Sydney Pollack and Robert Redford’s third collaboration together is a remarkably well-made thriller that carries a contemporary Hitchcockian feel to it.
Released in 1975 to widespread critical acclaim, Three Days of the Condor sees Redford’s C.I.A. analyst, Joe Turner entwined in a story of deceit and corruption within the US government. The politically charged storyline had a discernible resonance with American audiences at the time due to its release being a matter of months after the Watergate scandal, making Roger Ebert write in his review at the time that “it’s all too believable”.
As the film progresses, Redford’s Turner literally has paranoia thrust upon him, he, and in turn the audience, can trust no one. Whether it is Faye Dunaway’s innocent Kathy, Cliff Robertson’s bureaucrat Higgins or the wonderful Max Von Sydow’s hired assassin, Joubert. The supporting cast is one of the film’s highlights, Dunaway and Robertson are excellent as potential allies, but it is Max Von Sydow’s assassin who steals the show, dominating every scene he’s in, the omniscient Joubert is portrayed almost like a Bond villain with his European accent and constant shroud of mystery surrounding him.
Pollack’s film has a certain neo-Hitchcock feel to it, to a certain extent, Redford’s Joe is a man wrongly accused and mistaken identity is an extremely common Hitchcock narrative trope, consider The Wrong Man, or North by Northwest. However, instead of a soaring orchestral Bernard Herman score, we hear an almost Blaxploitation-esque score by Dave Grusin, a score that firmly places this film in the 1970’s. Pollack’s film has arguably the most similarities with Hitchcock’s 1966 Cold-War thriller, Torn Curtain due to its political theme. One fight scene in Kathy’s living room between Turner and a postman cum-assassin has particular similarities to a rather violent scene in Torn Curtain.
Although Pollack is more noted for his later work in the 1980’s with Oscar winning films Tootsie (1982) and Out of Africa (1985), Three Days of the Condor is a relatively early example of the director’s outstanding technical ability behind the camera. As far as conspiracy thrillers go, this is as good as it really gets.
Three Days of the Condor will be released by Eureka Entertainment on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK as part of a Dual Format edition on 11 April 2016.
Mystery Thriller | USA, 1975 | Eureka Entertainment | 15| 11th April 2016 (UK) | Dir.Sydney Pollock |Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow, Cliff Robertson, John Houseman | Buy: Dual Format