Short Movie Review: Three Days of the Condor

The 1975 spy thriller directed by Sydney Pollack is centered around CIA analyst Joe Turner (Robert Redford, just prior to his crusading reporter turn in *All the President’s Men*)—a kind of proto-Jack Ryan. Turner’s employed by the agency to read books, newspapers, and magazine and try to find material: new ideas, hidden codes, etc. Returning from lunch one day, Turner finds his entire office brutally murdered and is forced to go on the run. He kidnaps a woman (Faye Dunaway, not long removed from her performance in [*Chinatown*](http://doombot.com/2008/10/20/review-chinatown/)) and sets about trying to figure out how to evade contract assassin Joubert (Max von Sydow). This might seem like your archetypal conspiracy flick, but what makes it resonate for me is not only the still-curent themes (guess what’s the motivation behind the nefarious plot?) but the fact that Turner is a hero after my own heart: he’s totally unqualified as a spy except for his inquisitive mind and the fact that he *reads so damn much*. What better argument for literacy? The two final showdowns, between Turner and Joubert and then between Turner and Higgins (Cliff Robertson, perhaps best known to current moviegoers as Tobey Maguire’s Uncle Ben), the only CIA director who Turner thinks he can trust, are nerve-wracking and marvelously juxtaposed, leading to the delicious ambiguity of the ending.

(I would be fascinated, incidentally, to see somebody pitch a modern-day sequel with Redford reprising his role, kind of like Gene Hackman in *Enemy of the State* or Paul Newman in *The Color of Money*.)