Sunday, January 31, 2010

Three Days of the Condor

Three Days of the Condor; thriller, USA, 1975; D: Sydney Pollack, S: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max von Sydow, John Houseman

Joseph "Condor" Turner is one of the 8 employees of a CIA office disguised as "American Literary Historical Society" in New York. They do only desk jobs, browsing for international novels to find strategies that could be used for the CIA. One day, Turner takes a shortcut and leaves the office through the back door to get some lunch. When he returns, he finds all his colleagues dead. He hides in the city and informs his superiors, though when one CIA agent tries to shoot him, it turns out he can't trust anybody. He hides in the apartment of a random woman, photographer Kathy. It turns out one high ranking CIA official gave the order because Turner asked for a specific novel that had plans for a invasion of the oil rich Middle East. He threatens Higgins that he will publish it if they don't leave him alone.

A classic example of a pure thriller that works despite a fake basic conclusion, "Thee Days of the Condor" is one of the best films by director Sydney Pollack who crafted it with passion. The minute the hero Turner (excellent Robert Redford) returns to his office from lunch and finds all his colleagues dead does the movie take a firm grip on the viewers and doesn't let go until the end, building slow, subtle suspense that plays with the fear of government security agencies and even contemplates about some political means that try to achieve some goals. The best moments of the film come from small, clever details - for instance, in one scene, Turner calls the assassin Joubert and hangs up, but records the sound of the phone buttons when he then dials to call his superior, using the sound to identify the latter's phone number. When Turner calls the CIA headquarters, they can't locate him because he connected his phone to 50 other links. A smooth, carefully constructed film with that wonderful 70s spirit and flair, while the only major flaw is the resolution of the mystery at the end, a gimmick which is disappointingly naive and borders almost to nonsense.


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