Monday, 26 November 2012

Three Days of the Condor

Three Days of the Condor was a successful 1975 thriller movie, which I saw when it first came out in my long ago student days. I enjoyed it very much at that time, and wondered how it would stand up to a second viewing in 2012, especially as the techno-thriller aspects of the story-line have inevitably been overtaken by time. The answer was that it remains very watchable indeed, a real credit to the excellent director, the late Sydney Pollack, many of whose films I've enjoyed.

The story is based on the debut novel of James Grady (someone I've never read); the book is called Six Days of the Condor. The cast is superb, with Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway as glamorous leads, and Max Von  Sydow as a suitably enigmatic assassin. John Houseman plays a minor part as a senior CIA man with his customary gusto.

The set-up is terrific. Redford is a nerdy researcher at a strange kind of library in New York, and just because he pops out of a basement exit to avoid the rain while getting a quick bite to eat, he is lucky enough to escape an attack by a group of gunmen who burst into his workplace and mow down everyone there. Within minutes, Redford is on the run. It turns out that he is in fact a researcher for the CIA. But one of his superiors seeks to lure him into a fatal trap. It seems he can trust no-one.

He therefore kidnaps Faye Dunaway in an attempt to get away - a very good choice of victim, not least because they fall for each other, and she helps him to fight back against those who are out to kill him. We move into fairly standard conspiracy thriller territory, but the pace is well maintained, and although I had some reservations about the later scenes,and the assassin's behaviour, the ending is pleasingly ambiguous.Good entertainment.


Anonymous said...

Martin - Oh, I remember this film! I remember liking it too, and I'm glad it's still held up for you.

Christos G. Makrypoulias said...

Martin - You certainly have a talent for bringing back memories! Although it's been ages since I first saw it (on TV as a very young teenager back in the early 1980s), I vividly recall the words of Cliff Robertson explaining the reasons behind the whole CIA operation: the US trying to take control of the oilfields of the Middle East. That part of the film (in the book the reason is given as the CIA importing heroine from Laos or something) was right on the money (no pun intended): "prophetic" doesn't even begin to describe it!

Anonymous said...

I watched this film a few years ago and really liked the movie overall but I did find the dialogue in the relationship between Redford and Dunnaway to be a bit unrealistic. Still overall, a really good film.

Ray Kolb