Three Days of the Condor

Three Days of the Condor Information

Three Days of the Condor is a 1975 American political thriller film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, and Max von Sydow. The screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Rayfiel was adapted from the 1974 novel Six Days of the Condor by James Grady. Set mainly in New York City and Washington, D.C., the film is about a bookish CIA researcher who comes back from lunch and discovers all his co-workers dead, and must outwit those responsible until he figures out whom he can really trust. The film addresses the perceived moral ambiguity of the actions of elements within the United States government during the early 1970s. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Film Editing. Semple and Rayfiel received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Motion Picture Screenplay.


Joe Turner (Robert Redford) is a CIA employee (Condor is his code name) who works in a clandestine office in New York City. He reads books, newspapers, and magazines from around the world, looking for hidden meanings and new ideas. As part of his duties, Turner files a report to CIA headquarters on a low-quality thriller novel his office has been reading, pointing out strange plot elements therein, and the unusual assortment of languages into which the book has been translated.

On the day in which Turner expects a response to his report, a group of armed men, led by an Alsatian assassin later identified as Joubert (Max von Sydow), executes the six people in the office. Turner escapes death because at the moment of the incursion, he was out of the office getting lunch. Realizing he is in danger when he returns to the office and discovers his coworkers' bodies, Turner calls the CIA's New York headquarters, and is given instructions to meet some agents who will take care of him. The meeting, however, is a trap, and Turner escapes an attempt to kill him.

Needing a place to hide, Turner forces a woman, Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway), whom he sees randomly in a ski shop, to take him to her apartment in Brooklyn Heights. He holds her prisoner while he attempts to figure out what's going on. However, his hiding place is discovered. A hitman, disguised as a postman with a parcel that must be signed for, shows up at the apartment. Turner opens the door and a fight ensues. Turner kills the hitman.

Realizing that he cannot trust anyone within the CIA, Turner begins to play a cat-and-mouse game with Higgins (Cliff Robertson), deputy director of the CIA's New York division. With the help of Hale, Turner abducts Higgins, who reveals through questioning that the killer was a Frenchman named Joubert.

Higgins discovers that the postman who attacked Turner in Hale's apartment was a former U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant and CIA operative who had collaborated with Joubert on a previous operation. That operation's mastermind, however, is revealed to be Leonard Atwood (Addison Powell), the CIA Deputy Director of Operations and Higgins' superior.

Meanwhile, using material he found on the fake postman's body, Turner finds where Joubert is staying, then uses his skills as a former telephone lineman to trace a call Joubert makes from his hotel room. He then finds the name and address of the person Joubert called: Atwood. Turner confronts Atwood at his home late at night and questions him at gunpoint. Turner learns that the report he had filed had uncovered a secret plan to take over Middle East oil fields, setting in motion the deaths of all of his section's members.

Joubert surprises them, takes away Turner's pistol, and unexpectedly kills Atwood. The contract has now changed: even though Atwood had hired Joubert to terminate Turner before, Atwood's superiors have now hired Joubert to terminate Atwood. Turner is dumbfounded, realizing that Joubert and he are on the same side, working once again for the CIA. Joubert is disarmingly courteous, suggesting that Turner leave the country, even become an assassin himself since Turner had shown such resourcefulness in staying alive. Turner rejects the suggestions, but seems to take seriously Joubert's warning that the CIA will still try to kill him. Joubert even muses aloud on how Turner's killing would likely be carried out.

Turner goes back to New York City and meets Higgins on a busy street. Higgins defends the oil fields plan, claiming that there will be a day in which oil shortages will cause a major economic crisis for the country. And when that day comes, Americans will want the government to use any means necessary to obtain the oil. Turner says he has told the press "a story" (they are standing outside The New York Times office), but Higgins questions Turner's assurances that the story will be printed. After a brief dialogue, an anxious Turner walks away. The final shot is a freeze frame of Turner passing behind a Salvation Army band singing Christmas carols, while looking over his shoulder toward the camera.


  • Robert Redford as Joseph Turner
  • Faye Dunaway as Kathy Hale
  • Cliff Robertson as J. Higgins
  • Max von Sydow as G. Joubert
  • John Houseman as Wabash
  • Addison Powell as Leonard Atwood
  • Tina Chen as Janice Chon
  • Hank Garrett as The Mailman
  • Carlin Glynn as Mae Barber
  • Patrick Gorman as Martin
  • Russell Johnson as Intelligence Officer
  • Michael Kane as S.W. Wicks
  • Jess Osuna as The Major
  • Helen Stenborg as Mrs. Edwina Russell
  • Sal Schillizzi as Locksmith


Filming locations

Three Days of the Condor was filmed in the following locations:

  • 1 World Trade Center, World Trade Center, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA (CIA offices)
  • 7 World Trade Center, World Trade Center, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
  • 13 Cranberry Street, Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA (Hale's apartment)
  • 55 East 77th Street, New York City, USA (American Literary Historical Society, where Turner works)
  • 240 East 38th Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA (New York Telephone Building)
  • Ansonia building, West 73rd Street and Broadway, New York City, New York, USA (alley where agents try to shoot Turner)
  • Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, New York, USA (Turner and Hale driving out of New York, overhead shot)
  • Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
  • Candy Shop, 1226 Lexington Avenue and East 83rd Street, New York City, New York, USA (where Turner orders food)
  • Central Park, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
  • E76th Street and Madison Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA (Turner at the phone booth)
  • E77th Street and Madison Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA (Turner walking alone)
  • Hoboken, New Jersey, USA (train station)
  • Holiday Inn, 440 West 57th Street and 9th Avenue, New York City, New York, USA (Turner wiretapping)
  • National Mall, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
  • New York Institute of Technology, de Seversky Mansion, Old Westbury, New York, USA (Atwood's home)
  • Reagan National Airport, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Arlington, Virginia, USA
  • Riverside Drive and West 122nd Street, New York City, New York, USA (Turner at the phone booth)
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
  • The New York Times Company, 229 West 43rd Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA (final scene)


All music by Dave Grusin, except where noted.

  1. "Condor! (Theme from 3 Days of the Condor)" 3:35
  2. "Yellow Panic" 2:15
  3. "Flight of the Condor" 2:25
  4. "We'll Bring You Home" 2:24
  5. "Out to Lunch" 2:00
  6. "Goodbye for Kathy (Love Theme from 3 Days of the Condor)" (2:16
  7. "I've Got You Where I Want You" 3:12 (Grusin/Bahler; sung by Jim Gilstrap)
  8. "Flashback to Terror" 2:24
  9. "Sing Along with the C.I.A." 1:34
  10. "Spies of a Feather, Flocking Together (Love Theme from 3 Days of the Condor" 1:55
  11. "Silver Bells" 2:37 (Livingstone / Evans; Vocal: Marti McCall)
  12. "Medley: a) Condor! (Theme) / b) I've Got You Where I Want You" 1:57
NOTE: Much of Grusin's music for this film was later used for the martial arts film Enter the Game of Shaolin Bronzemen.

Critical reception

When first released, the film was reviewed positively by critic Vincent Canby, who wrote:

The late French philosopher, Jean Baudrillard, makes mention of the film as an example of a new genre of "retro cinema" in his essay on history in the now foundational text, Simulacra and Simulation (1981):



  • Cartagena Film Festival: Golden India Catalina, Best Actor, Max von Sydow; 1976.
  • David di Donatello Awards: Special David, Sydney Pollack, for the direction; 1976.
  • Edgar Allan Poe Awards: Edgar; Best Motion Picture, Lorenzo Semple Jr. David Rayfiel; 1976.
  • Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards: KCFCC Award; Best Supporting Actor, Max von Sydow; 1976.
  • Motion Picture Sound Editors: Golden Reel Award; Best Sound Editing - Sound Effects; 1976.

  • Academy Awards: Oscar; Best Film Editing, Fredric Steinkamp and Don Guidice; 1976.
  • Cartagena Film Festival: Golden India Catalina; Best Film, Sydney Pollack; 1976.
  • Golden Globe Awards: Golden Globe; Best Motion Picture Actress - Drama, Faye Dunaway; 1976.
  • Grammy Awards: Grammy; Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special, Dave Grusin; 1977.

Parodies and references

The Simpsons had an episode called "Three Gays of the Condo", although that episode's plot was unrelated to Three Days of the Condor. Similarly, the sitcom Frasier had an episode titled "Three Days of the Condo", King of the Hill had an episode called "Three Days of the Kahndo", and Duck Tales had an episode called "Three Ducks of the Condor".

Seinfeld borrowed language from the film in the episode "The Junk Mail" (Season 9, Episode 5). In this episode, Kramer refused to accept mail and when Newman warned him that he is in danger for doing this, the warning is very similar to Max von Sydow's warning to Robert Redford not to trust the CIA: Newman: "Here's how it's going to happen: you may be..."

In the beginning of the 1992 film Sneakers, Robert Redford's character avoids police apprehension because he steps out to buy pizza, which bears a loose similarity to his character's luck in avoiding execution in this film's beginning. Additionally, two of the casualties of the CIA building attack are named "Martin" and "Bishop." Redford's alias in Sneakers is "Martin Bishop."

In The Invisible Man episode "The Catevari" (Season 1, Episode 3), protagonist Darien Fawkes sarcastically references the film's title when his boss refuses to tell him secrets regarding the episode's villain by saying: "Why don't you cut the Three Days of the Condor crap?".

The X-Files episode "The Blessing Way" (Season 3, Episode 1) features the Well-Manicured Man warning Agent Scully about how she might be assassinated - one of them involving "someone close to you," similar to Joubert's conversation with Turner in Condor.

In the TV show Breaking Bad, DEA Agent Hank Schrader compares it to a case he's working on, by saying "This shit is starting to feel like Three Days of the Condor."

In the 1998 film Out of Sight, the characters portrayed by George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez discuss the movie while locked in the trunk of a car.

During a viewing of A Young Man's Fancy, a 1952 short about a young woman who schemes to impress a suitor, Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 comments, "This is like Three Days of the Condor, I don't know who to trust in this short!"

Technological aspects

Three Days of the Condor was an early example of the "techno-thriller" which later came to maturity in the 1990s with films such as Mission: Impossible and Enemy of the State. In the early scenes, one can see a book being scanned by a beam and presumably digitized for storage in the computer of the CIA substation research office. While at least one scene shows punch-card terminals, most scenes involving computers show dumb-terminals, including in Higgins' administrative office. There is also an elaborate sequence in which Redford manipulates a Bell telephone exchange to confound CIA tracing equipment (a plot device used in subsequent films) and in which he digitizes a recording of dialing tones to extract the dialed number. Several shots in the film show early modems being used.

Panning and scanning

In 1997, The Association of Danish Film Directors, on behalf of Pollack, sued Danmarks Radio, claiming that their broadcasting the film in a panned and scanned version violated his copyright. The case was unsuccessful, as the rights were not owned by Pollack personally in the first place. The case is believed to have been the first legal challenge to the practice of panning and scanning for broadcast on the grounds that it compromises the artistic integrity of an original film.

See also

  • Conspiracy thriller
  • Techno thriller

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Three_Days_of_the_Condor" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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