Jan 4, 2008
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
Despite how many times this has been on television over the years, it was only this Friday night that I finally saw this superb paranoia thriller, based on James Grady's novel "Six Days of the Condor". Robert Redford is Joseph Turner, a book researcher for the CIA who returns from lunch to find everyone in his incognito office shot to death, and then spends the rest of the film avoiding being another on the hit list, and also trying to find out why they're being eliminated.
Made in the aftermath of Watergate, this film likely struck a chord with audiences in its inherent theme of corrupt government, as Turner doesn't know who to trust, as he's on the hit list by someone up the echelon of the CIA. (As such, the film is equally timely in these days of "It's not about oil... honest!".) This nail-biter makes superb use of New York City locations... the normally benign everyday settings have an undercurrent of danger, as death could await around any corner.
Perhaps is sole flaw is when, after Turner kidnaps Faye Dunaway and hides out at her apartment, the obvious romantic entanglement ensues. This love scene is ironically the most far-fetched in a fantastic tale of government deception. It doesn't work, despite how sympathetic Dunaway's character is to his plight.
Max Von Sydow is a terrific villain- beautifully cast as the calm hitman who coolly pursues Turner throughout the film. The suspense remains high right to the end, because it is only in the final scene where Turner truly gets a semblance of why he is being hunted.
Director Sydney Pollack delivers a superb suspense film (all the more terrifying in its low-key approach, anticipating his later film, Absence of Malice?)-- my favourite sequence is the brilliantly edited fight with the "delivery man".