Three Days of the Condor
Three Days of the Condor poster
Directed by: Sydney Pollack
Produced by: Stanley Schneider
Written by: Lorenzo Semple Jr, and David Rayfiel.
Cast: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow, Cliff Robertson
Runtime: 117 mins.
Country: USA
Language: English
Ratings: US:Rating R; Australia:M

Three Days of the Condor is a 1975 film produced by Stanley Schneider and directed by Sydney Pollack. The story, written by Lorenzo Semple, Jr., is adapted from the novel Six Days of the Condor by James Grady.

The movie is a suspense drama set in contemporary New York City, and is considered an exposition of the moral ambiguity of the actions of the United States government following the Vietnam War and Watergate. It stars Robert Redford as an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency who inadvertently becomes involved in a deadly power struggle within the agency.

Three Days of the Condor is widely regarded as one of the best movies in the conspiracy thriller genre. The film was nominated for the 1976 Academy Award for Film Editing.


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

Joe Turner (Redford) is a CIA employee who works in a clandestine office in New York City. He is not a field agent, and indeed is disdainful of Agency discipline; his job is to read books, newspapers, and magazines from around the world looking for hidden elaborations of known CIA operations. One day, when he should be in the office, he slips out a basement entrance for lunch. In his absence a group of armed men, led by an assassin later identified as Joubert (Max von Sydow), gains entrance to the office and kills everyone there. Turner returns, realizes he is in grave danger, and telephones a phone number at CIA headquarters he has been given for emergencies.

When he phones in (and remembers to give his code name "Condor"), he is placed under the direction of Higgins, a top level agent (Cliff Robertson). Higgins directs Turner to keep quiet and they will send an agent out named Wicks to "bring him in" to protection.

Wicks brings an old friend of Turner's (Sam) to help put him at ease. But, during the rendezvous, Wicks (who is part of the conspiracy) tries to shoot Turner. In the exchange, Turner shoots Wicks, who just before collapsing shoots Sam; Turner escapes with his life. Now realizing that he cannot trust anyone within the CIA, Turner calls in again and now begins to play a cat-and-mouse game with Higgins.

Turner now sets off to solve the mystery of the killings on his own. Needing to escape pursuit and avoid places he usually goes, he enters a clothing boutique, where he later follows a woman, Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway), outside. He uses his gun to take her hostage, and makes her take him home to her apartment. He holds her prisoner while he attempts to figure out the mystery.

Eventually Hale is convinced that he deserves her cooperation; the gun is put away, and they make love (the scene was controversial for its sexually explicit content at the time). She goes on to help him briefly kidnap Higgins to get information from him.

Using his previous experience as a telephone technician, Turner is able to track down Joubert and begins to discern that a rogue presence inside CIA ("A CIA within the CIA") is conducting top secret and nonstandard covert operations. At one point he comes face-to-face with Joubert again, but escapes another attempt on his life. In fact, it is often Turner's inexperience in the field that leads his pursuers to misjudge him and allows him to continue to elude them.

He learns that Joubert was hired by the rogue element in the CIA to kill all the people in the New York office because they had stumbled on one of the rogue element's plots to invade the Middle East during an oil crisis.

He tracks down the mastermind of the covert operation in his home outside Washington, D.C. and breaks into his house to wake him up. While confronting him, however, Joubert arrives and kills the CIA mastermind, but tells Turner that he is not interested in killing him anymore, since the contract has changed. He tries to convince Turner to become like him, a man who plays for both sides, but Turner says he likes living in the United States too much.

Turner goes back to New York and meets Higgins on the street. Higgins tells Turner that eventually they will catch up to him. Turner says he told the press "a story" (they are standing outside the New York Times office), but Higgins says, "How do you know they'll print it?" Turner answers, "They'll print it," and starts to walk away into the crowd. "You can take a walk, but how far if they don't print it?" Higgins says. Turner stops walking, with a look of panic on his face. This is when the movie ends.

Cast members (partial)Edit

Selected quotesEdit

  • "Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?" - Robert Redford as Joe Turner.

Spoilers end here.


  • A sample of dialogue from Three Days of the Condor was used in the Radiohead song "Fitter Happier."
  • The wristwatch that Robert Redford wears in this film is a Doxa Sub600t Sharkhunter.
  • The King of the Hill episode "Three Days of the Kahndo" (1998) derives its name from the film.
  • The Simpsons episode "Three Gays of the Condo" (2003) also derives its name from the film.

See alsoEdit

Three Days of the Condor at the Internet Movie Database