Three Days of the Condor

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Three Days of the Condor
Three Days of the Condor poster.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySydney Pollack
Produced byDino De Laurentiis
Screenplay by
Based onSix Days of the Condor 
by James Grady
Starring
Music byDave Grusin
CinematographyOwen Roizman
Edited byDon Guidice
Production
company
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
  • September 24, 1975 (1975-09-24) (USA)
Running time118 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$41,509,797 (US)[1]
 
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Three Days of the Condor
Three Days of the Condor poster.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySydney Pollack
Produced byDino De Laurentiis
Screenplay by
Based onSix Days of the Condor 
by James Grady
Starring
Music byDave Grusin
CinematographyOwen Roizman
Edited byDon Guidice
Production
company
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
  • September 24, 1975 (1975-09-24) (USA)
Running time118 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$41,509,797 (US)[1]

Three Days of the Condor (stylized on the poster art as 3 Days of the Condor) is a 1975 American political thriller film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, and Max von Sydow.[2] The screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Rayfiel was adapted from the 1974 novel Six Days of the Condor by James Grady.[2] Set mainly in New York City and Washington, D.C., the film is about a bookish CIA researcher who comes back from lunch, discovers all his co-workers shot dead, and tries to outwit those responsible until he figures out whom he can really trust. The film addresses the moral ambiguity of the actions of elements within the United States government during the early 1970s. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing. Semple and Rayfiel received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Motion Picture Screenplay.[2]

Plot[edit]

Joe Turner (Robert Redford) is a CIA employee (Condor is his code name) who works in a clandestine office in New York City. He reads books, newspapers, and magazines from around the world, looking for hidden meanings and new ideas. As part of his duties, Turner files a report to CIA headquarters on a low-quality thriller novel his office has been reading, pointing out strange plot elements therein, and the unusual assortment of languages into which the book has been translated.

On the day in which Turner expects a response to his report, a group of armed men, led by an Alsatian assassin later identified as Joubert (Max von Sydow), murders the six people in the office. Turner escapes death because at the moment of the incursion, he was out of the office getting lunch. Realizing he is in danger when he returns to the office and discovers his coworkers' bodies, Turner calls the CIA's New York headquarters, and is given instructions to meet some agents who will take care of him. The meeting, however, is a trap, and Turner escapes an attempt to kill him.

Needing a place to hide, Turner forces a woman, Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway), whom he sees randomly in a ski shop, to take him to her apartment in Brooklyn Heights. He holds her prisoner while he attempts to figure out what's going on. Over time, Hale begins to trust Turner and they become lovers. However, his hiding place is discovered after Joubert spots him driving her car and notes the license plate number. A hitman, disguised as a postman with a parcel that must be signed for, shows up at the apartment. Turner opens the door and a fight ensues. Turner kills the hitman.

Deciding that he cannot trust anyone within the CIA, Turner begins to play a cat-and-mouse game with Higgins (Cliff Robertson), deputy director of the CIA's New York division. With the help of Hale, Turner abducts Higgins, who reveals through questioning that the killer was a Frenchman named Joubert.

Higgins discovers that the postman who attacked Turner in Hale's apartment was a former U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant and CIA operative who had collaborated with Joubert on a previous operation. That operation's mastermind, however, is revealed to be Leonard Atwood (Addison Powell), the CIA Deputy Director of Operations and Higgins' superior.

Meanwhile, using material he found on the fake postman's body, Turner finds where Joubert is staying, then uses his skills as a former telephone lineman to trace a call Joubert makes from his hotel room. He then finds the name and address of the person Joubert called: Atwood. Turner confronts Atwood at his home late at night and questions him at gunpoint. Turner learns that the report he had filed had uncovered a secret plan to take over Middle Eastern oil fields, setting in motion the deaths of all of his section's members.

Joubert surprises them, takes away Turner's pistol, and unexpectedly kills Atwood. The contract has now changed: even though Atwood had hired Joubert to terminate Turner before, Atwood's superiors have now hired Joubert to terminate Atwood. Turner is dumbfounded, realizing that Joubert and he are on the same side, working once again for the CIA. Joubert is disarmingly courteous, suggesting that Turner leave the country, even become an assassin himself since Turner had shown such resourcefulness in staying alive. Turner rejects the suggestions, but seems to take seriously Joubert's warning that the CIA will still try to kill him. Joubert even muses aloud on how Turner's killing would likely be carried out.

Turner goes back to New York City and meets Higgins on a busy street. Higgins defends the oil fields plan, claiming that there will be a day in which oil shortages will cause a major economic crisis for the country. And when that day comes, Americans will want the government to use any means necessary to obtain the oil. Turner says he has told the press "a story" (they are standing outside The New York Times office), but Higgins questions Turner's assurances that the story will be printed. After a brief dialogue, an anxious Turner walks away. The final shot is a freeze frame of Turner passing behind a Salvation Army band singing Christmas carols, while looking over his shoulder toward the camera.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Filming locations[edit]

Three Days of the Condor was filmed in various locations in New York City, New Jersey, and Washington DC, including the World Trade Center, The Ansonia, Central Park, and the National Mall.[3][4]

Soundtrack[edit]

Three Days of the Condor
Soundtrack album by Dave Grusin
Released10 August 2004
LabelDRG Records

All music by Dave Grusin, except where noted.

  1. "Condor! (Theme from 3 Days of the Condor)" 3:35
  2. "Yellow Panic" 2:15
  3. "Flight of the Condor" 2:25
  4. "We'll Bring You Home" 2:24
  5. "Out to Lunch" 2:00
  6. "Goodbye for Kathy (Love Theme from 3 Days of the Condor)" (2:16
  7. "I've Got You Where I Want You" 3:12 (Grusin/Bahler; sung by Jim Gilstrap)
  8. "Flashback to Terror" 2:24
  9. "Sing Along with the C.I.A." 1:34
  10. "Spies of a Feather, Flocking Together (Love Theme from 3 Days of the Condor" 1:55
  11. "Silver Bells" 2:37 (Livingstone / Evans; Vocal: Marti McCall)
  12. "Medley: a) Condor! (Theme) / b) I've Got You Where I Want You" 1:57

Critical response[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 86% of 37 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review, and the average rating was 7.1/10; the site's consensus is: "This post-Watergate thriller captures the paranoid tenor of the times, thanks to Syndey Pollack's taut direction and excellent performances from Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway."[5]

When first released, the film was reviewed positively by critic Vincent Canby, who wrote that the film "is no match for stories in your local newspaper", but it benefits from good acting and directing.[6] Variety called it a B movie that was given a big budget despite its lack of substance.[7] Roger Ebert wrote, "Three Days of the Condor is a well-made thriller, tense and involving, and the scary thing, in these months after Watergate, is that it's all too believable."[8]

French philosopher Jean Baudrillard makes mention of the film as an example of a new genre of "retro cinema" in his essay on history in the now foundational text, Simulacra and Simulation (1981):

In the 'real' as in cinema, there was history but there isn't any anymore. Today, the history that is 'given back' to us (precisely because it was taken from us) has no more of a relation to a 'historical real' than neofiguration in painting does to the classical figuration of the real...All, but not only, those historical films whose very perfection is disquieting: Chinatown, Three Days of the Condor, Barry Lyndon, 1900, All the President's Men, etc. One has the impression of it being a question of perfect remakes, of extraordinary montages that emerge more from a combinatory culture (or McLuhanesque mosaic), of large photo-, kino-, historicosynthesis machines, etc., rather than one of veritable films."[9]

The film was also described as a piece of political propaganda by some critics, as it was released soon after the "Family Jewels" scandal came to light in December 1974. However, in an interview with Jump Cut, Pollack explained that the film was written solely to be a spy thriller and that production on the film was nearly over by the time the revelations were made, so even if they had wanted to take advantage of them, it was far too late in the filmmaking process to do so. Despite both Pollack and Redford being well-known political liberals, they were only interested in making the film because it was a genre neither of them had previously explored.[10]

I didn't want this picture to be judged; it’s a movie. I intended it always as a movie. I never had any pretensions about the picture and it’s making me very angry that I'm getting pretensions stuck on me like tails on a donkey. If I wanted to be pretentious, I'd take the CIA seal and advertise this movie and really take advantage of the headlines. Central Intelligence Agency, United States of America, Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway. And don't think it wasn't suggested—obviously, that’s what advertising people do. We really put our foot down—Redford and I—to absolutely stop that.[10]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Wins
Nominations

Panning and scanning[edit]

In 1997, The Association of Danish Film Directors, on behalf of Pollack, sued Danmarks Radio, claiming that their broadcasting the film in a panned and scanned version violated his copyright. The case was unsuccessful, as the rights were not owned by Pollack personally in the first place. The case is believed to have been the first legal challenge to the practice of panning and scanning for broadcast on the grounds that it compromises the artistic integrity of an original film.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Three Days of the Condor". The Numbers. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Three Days of the Condor (1975)". The New York Times. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Three Days of the Condor". On the Set of New York. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ Sydney Pollack (director) (1999). Three Days of the Condor (DVD). Los Angeles: Paramount. 
  5. ^ "Three Days of the Condor (1975)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 1, 2014. 
  6. ^ Canby, Vincent (September 25, 1975). "Three Days of the Condor (1975)". The New York Times. Retrieved February 29, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Review: 'Three Days of the Condor'". Variety. 1975. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (1975). "Three Days of the Condor". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  9. ^ Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser. University of Michigan Press, 1994, p. 45. French original, Simulacres et Simulation, published by Éditions Galilée in 1981.
  10. ^ a b McGilligan, Patrick (1976). "Hollywood uncovers the CIA". Jump Cut (10–11). Retrieved December 24, 2013. 
  11. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills Nominees
  12. ^ Morton Jacobsen, 'Copyright on Trial in Denmark', Image Technology, vol. 79, no. 5 (May 1997), pp. 16-20, and no. 6 (June 1997), pp. 22-24.

External links[edit]