BlueRay: Three Days of the Condor – (1975)

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BlueRay: Three Days of the Condor - (1975) Genre: Drama, Mystery, Romance, Thriller, Release Date: 2009-05-19 Du...

BlueRay: Three Days of the Condor – (1975)

BlueRay: Three Days of the Condor - (1975)
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Romance, Thriller,
Release Date: 2009-05-19
Duration: 117 Min

  • Sydney Pollack

Joe Turner (Robert Redford) is an employee of the CIA. He’s not a secret agent, his job is to read, and he and his co-workers at the American Literary Historical Society read everything; books, comics, magazines, and they scan everything into a database to be cross-checked against real CIA operations. On a rainy December morning it’s business as usual, so no one notices the non-descript man sitting in plain sedan across the street from Joe’s building, checking off names of every employee as they enter.

Inside, Joe looks for an answer to a letter he’d sent to the main CIA office at Langley. He has a theory about connections he’s noticed between operations in Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and other locations around the world, but so far there’s no response. Noon approaches, and it’s his turn to go out for lunch. Since it’s still raining, he ducks out the basement door (which is against regulations) and cuts through several back alleys to the deli. Meanwhile, the sedan out front quietly pulls away after signaling to 3 men waiting in the street. They move in with quiet determination and knock on the front door.

At the deli around the block, Joe picks up lunch for the others and then runs back. Since the rain has stopped, he goes to the front door, and buzzes the security intercom to be let in, but gets no answer. Pushing on the door, he finds it is unlocked, which it never is. Inside he finds a scene of carnage. Everyone has been murdered, shot to death in the few minutes he has been gone. Fighting down his shock and horror, he grabs a pistol from the receptionist’s desk and flees.

Suddenly, everyone on the street looks suspicious, and Joe realizes that whoever killed his coworkers is probably still looking for him. He finds a payphone and calls an emergency contact number at the CIA. “This is…uh…’Condor'” Joe says, fighting through the shock to remember his code name. “The section’s been hit. Everyone’s dead.” Told not to panic, and to call back in two hours, a CIA response team quickly arrives and verifies Joe’s story. Higgens (Cliff Robertson), the section chief in New York, wonders why in the world someone would take out a research office like this, and calls his supervisor at CIA headquarters.

Joe calls back and is told to stay alive 1 more hour. He’s to meet his dept. head in a specified back alley off 72nd street where he’ll be picked up and brought in safely, but when Joe enters the alley, shots ring out. His own department head is trying to kill him. Joe fires back and wounds the man, then runs away in a panic. Convinced he can trust no one, in desperation he kidnaps a woman on the street as she gets into her truck. Kathy (Faye Dunaway) is terrified, but drives Turner to her apartment. Terrified himself, he holds the gun on her as he tries to figure out what to do next.

Gradually, Kathy begins to realize that Turner is in real trouble and doesn’t want to hurt her, but she still doesn’t believe his story. He goes out to try and contact an old friend and get some help, but at the friend’s apartment, he finds only another bullet-riddled body. Realizing the assassin is hard on his tail, he tries to get out of the building alive, and when he gets on the elevator, Joe finds himself next to a quiet man in a trenchcoat. Some inner sense tells him that this fellow is part of the problem, and Joe hesitates as the other man slowly walks out through the lobby. Convincing a group of loitering youth to walk out with him, he makes it back to Kathy’s Bronco as the trenchcoated man waits across the street, a rifle trained on Turner’s back. Unable to get a clear shot, Joubert (Max Von Sydow) runs after the truck and manages to get the license plate number.

Returning to Kathy’s apartment, he agrees to let her take a shower and get changed. While waiting, a mailman knocks at the door with a package. Joe opens the door and once inside he pulls a machine gun on Joe and opens fire. Diving behind the furniture, he fires back with the pistol, and both men wind up in a fight to the death. Kathy emerges from her shower to find her apartment trashed and Joe sitting next to a dead mailman. Now that “they” know where he is, she’s involved too, and they must flee before another hit man arrives.

Despite his fear, Joe has the beginnings of a plan, and Kathy agrees to help. They visit the NYC office of the CIA and Kathy pretends to apply for a job, then gets “lost” while she looks for Joe’s section chief, Higgins. Once spotted, she helps Joe kidnap him while he eats lunch, and Higgins is hustled into the back of Kathy’s Bronco. Interrogated by Turner, he confesses that he doesn’t know what’s going on any more that they do. “This is obviously an inside operation”, he says.

Joe manages to put the pieces together by tracking down Joubert, the quiet man in the trenchcoat. Tapping into the phone exchange in Joubert’s hotel, he monitors the calls, and places an anonymous one himself to Joubert. “Do you believe the Condor is an endangered species?” he asks, and hangs up. Joubert quickly calls his controller, and Joe is able to track the call to a man named Atwood, a high-level supervisor in the CIA. As he prepares to confront Atwood, Joe thanks Kathy for all her help, and reluctantly leaves her.

At Atwood’s country home, the stereo suddenly comes on in the middle of the night, and when he investigates the noise in his study he finds Turner sitting quietly in a chair, holding a gun. Forced to confess, Atwood tells Joe that the hit on the section was due to that paper he’d sent to CIA headquarters, the one about the connections to various countries around the world. Atwood is involved in a scheme to manipulate the world’s oil markets and Turner’s paper had hit too close to the truth. He and anyone else who might know about it had to be eliminated. Furious, Joe points the gun at Atwood.

“Drop the gun,” says a quiet voice; It’s Joubert, standing quietly behind him. Realizing his defeat, Joe drops the pistol on the floor and waits for the inevitable, thinking that at least now he knows why all this has happened. But when Joubert fires, Joe is startled to see that it’s Atwood who’s been shot instead. Joubert calmly begins to wipe down the room, explaining that ‘Condor’ was no longer the target. “Atwood had become an embarrassment,” he explains to a stunned Joe, leading him outside the house and handing back his pistol. “Can I drop you somewhere?” he asks in a friendly tone.

With a new lease on life, Joe still has a few loose ends to tie up. Returning to New York, Joe waits for Higgins to walk past on the street, and they have a tense final confrontation. Higgins explains that the CIA does business this way because they need to. There is no other way. Turner disagrees, and as they stop in front of the offices of the New York Times, Turner tells Higgins that they’ve become too used to killing people as part of their job. He’s told a reporter everything.

“Ah, you fool,” sighs Higgins. “You’ve done more harm than you know.” As Turner walks away, Higgins calls after him. “It didn’t have to end this way Condor. You’re about to become a very lonely man.” Joe seems not to care. He’s had his revenge on the CIA, and he fades away into the crowd.


Robert Redford

Faye Dunaway

Cliff Robertson

Max von Sydow


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3 responses to “BlueRay: Three Days of the Condor – (1975)”

  1. APC Reviews "APC Reviews" says:
    28 of 31 people found the following review helpful:
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Better view than the DVD. But only if it can be purchased used or on mark down at $10 or less, May 25, 2009
    APC Reviews “APC Reviews” (USA) –

    This review is from: 3 Days of the Condor [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)

    Film has very problematic picture and sound quality on Blu-Ray. It’s a great 70s era “conspiracy” film, and very slow and talky in the Sydney Pollack way, that appears rather quaint and naive considering what we have learned about the way the world works since then. The source transfer for “3 Days of the Condor” has obviously not been re-done for Blu-Ray, and appears to be the same source transfer used for the much older DVD edition of this film. Although the superior medium and capabilities of a 1080p Blu-Ray disc make this an upgraded way to view this material, the limitations of an aging source transfer abound and call attention to themselves. Detail is good in well lit scenes, much less so on indirectly lit surfaces and shadows. Blacks are unstable, noisy and milky. Skin tone and texture show the waxy effect of DNR (digital noise reduction). Much of the “grain” appears to be tele-cine noise, much more than the actual grain in the original material. The sound is mediocre. All in all a better view than the DVD version. But only worth renting, or if it can be purchased used or on mark down at $10 or less. A fine film. But this Blu-Ray edition is certainly not worth $20.

  2. Dennis A. Amith (kndy) says:
    18 of 19 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Blu-ray: A wonderful thriller that gets its HD transfer but I wished there was commentary and more special features, May 19, 2009
    Dennis A. Amith (kndy) (California) – (VINE VOICE)

    This review is from: 3 Days of the Condor [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)

    In Nov. 1975, “Three Days of the Condor”, a suspenseful conspiracy thriller based on the novel by James Grady (titled “Six Days of the Condor) was adapted to film and directed by Sydney Pollack (“Sabrina” (1995), “The Firm”, “The Way We Were”) and a screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr. (“King Kong”, “Flash Gordon”, “Sheena”, etc.) and David Rayfiel was released in theaters. The film which received positive reviews by critics was nominated for a 1976 Academy Award for “Film Editing” and also a winner of multiple awards. VIDEO & AUDIO: ”3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR” is a 1975 film that is featured for the first time in 1080p High Definition on Blu-ray. Because the film was created in 1975, the film quality does show a bit of age but the transfer is actually better in picture quality that some 1990’s and early-2000 films that I have seen on High Definition. The film does showcase a few dust but there are a number of dark scenes and a few compression artifacts were detect but again, for a film over 34-years old, the colors were strong, blacks were good and overall, a very good transfer of the film to Blu-ray. As for audio, the film is featured in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (and also French Mono). Truth be told, this is a front channel, dialogue driven film. If there was use of any bass, it’s that old 70’s bass picking style that was popular at the time that utilizes the bass. As for the action sequences, the gunshots and everything else seems quite bland but I was not expecting thrilling audio directionals to come from all speaker channels with this film, so I found the audio satisfactory for a film this old. Subtitles are featured in English, English SDH, French and Spanish. SPECIAL FEATURES: ”3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR” has only one special feature and that is the original theatrical trailer with scratches and dust galore. The trailer is in HD but it would have been nice to have someone do a commentary or revisit this film especially how relevant it is in today’s modern world. JUDGMENT CALL: ”3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR” is a very good conspiracy thriller. What is quite shocking about this film which was released in 1975 is how it actually predicts the government’s involvement in future affairs. I don’t want to go into too much into the film without spoiling it but I will say that what Turner is able to find out, it’s what’s happening in today’s modern world, especially with the United States. What is also a bit numbing to see is the few shots of the Twin Towers and the film featuring the two buildings not long after they were built. Robert Redford’s performance was fine but there were some lines that almost echoed a John Wayne style of acting which was acceptable around that time but for today’s modern viewers, it may not hold up. Stars that did shine in this film were Faye Dunaway, who did a great job playing the role of Kathy Hale. As a captive hostage turned woman who is willing to aid her abductor, this was a film that seems to utilize “Stockholm Syndrome” and not surprising considering that the Patty Hearst-SLA bank robberies in real life happened in 1974 or perhaps its a woman who agrees to help Joe Turner because both share a side of sadness and loneliness in their life. Max von Sydow as the assassin Joubert is also quite effective in his role, especially during the big reveal near the end of the film. In reviewing this Blu-ray release, although a few artifacts and dust are seen on the video quality, this is probably the best transfer we will get of the film. The audio quality is uninspiring but considering this is not a modern film which we come to expect full utilization of audio channels, “3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR” is quite clear in dialogue and for a 1975 film, taking all things into consideration, this is a pretty good transfer on Blu-ray ala HD. My main peeve with this Blu-ray release is that a film with so much relevance for today’s modern world, it would have been wonderful to have interviews with the stars or having some sort of special feature included other than the trailer. The film is a well-written, well-edited and captivating thriller with a storyline that I don’t know if Sydney Pollack or even novel writer James Grady knew how relevant it would be over 30 years later. Overall, “3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR” is definitely an action-thriller classic definitely worth recommending!

  3. Peter G. Huseman "peter huseman" says:
    8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Blu Ray version much improved, July 31, 2009
    Peter G. Huseman “peter huseman” (Littleton, CO United States) – (REAL NAME)

    This review is from: 3 Days of the Condor [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)

    I compared the new blu-ray version to the anamorphic DVD previously released, and to summarize, it is considerably better. For example: sharpness of the credits, the cleanliness of the frames (the previous DVD had considerable smudges on many frames), the color-accuracy of the violet light Dr. Lapp has in his office for his plants, details in the printed letters on the pages shown on copiers, all significantly better. This is on a large screen, however (100 inch, 1080i front projector). Could be small screens won’t see much difference. Highly recommended update to the previous DVD!

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