Classic Intel: Three Days Of The Condor - Online Review

'Pollack's build-up to the opening punctuation mark is exemplary and screenwriters Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Rayfiel support him thereafter'

Robert Redford is an innocent behind-the-desk spy, Max von Sydow is a contract assassin, Faye Dunaway is the love interest, Sydney Pollack is directing a tantalising slice of 1970s Paranoia-Thriller. There's a lot here to like.

It's odd then that Three Days Of The Condor remains one of those rare films without a DVD release in the UK. Scratch around and you can pick it up on Dutch or German import but a UK release never seems to have happened and seeing it on Blu-ray feels as far away as time travel. Thankfully, somehow, Sky Movies seem to have grabbed the rights to air it.

Pollack's first third is film-school style stuff, a lesson in how you need to do very little to quickly introduce a setup which will have your audience hooked. Meaningless dialogue patters between Joseph Turner (Redford) and his co-workers, all of them unaware that they're about to enter an espionage film. Someone is watching them, more people are watching them, a postman is about to enter the building. Pollack's build-up to the opening punctuation mark is exemplary and screenwriters Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Rayfiel support him thereafter; Redford's first phonecall as 'Condor' is a scripting delight and real chance for the star to show his teeth.

Condor is, sadly, not quite perfect. There's also ripe scripting cheese to go with the slick moments - Redford's declaration that 'I don't remember yesterday', for one - and a number of dated moments (sex scene set to jazz? Check). Condor himself also escapes by chance at least twice and the labyrinth plot is sometimes presented muddily by the director.

But, even considering the effort you might have to go through to track this down, Three Days Of The Condor is a worthwhile stretch. Redford is as watchable as ever, Dunaway - in a sexually charged role of fuzzy politics - and von Sydow provide heavyweight support and the meta-narrative (Turner is an expert of pulp fiction and survives by living by the genres rules) proves both advanced and unique. A pretty stunning omission from the UK DVD shelves.




Three Days Of The Condor was playing on Sky Anytime.

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