Movie review: The Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Primed for good spy thrillers after seeing A Most Wanted Man, I close a classic in the genre.

Three Days of the Condor is a decent enough flick. The acting is mostly good though there were moments where I wondered what the actor and/or director was thinking. There are some cheesy elements from the 1970s, not the least of which were male/female relations. (After kidnapping her, Redford holds the door for Dunaway.) But as the movie continued, it kind of grew on me.

Redford, the Condor, is a non-spy employee of the CIA. He and his coworkers spend their days reading books—any type of book, all books—for codes about events in the world. He steps out to get lunch while a hit happens at the office—a CIA hit on a CIA office by a splinter group in the CIA that was betrayed by another group employing the same assassin that the renegade CIA group used. Confused? So was I.

I couldn’t keep track of who belonged to which group. What rationale could there possibly be for the CIA to attack its own? Money in the form of Middle Eastern oil fields. OK. Possible enough, especially in the mid 1970s.

The reason Redford and his coworkers were involved? Redford formulated a theory from a fictional book that he read at work and passed this theory to his boss. This theory was dangerously close to what some bits of the CIA were involved in. I kind of found that to be a stretch.

Three Days of the Condor covers the days when Redford is on the run from his would-be assassins. During this time, he kidnaps Dunaway, has an affair with her, attempts to find out what was going on, and then finally disappears to try to survive on his own. The movie received good reviews but made me realize how dated movies can become; the technology, the dress, the manners, the male-female relations all belong in another time.

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