Three Days of the Condor
By Andrea Beach,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Tense, violent '70s spy movie shows its age.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Conspiracies within governmental agencies are broad and far-reaching, and trust in government institutions is disappearing. We must demand truth and transparency, but it may already be too late.
Positive Role Models
Joe Turner is very smart and has learned a great deal from reading books. He's brave and resourceful, and he won't stop digging until he gets to the truth. Kathy Hale is an independent, artistic type but mostly is a helpful doormat who's there to add romantic interest. Turner's colleagues are congenial bookworms and include an Asian-American woman on equal footing with her male colleagues. Everyone in authority in the government is hiding something and probably involved in the conspiracy.
Violence & Scariness
Many people are assassinated with machine guns, most with small amounts of blood showing. One gunshot wound to the throat with some blood. One execution by pistol shot to the head, off camera and with some blood. A fight with kicking, punching, and beating. Rape mentioned. Injuries from a murder discussed in context of solving the crime.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple undresses, caresses, and kisses in bed. They have sex but nothing graphic is shown. We see the woman's bra.
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"F--k" and "f--ker," "son of a bitch."
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Products & Purchases
A few dated products suhc as Yuban coffee and an Eastern Air Lines jet. Prominent shot of Holiday Inn.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The hero doesn't smoke, but many adults do. A character mentions having quit a few years ago but starts again.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Three Days of the Condor is a fairly quiet, tense spy thriller from acclaimed director Sydney Pollack. Released when the nation's wounds from the Watergate scandal and Nixon's resignation were still fresh, the movie was shocking at the time; today's more jaded audience is less likely to get emotionally involved when the far-reaching-conspiracy premise isn't surprising anymore. Violence includes a lot of murder and assassination with guns that mostly show small amounts of blood without other gore, although one gunshot in the throat is shown. Language is infrequent but strong, including "f--k" and "son of a bitch." One sex scene shows kissing, caressing, and the woman's bra briefly.
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Three Days of the Condor
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What's the Story?
When bookish CIA analyst Joe Turner (Robert Redford) returns to the office from lunch in THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, he finds every one of his colleagues dead. He has a code name, Condor, but he's never spent any time in the field. On his own and with only his book-smarts to rely on, Turner has to find out what happened and why. Still a target of the assassin, Turner hides out in photographer Kathy Hale's (Faye Dunaway) apartment while he tries to put the pieces together. Each new bit of information points to a vast conspiracy, one that the CIA will do anything to keep covered up. How long can Turner last before those who want him eliminated catch up?
Is It Any Good?
This is a tense, quiet spy thriller that's more about trying to piece together the mystery than it is about action. Director Sydney Pollack keeps the audience as in the dark as the hero is, and as a result it can be hard to follow at times. People appear talking quietly and cryptically without it even being clear who exactly they are. It's an effective way of keeping the viewer as off-balance as the Condor and is best appreciated by those who are tired of movies that spoon-feed plot and motivation.
Otherwise, the appeal of Three Days of the Condor to teens is limited. A large part of what allowed contemporary audiences to emotionally engage in the film at the time was a newly discovered horror of the depths to which government institutions will sink to protect themselves. For today's audience, that's pretty much a given. Which leaves Redford's magnetism (as evident as ever, despite this not being his strongest performance), the mystery to solve, and some entertaining glimpses of mid-'70s technology. A fine choice for teens with an interest in this particular time in history but not for those who just want a roller coaster ride.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why spy movies like Three Days of the Condor are so popular. Why do we love them so much?
What are some of your favorite spy movies? How does this one compare?
How would Three Days of the Condor be different if it were made today? Is it a story that could only take place in 1975, or would it work in today's world?
- In theaters: September 24, 1975
- On DVD or streaming: August 17, 1999
- Cast: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway
- Director: Sydney Pollack
- Studios: Dino De Laurentiis Company, Paramount Pictures, Wildwood Enterprises
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: History
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- Last updated: April 27, 2023
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