3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 15, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“An awesome and classic suspense thriller from 1975 that has major relevance to what is happening in the world today. ‘3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR’ is a well-written, well-edited film that will captivate your attention and definitely worth recommending on Blu-ray!”
TITLE: 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR
DURATION: 117 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, French Mono, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish
COMPANY: Paramount Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: May 19, 2009
Directed by Sydney Pollack
Based on a novel by James Grady
Screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr.
Executive Producer: Dino De Laurentis
Produced by Stanley Schneider
Music by Dave Grusin
Director of Photography by Owen Roizman
Edited by Don Guidice
Casting by Shirley Rich
Production Design by Stephen B. Grimes
Art Direction by Gene Rudolf
Set Decoration by George DeTitta Sr.
Costume Design by Joseph G. Auilisi
Robert Redford as Joseph Turner/The Condor
Faye Dunaway as Kathy Hale
Cliff Robertson as J. Higgins
Max von Sydow as G. Joubert
Joun Houseman as Mr. Wabash
Addison Powell as Leonard Atwood
Walter McGinn as Sam Barber
Tina Chen as Janice Chon
Michael Kane as S.W. Wicks
Don McHenry as Dr. Ferdinand Lappe
Michael B. Miller as Fowler
Hansford Rowe as Jennings
Every twist leads Condor to the end of his nerves…and will take you to the edge of your seat. With nowhere to turn and no one to trust, Turner realizes his most dangerous enemy may be closer than he ever feared. And as he zeroes in on the truth, he discovers there are some secrets people would kill to keep.
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.
The film focuses on the character of Joe Turner (Robert Redford), an employee of the CIA but not a field agent. Turner is part of the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) which acquires information from public sources to produce intelligence. As part of his duties, he reads a lot of books and tries to point out strange plots and report on the various languages the books have been translated to.
We see an assassin (Max von Sydow) crossing the names off of the people but he waits in his car and crosses out the name of Joe Turner.
Joe goes off to grab some lunch and exits from the secret area that the employees use. But while he is gone, the office secretary is duped by a mailman and thus the assassin and a few others gain entry to the OSINT headquarters and massacres all the employees. When Turner arrives back from his lunch, he discovers everyone is dead. He grabs a .45 caliber handgun from the office and goes into a phone booth to call the emergency hot line to inform his superiors that his office has been hit.
He then goes to visit his co-worker Ralph Heidegger who called in sick and finds that he has been killed.
Confused and still in shock, Joe Turner who goes by the code name “Condor” is contacted by Higgins (Cliff Robertson), the Deputy Director of the CIA in New York City who tells him that he will be meeting with his section chief Wicks (Michael Kane). But Turner wants to make sure he is not talking to the enemy, so Higgins agrees to bring Sam Barber (Walter McGinn), a person that Turner knows to accompany Wicks.
When Turner goes to meet with Sam and Wicks, Wicks starts shooting after Turner to the shock of Sam, who realizes the CIA has been compromised and that Turner is a target. Turner shoots Wicks and runs off but Wick then shoots and kills Sam to prevent any secret from coming out.
Knowing that his life is in danger, he reacts by finding someone that is defenseless. So, he goes to a ski shop and sees a woman, Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway) and when she finishes her shopping and about to go into her car, Turner takes her by gunpoint and has her take him to her apartment.
Telling her that he needs some time to think things out, Kathy is a bit belligerent for him taking her hostage. As Turner turns on the news, he learns that the CIA has covered up the deaths of Wicks but also learns that Sam has been killed. Turner needs to know if Sam’s wife knows anything, so he ties and gags Kathy while taking her car to visit Sam’s wife.
Turner visits Sam’s wife Mae (Carlin Glynn) and tries to get information if Sam tried to call her but she doesn’t know anything. All she knows is people keep calling her home and hanging up. She doesn’t know her husband is dead. Turner immediately tells her to leave and go to her friend’s apartment.
As he escorts her to the elevator, the assassin named Joubert arrives and both the assassin and Turner ride the elevator together (many people are in the elevator). Turner senses he is one of the bad guys. Turner insists that Joubert exit the elevator which he does. Meanwhile, Turner talks to a group of people that he will pay them $5 if they can open his car door which he left his keys in, and so he and the group of people walk out of the building, while Joubert has his sniper ready to kill Turner. But with so many people surrounding him, he is unable to get a shot.
Turner escapes but Joubert manages to get the license plate of Kathy Hale’s car.
When Turner returns to Hale’s apartment, he unties her and when Turner talks about needing more time and he would leave in the morning, she is convinced (or Stockholm’s Syndrome) that she should help him. Immediately the two start having sex (note: Although not much was shown, in 1975, this was very controversial) and Turner tries to piece in his mind the players in the CIA and why his office would be targeted.
While Kathy gets dressed, a mailman comes to bring a package to the apartment (this is the same mailman who was involved in the OSINT massacre) but his pen is not working. As Turner goes to get a pen, he sees the brown rugged shoes of the mailman and senses that he is an enemy and a fight ensues. The mailman tries to shoot at Turner but Kathy disrupts him long enough for Turner to get a shot in and kill the assassin.
When Turner goes through the belongings of the dead assassin, he finds a paper with a phone number which links back to the CIA. Turner now knows that possibly, someone in the CIA are going after their own CIA operatives.
This leads Turner to find the truth about why his team was murdered and why they are after him.
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.
“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.
“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!
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