Three Days of the Condor (1975)

three days of the condor poster robert redford faye dunaway
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Strong political thriller

Romance, plot sometimes gets lost

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Three Days of the Condor

Studio:  Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  September 24, 1975

MPAA Rating:  R

three days of the condor robert redford alley scene

I’m just a book reader!

Joe Turner (Robert Redford) is a member of a small branch of the CIA based in New York City and dedicated to the examination of books and writings from all around the world which might contain secret codes or messages.  When Joe is out for lunch, a group led by assassin Joubert (Max von Sydow) kills Joe’s entire team.  Now, Joe is on the run and doesn’t know who his friends or enemies are.  Taking a photographer named Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway) as his hostage, Joe must uncover what led to his team’s murder and if he can even trust his superiors led by Higgins (Cliff Robertson) or if it could be part of a greater trap.

Directed by Sydney Pollack, Three Days of the Condor (often written as 3 Days of the Condor) is a spy thriller.  The movie adapts the 1974 novel Six Days of the Condor by James Grady.  It was relatively well received by critics and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film Editing.

three days of the condor max von sydow robert redford elevator scene

Nothing is more awkward than an elevator ride…especially when the other passenger is a hired assassin out to kill you

Three Days of the Condor feels like the start of a different type of spy thriller.  While movies like Hitchcock often put spies within the government, Three Days of the Condor has the government being the evil spy.  The movie easily could be credited for films that came after like The Bourne Identity and others.

The story for Three Days of the Condor really does resemble The Bourne Identity (the novel of which was published in 1980).  You have Joe Turner who is reasonably unsure of himself and his spy abilities facing off against a corrupt government agency that he is seen as a threat to.  Along the way he picks up a girl (by force) and starts a romance.  While almost identical in development, The Bourne Identity’s romance seems to work much better…here, it seems forced and below the general tense plot.

three days of the condor robert redford faye dunaway romance

I feel like we should sleep together for some vague reason…let’s just say Patty Hearst…

The film’s political plotline is often compared to what the United States was going through at the time.  People didn’t trust the government, and Nixon had just stepped down.  Government = Enemy and the movie milks this idea (in a good way).

Redford also is rather charming like always.  He is believable both as a bookish guy and someone who could be a spy.  I like Max von Sydow’s cold mercenary and Cliff Robertson also plays a good corporate man who does what is best for himself (at the commands of John Houseman).  I feel due to the storyline that Faye Dunaway’s character feels a bit shoehorned into the plot and that the romance is a bit more tacky than romantic (neither characters comes off particularly great in it).

three days of the condor ending cliff robertson robert redford

My mop hair is bigger than your mop hair!

Visually the movie is a lot of fun.  It is fast and edgy.  It has that dirty, gritty ’70s feels and it is a fun look at New York City in the ’70s.  The relatively newly constructed World Trade Center plays an important role in the movie as the base of Cliff Robertson’s office.

Three Days of the Condor is a good film.  It could be better, but for the most part it is solid, tense, and I like that movie ends on a potentially down and dirty note.  There has been talk of remaking the film or potentially turning it into a series.  Though I think some aspects could be cleaned up, I wish that they would just leave it alone.  The Condor doesn’t need to fly again.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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