Posted by: steveonfilm | April 14, 2010

Movie Review: Three Days of the Condor

Release Date: September 24, 1975

James Grady (novel “Six Days of the Condor”)
Lorenzo Semple Jr. (screenplay)
David Rayfiel (screenplay)

Director: Sydney Pollack

Robert Redford as Joseph Turner / The Condor
Faye Dunaway as Kathy Hale
Cliff Robertson as J. Higgins
Max von Sydow as G. Joubert

Academy Awards:

Best Film Editing

What if Jason Bourne didn’t know any cool moves, couldn’t shoot someone to save his life, and worked for the CIA as an analyst instead of an assassin? The answer to that question is the book “Six Days of the Condor” and the movie “Three Days of the Condor.”

I didn’t know much about this movie, other than my dad saying it was one of his favorites. I knew it was done in the 70s, starred Robert Redford, and, as my pops puts it, shows you can outsmart the bad guys without always needing a gun.

Seeing that my Netflix queue was a little low, I decided to stock up and “Three Days of the Condor” made the cut. And man, am I glad I did so.

This movie totally stands up today. There isn’t any 1970s cheese. It’s dead serious. Redford is at his best. And the story is just fast enough to keep you interested, but slow enough that they can have a lot of fun showing the main character, Condor, figure things out.

The gist of the story is this, Robert Redford plays Joseph Turner, aka The Condor, and is a CIA analyst working with a small team in New York. His team “reads” everything published, and look for clues, patterns, and basically intelligence hidden within the works, whether intentional or not. He heads out to grab lunch for everyone, and when he returns he finds his entire team murdered. Now he has to figure out why they’re dead, and stay safe from whomever is out to get him.

In the book the story places out over six days, the screenwriters had to close the gap a bit and shorten the time frame to three days. This was a smart move. Six days would have been too long. Three keeps things tight and tense. There aren’t any wasted days. We don’t have to sit through multiple tense nights. Any since the majority of the movie plays out in New York City, it’s contained in an area that’s easy to follow. It was kind of eerie seeing the twin towers still standing though.

I’m not going to go into the story too much, because I think a lot of the fun you have watching the film is trying to figure out who wants him dead and why. He literally runs into Faye Dunaway’s character, Kathy Hale, and forces her to help him. This leads to somewhat of a romance, but it’s left open, and isn’t a huge central piece of the story. Cliff Robertson is pretty solid as a CIA Director J. Higgins, and the always creepy Max von Sydow is rock solid as hitman G. Joubert.

If you’re a fan of mystery/thrillers, with a hint of detective work, this is the flick for you. If anything, it’s a neat way to see some of the other agents of the CIA do their jobs. Not everyone is a spy. A lot of the folks they employ are book worms. And as Condor says on the phone, “Damn it, I’m not a field agent! I barely know how to hold a gun.”

Until next time, keep writing!


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