Three Days of the Condor (1975)

  • Time: 117 min
  • Genre: Mystery | Thriller
  • Director: Sydney Pollack
  • Cast: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson


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.

One comment

  • There was once a time that paranoid thrillers such as Sydney Pollack’s magnificent Three Days of the Condor would have seemed like the mad ramblings of an extreme lefty. The government were not made up of powerful men with our best interests at heart, but a bunch of powerful men plotting, scheming and murdering their way to further themselves or whatever organisation-within-an-organisation they were working for. After the Watergate scandal, such cynicism didn’t seem so out-there. It inspired a wave of great films, some of the finest in American history, with director Sydney Pollack and actor Robert Redford very much at the forefront.

    Here Redford plays Joseph Turner, a CIA bookworm tasked with reading everything – books, newspapers, magazines – in the search for hidden codes and revolutionary ideas, operating from a small office with a close assortment of colleagues. After he pops out for lunch one day, he returns to find all of his co-workers murdered, and is plunged into a world of deep paranoia. When he seeks protection from the ‘Company’, he is almost murdered as he meets the man he thinks is bringing him in. With no-one to turn to, he kidnaps an artist named Kathy (Faye Dunaway) at gunpoint and shacks up with her, gradually bringing her to his side as his situation becomes utterly desperate.

    Turner, now lumped with the knowledge that he can trust nobody, is forced to re-evaluate everything he knows about how his employees operate. The CIA are summed up in the film by two characters – the seemingly emotionless killer Joubert (Max von Sydow) and slick-talking suit Higgins (Cliff Robertson). It’s a terrifying thought to think that someone may be listening to every phone call or reporting your whereabouts, and that every time there’s a knock at the door it may be the delivery man with a machine-gun. It is Joubert’s chilling monologue towards the end of the film that really speaks volumes about the men Turner is fleeing from. Pollack’s direction is tight and clinical, effortlessly building suspense through Redford’s increasingly rugged performance. An exciting, intelligent thriller from the greatest period in American cinema.

    Rating: 4/5

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