Three Days of the Condor

"Very Good"

Three Days of the Condor Review


In Sydney Pollack's strange spy thriller Three Days of the Condor, Robert Redford plays a playful and somewhat geeky analyst for the C.I.A. He spends his days reading books, journals, and any manner of written correspondence that is published or publicly available, searching for codes, keywords, and country names to cross-reference with Langley. He has a code name, Condor, which he has no particular use for until the day he returns from a lunch run to find his entire department murdered. Suddenly, he is on the lam, indulging in ramshackle espionage plots and rubbing elbows with foreign assassins. He's not a spy but he plays one pretty well.

Unlike the Condor, the viewer may only pick up the salient points. There's a smattering of names for several chiefs and directors: Wicks, Wabash, Atwood, Higgins, etc. Even the switchboard operator is given the title "The Major." There's a woman, Catherine Hale (Faye Dunaway), whom the Condor takes hostage and quickly embarks on a semi-romantic partnership with. When he's not busy connecting the dots, the Condor is being hunted by a tall gun-for-hire with a foreign accent given the codename Joubert (the indefatigable Max Von Sydow) and another assassin named simply The Mailman. It doesn't seem to matter much but, for what it's worth, it all seems to have something to do with a possible war in the Middle East and oil.

As a thriller, Three Days only works in spurts but it gains in momentum as it goes, giving the eerie calm of its two concluding scenes a lingering paranoia. There are some very good scenes, even riveting ones, where Pollack builds magnificent tension out of space and silence in Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Rayfiel's lively script. One great moment: Condor and Joubert meeting in an elevator that stops at every floor. There's also that completely unexpected moment when Catherine refers to herself as a "spyfucker."

In form, Pollack has parked himself somewhere between Louise Malle and late-period Hitchcock. The composer Dave Grusin (The Friends of Eddie Coyle, The Front) adds a lot of bopping horns and scattered percussion to the score, giving it a jazzy stride. But the film doesn't feel jazzy: There's a calculated feeling to Pollack and cinematographer Owen Roizman's lensing that feels at odds with the film's noise. Whereas the story and performances are often nimble and rousing, the filmmaking feels careful, even cautious.

Of course, this "wronged hero" role is the sort of thing Redford could knock out during an afternoon nap, but then there's Dunaway, playing notes of perversion, guilt and curiosity that would go unnoticed in lesser hands. There's Von Sydow reconstructing the idea of the steely government assassin into something with ethics and logic, twisted as they may be. He's deeply human, just not the human we know. Even John Houseman shows up as an aging juggernaut of the company.

Redford's interactions with the assassins and agencies are staged nicely and for complete nonsense, it's really quite entertaining. What grounds the film and provides it with its own rhythm is Condor's relationship with Catherine, with all the nervous moments and impossible promises that come with it. Catherine has an estranged lover waiting for her in Vermont and she wants things to work out with him, even if he sounds like a heavy sentimentalist. But what can she do: There's a spy who needs lovin' in her apartment.

Aka 3 Days of the Condor.



Three Days of the Condor

Facts and Figures

Run time: 117 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 24th September 1975

Box Office Worldwide: $27.5M

Distributed by: Paramount Home Video

Production compaines: Dino De Laurentiis Company, Paramount Pictures, Tom Ward Enterprises, Wildwood Enterprises

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 32 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Stanley Schneider

Starring: as Joseph Turner, as Kathy Hale, as J. Higgins, as G. Joubert, as Mr. Wabash, Addison Powell as Leonard Atwood, as Sam Barber, as Janice Chon

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.