Paranoid Android! Thoughts On Sydney Pollack’s Three Days Of The Condor.
Sydney Pollack’s Three Days Of The Condor is a strikingly, almost eerily prescient conspiracy thriller ground between the World Trade Center and the Middle East. Masterfully tense, beautifully shot and a pretty unique and learned protagonist in Robert Redford’s professional reader render it a superior curio from the age of the paranoia flick. This fall of man is well-constructed; it opens with him clumsily riding his moped through the streets of New York (luminously captured here) and ends with one of the most disturbing freeze frames of them all, as our protagonist’s fate isn’t so much as laid bare as it is left completely, terrifyingly open.
Pollack was an interesting filmmaker. He was very much a studio hack, though though in this context that’s not automatically any bad thing. He sits comfortably alongside the likes of John Frankenheimer, Sidney Lumet and the later Steven Spielberg, as a figure who made his mark in television before heading to Hollywood before serving a honest life’s work behind the camera. Pollack’s work really came to life when Redford was stood in front of said camera.
Three Days Of The Condor is one of a number of great collaborations between the pair. Alongside Jeremiah Johnson and The Electric Horseman it’s also one of the best. Redford was a staggeringly photogenic talent in the 1970s and it’s arguably that no one captured that face better than Pollack and regular cinematographer Owen Roizman here on Three Days Of The Condor. The film’s beautiful palette is captured affectively on this month’s Masters Of Cinema edition of the movie. The disc is also accompanied by a number of satisfying supplements, including a very informative video piece by film historian Sheldon Hall, and an episode of the American Film Institute’s The Directors series dedicated to Pollack, which serves as a fantastic overview of the great Hollywood filmmaker’s eclectic career.