can be evil (albeit unseen) forces active within our society which can suddenly result in death and destruction. What sets this film apart from most others in its genre is the introduction of a guileless central character (Joe Turner played by Robert Redford) who seems to pose no threat to anyone and yet he becomes involved in a deadly situation which neither he nor we understand. Director Sydney Pollack was perhaps influenced by Alfred Hitchcock who, in so many of his own films, subjects an innocent person to undefined but nonetheless nerve-chilling terror. After obtaining take-out lunches for himself and his associates, Turner returns to their small office in Manhattan and finds all of them dead. What happened? Who did it? Why? The situation is complicated by the fact that he and they are employed by the C.I.A. There is no indication that their research has any special significance. Security precautions for their office seem perfunctory. Turner flees the scene, later meeting with his supervisor Higgins (Cliff Robertson). After someone attempts to kill Turner, he again calls Higgins who urges him to "come in." By now, Turner correctly senses that he is in great danger but from whom? Why? What to do? He also realizes that he can no longer trust anyone, including Higgins. Still in flight, he (his code name "Condor") enlists the reluctant assistance of a stranger named Kathy (Faye Dunaway) who becomes his only ally. Enough about the plot.
Based on James Grady's novel Six Days of the Condor, this is one of several films from the 1970s which portray distrust of institutional authority because of various assassinations, the Viet Nam War, and Watergate. However, it is important to keep in mind that Joe Turner is not a major political or religious leader; rather, he is a relatively insignificant research analyst in a relatively insignificant C.I.A. field office. For me, the key point is that literally anyone anywhere can be selected for elimination at any time. Worse yet, we won't know who's involved, much less why. Redford delivers a solid performance as Turner, the focal point throughout the film. As for Dunaway, she does what she can with Kathy, not much of a part. Of special note is the work of Max von Sydow (as Joubert) and John Houseman (as Wabash). Theirs is a cold-blooded professionalism which views people merely as "assets" to accumulate or liquidate per orders from unidentified authorities. This is not the best of the political thrillers but it does portray some thought-provoking situations which still seem relevant 28 years later.
on May 19, 2004
In his 1979 novel "Shibumi" (part political thriller, part cynical attack on Western civilization and part satire of the thriller genre), written at the end of that genre's possibly greatest decade, Trevanian explains the six parts of the Japanese board game symbolizing the concept of effortless perfection and inspiring that novel's title: Fuseki (the opening stage or strategic premise), Sabaki (an effort to quickly, efficiently terminate a problematic situation), Seki (a neutral standoff where neither side gains an advantage), Uttegae (a potentially sacrificial strategic maneuver), Shicho (a running offensive) and Tsuru no Sugomori (literally, "the confinement of the cranes to their nest:" the elegant capture of the opponent's stones).
Like other books published then and influenced by the shocking Watergate revelations, "Shibumi" asks what happens if government is hijacked by a secret association not bound by anything but its own interests and hunger for power. One of the most important novels on whose legacy Trevanian builds in his book is James Grady's "Six Days of the Condor," adapted for the screen by director Sydney Pollack in this hugely successful fourth (of seven) collaboration(s) with Robert Redford; costarring Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow and Cliff Robertson. But while Grady's novel centered around the Vietnam trauma, the movie's screenplay, besides shortening the critical time frame from six days to three, changes the focus to the era's obsession with oil; thus effortlessly proving one of the story's key points: Assuming a group of insiders truly managed to commandeer key governmental structures, the respective substantive context would be of little import, because *any* such action would constitute a terminal violation of public trust, and the consequences for any individual caught in the resulting web of intrigue and deceit would be equally disastrous.
"Three Days of the Condor" begins with the assassination of virtually the entire staff of a New York CIA office of "reader researchers," agents responsible for the detection of possible clues to actual or potential Agency operations in literature. The massacre's sole survivor is Joe Turner, codenamed "Condor" (Redford), who literally happened to be out to lunch when the assassins hit. After his discovery of the bloodbath, his superiors promise to bring him "home," using his inside friend Sam as a confidence-builder. But at the assigned meeting Sam is shot, too, and Turner himself only escapes by the skin of his teeth - again. Realizing that his own organization is somehow involved in the hit and that he is no longer safe in his own apartment, Turner hides in the home of photographer Kathy Hale (Dunaway), whom he takes hostage, but who is a loner like him and eventually develops a fondness for him, agreeing to help him trying to discover the truth behind the terrifying labyrinth of lies and double standards in which he suddenly finds himself.
While "Condor"'s tale does have a clear premise (the interests of those responsible for the massacre) and both the mass-assassination and the following events are merely moves in the lethal game into which Turner is thrown against his will (and where his greatest advantage is his unpredictability), against the overbearing opponent he faces, he alone has little chances of emerging victoriously; of, in the terminology of Shibumi, "confining the cranes to their nest:" All he can hope for is a long-lasting state of Seki; a standoff and perhaps temporary ceasefire (a conclusion later also reached in John Grisham's bestselling "The Firm"). The inference, of course, is that it takes more than a single individual's discovery of a government-undermining conspiracy to take down the conspirators - and as in Watergate, the press is seen as a crucial vehicle for reaching a mass audience and taking the events out of the perpetrators' control.
Due to the universality of its theme, the importance of "Condor" far exceeds the story's 1970s context. Indeed, it is as relevant now as it was then; and so is the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Woodward-Bernstein account on Watergate and its corresponding movie ("All the President's Men;" also starring Redford, alongside Dustin Hoffman and Jason Robards). But this is also a magnificently filmed movie, sharply edited and using New York City's wintry urban landscape for full dramatic effect. Robert Redford gives a career-defining, tightly controlled performance as cornered bookworm-turned-spy Joe Turner, matched in every respect by Max von Sydow's hired assassin Joubert, who has no cause of his own, finds his occupation "quite restful," never concerns himself with his missions' "why" but only the "when," "where" and "how much," and paints delicate little figurines in his hours of relaxation. Faye Dunaway's Kathy is not merely another victim of Stockholm syndrome (a hostage's identification with their captors' motives); she truly comes to understand Turner because of their likeness: Her photos are expressions of her loneliness as much as Joe's solitary stance against an entire governmental organization; beautiful but sad November pictures of empty streets, fields and park benches, shot in black and white and an intricate, subtle metaphor even during their love scene. Cliff Robertson's CIA man Higgins finally is the perfect foil for both Turner and Joubert; not as far along in his career as he should be but, although sympathetic to Turner's plight, fully buying into the legitimacy of the Agency's "games" and ready to do whatever it takes to keep an embarrassment from becoming conspicuous.
Turner's and Higgins's last meeting is poignantly set against a Salvation Army choir's performance of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and its chorus "Oh tidings of comfort and joy;" ending in a still shot of Turner's face starkly reminiscent of Kathy's photos. Yet, "Condor's" story is open-ended: What would he do, were he still around today?
"What is it with you people - do you think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?" Joe Turner, "Three Days of the Condor."
"All ... organizations in this book lack any basis in reality - although some of them do not realize that." Trevanian, "Shibumi."
Six Days of the Condor
Spy Game (Widescreen Edition)
Sneakers (Collector's Edition)
All the President's Men (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Shibumi: A Novel
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Day of the Jackal
The Fist of God
The first 15 minutes of this movie is one of the great film set-ups about murderous, paranoid governmental machinations. Joe Turner (Robert Redford) is a bookish researcher for a CIA front called The American Literary Historical Society It's a rainy New York day. We see Joe, a good guy, maybe a little naive, chat about his job of reading all sorts of material and having it fed into CIA computers to look for code opportunities. We meet the elderly, acerbic but good-natured woman at the front desk and the middle-aged guard in the hall. We see the obvious affection between Joe and the young woman who works on the second floor with the computers. Since it's raining, Joe volunteers to get lunch. He takes their orders, runs out the back way in the rain and through a couple of alleys to a lunch diner. When he comes back 20 minutes later, everyone has been gunned down. We see it happen. We see a tall, middle-aged man with an umbrella pause in the rain by a car. We see a postman carrying a large mail bag walking down the street. We see a fellow wearing a rain-slicked poncho turn a corner. We see Joe's associates methodically and quickly killed. "Would you move from the window, please?" asks the tall man when he enters the computer room. The young woman is puzzled for a moment but then sees the gun the second man is pointing at her. "I won't scream," she says. "I know," he tells her, with just a little sadness. He turns away while she's shot.
Joe Turner, distraught and afraid, calls CIA headquarters to report what happened and to ask for help. Now code-named Condor, he quickly finds himself being hunted. He realizes that it may be the CIA itself that wants him dead, or it might be some sort of rogue operation within the CIA. Either way, it appears more people want him out of the way than alive and safe. He kidnaps a young woman (Faye Dunaway) who eventually agrees to help him. He finds out who the assassin is, a man called Joubert (Max von Sydow). He learns not to trust the CIA manager, Higgins (Cliff Robertson), who supposedly is trying to help him. Joe Turner realizes that even the so-called good guys aren't to be believed. "Boy, what is it with you people?" he says to Higgins. "You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?"
Before long, Joe Turner has had to change from a bookish academic to a resourceful action figure. Eventually Joe Turner figures out most of what has happened. When he encounters Joubert face-to-face in the elegant home of a senior CIA executive, he figures out the rest. Joe Turner was right to be paranoid. The conclusion is hopeful but not assured.
I think the movie works so well for two reasons. The first is the sheer Hollywood professionalism of the film. Director Sydney Pollack knows his way about a movie; he knows how to keep things moving, how to build character; how to develop tension and atmosphere...in other words, how to hook us and keep us hooked. Robert Redford is one of the quintessential Hollywood star actors. He's good at acting, and he carries real star power. Through some magic of personality and charisma, his transition from smart, easy-going researcher to resourceful action lead is believable, in part because even as an action lead Redford's Joe Turner doesn't pretend to be anything other than still puzzled. Faye Dunaway is another star performer who, in this role, punches above her character's weight. The only times the movie slows down is during the scenes between Redford and Dunaway. Her part is really little more than a contrivance. It's a credit to both that we can get past this without too much impatience.
The second reason the movie works so well is, I think, because of Max von Sydow. He plays Joubert, the assassin for hire, with a surprising amount of near nobility. Joubert is a completely practical killer, but one who thinks and, occasionally, permits himself a bit of introspection and empathy for some of his victims. "Well, the fact is," he says at one point to Joe, "what I do is not a bad occupation. Someone is always willing to pay." "I would find it... tiring," Turner says. "Oh, no...it's quite restful," Joubert tells him. "It's almost peaceful. No need to believe in either side, or any side. There is no cause. There's only yourself. The belief is in your own precision." Von Sydow is so subtle and accomplished an actor that he can convey a range of emotion with just a slight inflection of voice or the slightest change in expression. In a way, von Sydow's Joubert has come to respect Joe Turner, and even gives him some sincere advice. At the end of the movie he offers a ride to Turner. "I'd like to go back to New York," Turner says. "You have not much future there," Joubert tells him. He pauses for a moment, thinking about what he is about to say. "It will happen this way. You may be walking. Maybe the first sunny day of the spring. And a car will slow beside you, and a door will open, and someone you know, maybe even trust, will get out of the car. And he will smile, a becoming smile. But he will leave open the door of the car and offer to give you a lift." Pollack and Redford give Three Days of the Condor a great deal of energy and interest. I think von Sydow gives it a surprising amount of depth and quality.
The DVD is bare bones. The transfer looks very good.
on January 14, 2015
3 Days of the Condor Blu ray: Let me start by saying that the Blu ray picture and sound quality is fantastic. I normally worry about Blu ray movies from 1970s and 80s as my experience tells me that sometimes production companies simply copy the standard DVD onto a Blu ray disc which results in poor picture quality (ok, so the pixels are 1290 to 1080 but this doesn't necessarily mean great picture quality). I was very pleased with 3 Days of the Condor picture and sound quality.
The movie: I remember seeing this long time ago in my 20s but I was surprised to notice how similar the plot is to Bourne Identity. I am not kidding, this movie and Bourne Identity could have been put together in a double-feature disc. I am not sure which novel was written first but similarities are eerie. In both movies, there is a secret service agent being pursued by his own people and at the same time trying to figure out a mystery regarding his own organization. In both movies, he kidnaps a woman with whom he later develops a romantic connection. Probably the biggest difference is that Bourne begins with an amnesia not remembering his own identity. Aside from that, both movies are very similar. But they are both unique in their own way.
I definitely recommend this movie to anybody who is interested in spy thrillers; this is one of the best examples of the genre. It doesn't have the same pace and action sequences as Bourne movies, but the story, the characters, they all hold up pretty well. I also enjoy seeing Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway in their best (Faye Dunaway also starred in Network, which is one of my favorite movies from that time, and Robert Redford in All President's Men, another great movie). Another interesting thing, I noticed, is all the shots of the world trade center. It is a great nostalgia and somehow sad at the same time to see the world trade center in the 70s