Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Sydney Pollack’s Hitchcockian conspiracy thriller gets its first ever UK Blu-ray and DVD release courtesy of Eureka.
When CIA book reader Joe Turner (Robert Redford) returns from lunch one day to find his entire team massacred by evil Max von Sydow, it’s just the beginning of a taut game of cat and mouse that will last three days, and where he will come to realise he can trust no-one, not least the establishment he has been working for.

It wouldn’t be fair to tell you much more than that, as THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR deserves discovering by yourself if you’ve never seen it. Condor is Redford’s character’s codename, by the way. While Pollack isn’t especially known for being a director of suspense pictures he does a fine job of winding up the tension from about ten minutes in here. There are quite a few similarities to THE THIRTY NINE STEPS (any version, not just Hitchcock’s) but with the villains being part of the system rather than dastardly spies from another nation (a splendidly weary performance by John Houseman as one of the CIA higher ups gives us the revealing line ‘I miss the clarity of wartime’).

THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR works well on the whole, with its everyman hero having to rely on his wits most of the time, and his special training when it helps Pollack to emphasise the point about man vs the system. There’s a love story in the middle with Faye Dunaway’s character that feels a bit shoe-horned in and slows everything down just as the suspense has been building nicely, but otherwise this is a thoroughly decent 1975 thriller. And how can you not love something that name checks (presumably) Dario Argento?

Eureka’s disc comes with stereo and 5.1 surround sound options. Extras include an episode of ‘The Directors’ TV series which profiles Pollack’s career. There’s also a twenty minute talking head piece from Sheldon Hall about the movie and contextualising it within the dual careers of Redford and Pollack, as well as justifiably comparing it to other establishment conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s like Alan J Pakula’s THE PARALLAX VIEW (also 1975 - let’s have that on Blu-ray as well please, Eureka) and Michael Crichton’s COMA (1978). You also get a trailer and there’s a 32 page booklet with an enlightening new essay on the film by Michael Brooke and an interview from 1994 with Sydney Pollack (talking to John Boorman). 

Sydney Pollack's THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR is coming out from Eureka on Region B Blu-ray and Region 2 DVD in a dual format set on 11th April 2016