A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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