A mild mannered CIA researcher, paid to read books, returns from lunch to find all of his co-workers assassinated. "Condor" must find out who did this and get in from the cold before the hitmen get him.Written by
Mike CO <email@example.com>
First of two espionage films in six years with the word "Condor" in the title. The second was the spy spoof Condorman (1981) made and released in 1981. In that movie, when Woody (Michael Crawford) is glamorizing Harry's job at the CIA, Harry responds, "Not everyone in the CIA is Robert Redford." This is a subtle joke regarding Three Days of the Condor (1975) in which Redford plays a CIA agent whose codename is Condor. See more »
When Turner is given the report from Langley saying they found nothing to be concerned about in the book he read and reported on. Turner folds it and puts it in his right rear pocket. When he tries to remember the section chiefs name the morning after at Kathy's apartment, the morning the mailman comes, he retrieves it out of his left rear jeans pocket. See more »
Simmer against the machine...at the beginnings of a new kind of CIA genre
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
This is looking more and more like a period piece, dated and curious like one of those great Cold War films looks today (Failsafe or Seven Days in May). And yet it also feels like the beginnings of spy/counterspy films that are going on today, way beyond the pizazz of the early Bond films of the 1960s, and presaging the dozens since, including recent ones like the Bourne films or Syriana. It plays straight up as a suspense film, one where an almost innocent man is caught up in something huge and perplexing and awful, and we all identify with the individual against the powers of evil. Robert Redford plays the role of Joe Turner well, with the usual Redford stiffness, but believably--he reads books, after all--and sympathetically.
Putting yourself back to 1975 you have to remember that everyone was talking about, and reacting to, Watergate, and a U.S. president who had to resign from office because of it. Watergate, more than anything, started the current public roar (blossoming on the internet) about government conspiracy. Three Days of the Condor makes the government, and the CIA in particular, an almost unassailable and invisible force of spying and mistrust. Turner, by circumstance at first and then by admirable determination, fights back. He's clever as much as he is worried. He falls in love. He feels isolated but never gives up. He has close calls, and lucky escapes, and unlikely friends. He thinks of other people first.
In other words, he's a hero against the machine, and if the movie is sometimes slow, it creates a nice pace for the end, which is beautifully thought out. Director Sydney Pollack is hampered by a screenplay that alternates between awkward (Faye Dunaway's scenes) and brilliant (Redford's anti-spy character has a conversation with a hit man played by Max Von Sydow that shines), but he patches it together with an editing job that was nominated for an Oscar. And the cinematography by Owen Roizman is really nice (he shot a dozen great films from the French Connection to the Exorcist to Network). Condor is not just an entertainment, which is a saving grace, but it does also, slowly and beautifully, entertain.
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