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3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max Von Sydow, John Houseman
Director: Sydney Pollack
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 117 Minutes
Release Date: May 19, 2009

“Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?”

Film ***

I first saw Three Days of the Condor on VHS many years ago, at which point I was experiencing a sudden addiction to espionage thrillers, both in books and films. This was around the time the film adaptation of Tom Clancy’s Patriot Games had come to theaters, so I decided to look into several other thrillers from the past involving the CIA. I probably should’ve waited a few years to see it, because I was way too young to take in such a convoluted thriller. Now that I’ve revisited the film, it was much easier to follow, thus indicating I’ve matured greatly as a filmgoer.

The late Sydney Pollack established himself as one of a director who never limited himself to a particular film genre. This film was Pollack’s first foray into thriller territory, which he would later revisit with the likes of Absence of Malice, The Firm and The Interpreter. Three Days of the Condor is regarded as one of the best conspiracy thrillers to come out of the 70s, and the primary factor in the overall quality is unquestionably the way Pollack manages to keep the film consistently tight.

At the center of the story is Joe Turner (Robert Redford), who is pretty much the last person one would expect to outwit the forces of evil. He’s basically a CIA bookworm, who works out of office where he and a staff go through all kinds of books. This is done specifically in order to feed the government any possible hints or scenarios from the pages within that could result in the country becoming compromised.

One day, while Joe is out grabbing lunch, a group of men enter his office building and kill everyone. They nearly miss Joe, who returns to the office and is shocked by what he discovers. He immediately follows his instincts and goes on the run.

He eventually reports the incident to his superiors, who then tell him to wait for a contact to pick him up. But when Joe meets up at the exact location he was told to be at, shots are fired in his direction. He goes on the run once more, realizing that his own bosses may be trying to wipe him out.

Since it appears that he can’t trust anyone, Joe takes a risk and kidnaps a random stranger. Her name is Kathy (Faye Dunaway), a professional photographer. Joe’s plan is to have her take him to her apartment just so he can figure out his next move.

I won’t delve into the rest of the movie, since it basically consists of one huge story turn after another. I’m not entirely sure if I could turn in a fair explanation of all the double-dealing and convoluted plot twists. Basically, if you took the plot of the first Mission: Impossible movie and set in 1975 New York, you should get a sense of what you’re in for.

All in all, Three Days of the Condor is a tense, intriguing, well acted and directed tale of espionage. It presents Robert Redford in prime form and the forever beautiful Faye Dunaway in pure knockout style. The main star of the film, though, is Sydney Pollack’s directing, which is extremely effective in how it maneuvers this tension-filled story.

Video ***1/2

I was incredibly impressed by Paramount’s handling of this 70s release in high def form. This is the first film from the decade I’ve seen on Blu-ray, and it perfectly illustrates that this format can work wonders for a movie from any past decade. The detail in several set pieces is downright striking. Though the dimly-lit scenes tend to appear a bit murky, the overall presentation of this film is stunning when you take into account what the 1080p has accomplished with a film that has this much age.

Audio ***

The very fact that a film from 1975 is being presented in a Dolby TrueHD mix makes this worth checking out. Though a dialogue driven film, the lossless audio does make the most of the NYC setting, as well as several scenes involving gunfire. And the dialogue itself is truly well delivered through the channels.

Features *

The only extra provided is a Theatrical Trailer.

Summary:

Sydney Pollack is a filmmaker who is deeply missed, and the masterful work displayed in Three Days of the Condor represents some of his finest work as a director. This classic 70s thriller looks and sounds better than it ever has thanks to the miracle of Blu-ray. Definitely worth revisiting!

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