Three Days of the Condor [DVD]
Screenplay : Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Rayfiel (based on the novel "Six Days of the Condor" by James Grady)
MPAA Rating : R
Year of Release : 1975
Stars : Robert Redford (Joe Turner), Faye Dunaway (Kathy Hale), Cliff Robertson (Higgins), Max von Sydow (Joubert), John Houseman (Mr. Wabash), Addison Powell (Atwood), Walter McGinn (Barber), Tina Chen (Janice), Michael Kane (Wicks)
"Three Days of the Condor" is a product of its time, a movie that is almost perfect in its crystallization of all the post-Watergate fears and paranoia about high-ranking members of the government. That it ends on a down note, with the hero alive but the state of honesty in the government still in question, is indicative of the general mood of the country in the years following Nixon's resignation.
Robert Redford stars as Joe Turner, code-named Condor, a low-level CIA worker whose job is reading books and looking for plots that resemble actual CIA intelligence work. After Turner inadvertently discovers a renegade faction of spies within the CIA itself, his entire office is gunned down by a group of hit-men led by Joubert (Max von Sydow), a killer-for-hire whose loyalty resides with whomever is paying his fee.
Turner flees the scene (he was conveniently out to lunch), but finds that he can trust no one. He ends up kidnapping a lonely photographer named Kathy (Faye Dunaway), who becomes both his reluctant assistant in unraveling the mystery and his one-night lover (the questionability of Dunaway falling for Redford was highlighted a few summers ago in "Out of Sight," when George Clooney's bank robber asked Jennifer Lopez's federal agent whether or not she bought the romance between them).
"Three Days of the Condor" was directed by Sydney Pollack ("Tootise," "Out of Africa"), and it shows that action thrillers are not his forte. The movie is certainly competent, but it's not particularly memorable either. It's a fascinating cultural artifact in its reflection of post-Nixonian government paranoia, but it doesn't make the most of its potential. As a leading man, Redford has never been quite so one-dimensional. He never really plays a character; he's simply a victim with whom we can sympathize. Essentially, Redford is the stand-in for every average Joe who feels that the government is too big and powerful and can do whatever it wants.
The screenplay, written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Rayfiel from the novel "Six by James Grady, has its moments. The exchanges between Redford and the government cronies have a certain amount of zing, although the scenes with Redford and Dunaway are surprisingly drab, considering the combined potential intensity of those two red-hot actors.
Perhaps it is because Dunaway was given such a depressing character to play--a lonely woman who takes desolate photographs of empty streets and leafless trees and is engaged to a distant man. She is likely meant to be the flower waiting to bloom, and Redford is the man who will give her a chance to shine, but it never quite comes through. Much like the rest of the film, the potential is there, it's just never fully realized.
16x9 Enhanced: No
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Surround, Dolby Surround
Languages: English (5.1, Dolby Surround)
Extras: Theatrical Trailer
"Three Days of the Condor" is not one of the best movies to show off the capabilities of a DVD player. The movie is not particularly attractive to look at, so even though the widescreen image is sharp and mostly clear of artifacting, it's still not very impressive. The quality of the image seems to have suffered a bit from the source elements, although the remixed Dolby 5.1 soundtrack sounds good (although the only place the soundtrack is really allowed to shine is when the music is playing; most of the film is simply dialogue). The disc contains no extras except a terribly dated theatrical trailer.
Copyright © 1999 James Kendrick