Hef's Movie Notes: Three Days of the Condor

By Hugh Hefner

Hef introduces the 70s thriller starring Faye Dunaway and Robert Redford.

Tonight: Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway, with Cliff Robertson and Max Von Sydow in 3 Days of the Condor.

The film is based on a novel titled Six Days of the Condor by James Grady.

It’s a CIA thriller. Redford’s code name in the CIA is “CONDOR,” and he learns, the hard way, that “we have met the enemy, and he is us!”

Former CIA Director Richard Helms served as an advisor to Redford in his role.

Stories like this one were popular at the time, because of the public’s interest in the concurrent Watergate scandal.

No fiction could compete with the government corruption that came to be known as “Watergate.” So the public, at the time, was pre-disposed to accept such stories.

The film was shot in early 1975 in Brooklyn, Hoboken, New York and Washington, D.C.

Paramount staged the premiere at the Astor Plaza Theater in New York City on September 24, 1975—a year in which Redford was the #1 box-office draw, above, in order, Barbra Streisand, Al Pacino, Charles Bronson, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Woody Allen and Steve McQueen.

Director Sydney Pollack had made three earlier films with Redford. Pollack has two cameos in the movie: He provides the voices of Faye Dunaway’s boyfriend on the telephone, and he is the cab driver who nearly strikes Redford on the street.

Redford and Pollack have now done at least seven films together, including Out of Africa, for which Pollack won an Oscar.

Tonight’s film earned just one Oscar nomination—for Best Film Editing. It also earned an “R” rating.

The cost is unknown, but the domestic film rental was more than $20 million—a strong performance.

Ad lines included: “The CIA knows him as Condor. What he knows about them has just made him an endangered species.” And: “His code name is Condor. In the next 24 hours, everyone he trusts will try to kill him.”

The story seems inspired by several Alfred Hitchcock classics, most notably the wonderful 39 Steps.

Roger Ebert wrote, “…A well-made thriller, tense and involving.”

Vincent Canby’s review in the New York Times (which plays an important part in the story): “As a serious expose of misdeeds within the CIA, the film is no match for stories that have appeared in your local newspaper. Indeed, one has to pay careful attention to figure out just what it is that who is doing what to whom. And if I understand it correctly, it’s never as horrifying as the real thing.”

The film has been the object of many satires on TV, including a “Simpsons” episode called 3 Gays in the Condo.

So now, from 1975, Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway in 3 Days of the Condor.


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