Three Days of the Condor
|Three Days of the Condor|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sydney Pollack|
|Produced by||Dino De Laurentiis|
|Based on||Six Days of the Condor
by James Grady
|Music by||Dave Grusin|
|Edited by||Don Guidice
Fredric Steinkamp (sup)
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$41,509,797 (US)|
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. The screenplay by Lorenzo Semple, Jr. and David Rayfiel was adapted from the 1974 novel Six Days of the Condor by James Grady. The main point of variance from novel to film lies in the presentation of the CIA. In Grady's book, a rogue element within the Agency is motivated by drug-running greed. In the film, the same individuals act with equal ruthlessness to hide a project intended to protect long-term national interests.
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 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.
Joe Turner (Robert Redford) is a CIA analyst, code name "Condor". He works in a clandestine office in New York City, which fronts as the "American Literary Historical Society". Turner's task is to read 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 that Turner is expecting a response to his report, he is out shopping for staff lunches when armed men efficiently murder the six people still in the office. Returning to find his coworkers' bodies, a frightened Turner calls the CIA's New York headquarters, and is given instructions to meet his Head of Department (Wicks), who will bring him into safety. The rendezvous is however a trap. Wicks shoots an accompanying CIA staffer and attempts to kill Turner, who wounds his assailant before escaping himself.
Needing a place to hide, Turner forces a woman, Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway), whom he encounters by chance in a ski shop, to take him to her apartment in Brooklyn Heights. He holds her prisoner while he attempts to figure out what is going on. Hale begins to trust Turner and they become lovers. However, his hiding place is discovered by Joubert (Max von Sydow): a European contract killer who led the massacre of Turner's co-workers. Joubert spots Turner driving Hale's car and notes the license plate number. A hitman disguised as a mailman (Hank Garrett), with a parcel that requires a signature, arrives at the apartment and a fight ensues. Turner, although a bookish researcher, is able to kill his attacker through chance.
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 identifies Joubert as a skilled freelance assassin, who has previously undertaken contract work for the CIA. Back at his office, Higgins discovers that the "mailman" who attacked Turner in Hale's apartment worked with Joubert on a previous operation. Their CIA case officer on that occasion was Wicks.
Meanwhile, using a numbered hotel room key he found on the fake postman's body, Turner learns where Joubert is staying, then uses his skills as a former Army Signals Corps technician to trace a call that the expert makes from his hotel room. He then finds the name and address of the person Joubert called: Leonard Atwood (Addison Powell); CIA Deputy Director of Operations for the Middle East and apparently senior to Higgins. Turner confronts Atwood in his Chevy Chase mansion late at night and questions him at gunpoint. Turner learns that the report he had filed provided links to a secret plan to take over Middle Eastern oil fields. The planning "game" is later described as a rogue project initiated without formal approval from above. Fear of its disclosure was sufficient to have Atwood order the elimination of Turner's section, using the free-lance contract assassin Joubert (rather than from within CIA).
Joubert surprises them, takes away Turner's pistol, and then unexpectedly shoots Atwood. Atwood's own superiors have hired the professional to stage the suicide of someone who was about to become an embarrassment, overriding Atwood's original contract for Joubert to kill Turner. Joubert suggests that Turner leave the country, even becoming an assassin himself since Turner had shown such resourcefulness in staying alive. Turner rejects the suggestion, but seems to take seriously Joubert's warning that the CIA will still try to kill him. Joubert reflects how Turner's killing would likely be carried out - by a smiling and possibly trusted acquaintance stepping from a car.
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 that Americans will want the government to use any means necessary to save them from discomfort. Turner says he has given the press "a story" (they are standing outside The New York Times office), but Higgins questions Turner's reliance that the story will be printed. After a brief dialogue, an anxious Turner walks away to face an uncertain future as "a very lonely man". 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, on a crowded New York street.
- Robert Redford as Joseph Turner
- Faye Dunaway as Kathy Hale
- Cliff Robertson as J. Higgins
- Max von Sydow as G. Joubert
- John Houseman as Wabash
- Addison Powell as Leonard Atwood
- Walter McGinn as Sam Barber
- Tina Chen as Janice Chon (One of the six CIA analysts that were killed)
- Michael Kane as S.W. Wicks
- Don McHenry as Dr. Ferdinand Lappe (One of the six CIA analysts that were killed)
- Jess Osuna as The Major
- Dino Narizzano as Harold (One of the six CIA analysts that were killed)
- Helen Stenborg as Mrs. Edwina Russell (One of the six CIA analysts that were killed)
- Patrick Gorman as Martin (One of the six CIA analysts that were killed)
- Hansford Rowe as Jennings (One of the six CIA analysts that were killed)
- Lee Steele as Ralph Heidegger (Was the 7th CIA analyst who called in sick, and was killed in his home)
- Carlin Glynn as Mae Barber
- Hank Garrett as The Mailman
- Arthur French as Messenger
- Robert Phalen as Newberry
- Ed Setrakian as Customer
- Russell Johnson as Intelligence Officer
- Sal Schillizzi as Locksmith
Three Days of the Condor was filmed in various locations in New York City, New Jersey, and Washington DC, including the World Trade Center, 55 East 77th Street, NYC, The Ansonia, Central Park, and the National Mall.
The film earned $8,925,000 in theatrical showings in North America.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 86% of 43 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 Sydney Pollack's taut direction and excellent performances from Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway."
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. Variety called it a B movie that was given a big budget despite its lack of substance. 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."
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 [sic] 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 [sic] culture (or McLuhanesque mosaic), of large photo-, kino-, historicosynthesis [sic] machines, etc., rather than one of veritable films."
Some critics also described the film as a piece of political propaganda, as it was released soon after the "Family Jewels" scandal came to light in December 1974 which exposed a variety of CIA misconduct. 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 Family Jewels 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 an espionage thriller was a genre neither of them had previously explored.
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.
Awards and nominations
- Cartagena Film Festival: Golden India Catalina, Best Actor, Max von Sydow; 1976.
- David di Donatello Awards: Special David, Sydney Pollack, for the direction; 1976.
- Edgar Allan Poe Awards: Edgar; Best Motion Picture, Lorenzo Semple Jr. David Rayfiel; 1976.
- Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards: KCFCC Award; Best Supporting Actor, Max von Sydow; 1976.
- Motion Picture Sound Editors: Golden Reel Award; Best Sound Editing - Sound Effects; 1976.
- Academy Awards: Oscar; Film Editing, Fredric Steinkamp and Don Guidice; 1976.
- Cartagena Film Festival: Golden India Catalina; Best Film, Sydney Pollack; 1976.
- Golden Globe Awards: Golden Globe; Best Motion Picture Actress - Drama, Faye Dunaway; 1976.
- Grammy Awards: Grammy; Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special, Dave Grusin; 1977.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills; 2001
Panning and scanning
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.
|Three Days of the Condor|
|Soundtrack album by Dave Grusin|
DRG (2004 reissue)
All music by Dave Grusin, except where noted.
- "Condor! (Theme from 3 Days of the Condor)" 3:35
- "Yellow Panic" 2:15
- "Flight of the Condor" 2:25
- "We'll Bring You Home" 2:24
- "Out to Lunch" 2:00
- "Goodbye for Kathy (Love Theme from 3 Days of the Condor)" (2:16
- "I've Got You Where I Want You" 3:12 (Grusin/Bahler; sung by Jim Gilstrap)
- "Flashback to Terror" 2:24
- "Sing Along with the C.I.A." 1:34
- "Spies of a Feather, Flocking Together (Love Theme from 3 Days of the Condor)" 1:55
- "Silver Bells" 2:37 (Livingstone / Evans; Vocal: Marti McCall)
- "Medley: a) Condor! (Theme) / b) I've Got You Where I Want You" 1:57
- Joubert's musings on how Turner would be killed are reprised almost word-for-word in the Seinfeld episode "The Junk Mail." The speech is used as a warning from Newman to Kramer about how the U.S. Postal Service will retaliate for Kramer's refusal to receive his mail.
- In Out of Sight, Jack Foley (George Clooney) and Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez) discuss the film's romantic subplot, which Sisco describes as dubious.
- The film was an influence on the 2014 superhero film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in which Robert Redford also starred.
In March 2015, Skydance Productions announced that it is planning to remake Three Days of the Condor as a television series.
- "Three Days of the Condor". The Numbers. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
- "Three Days of the Condor (1975)". The New York Times. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
- "Three Days of the Condor". On the Set of New York. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
- Sydney Pollack (director) (1999). Three Days of the Condor (DVD). Los Angeles: Paramount.
- "All-time Film Rental Champs", Variety, 7 January 1976 p 44
- "Three Days of the Condor (1975)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- Canby, Vincent (September 25, 1975). "Three Days of the Condor (1975)". The New York Times. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
- "Review: 'Three Days of the Condor'". Variety. 1975. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
- Ebert, Roger (1975). "Three Days of the Condor". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
- 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.
- McGilligan, Patrick (1976). "Hollywood uncovers the CIA". Jump Cut (10–11). Retrieved December 24, 2013.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills Nominees
- 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.
- "Skydance Productions Developing 'Three Days of the Condor' Remake for TV (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 11 March 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
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