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Blu-Ray Review: Kino Lorber’s Three Days of the Condor (KL Studio Classics)

Three Days of the Condor

Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway star in arguably the best Political Thriller ever made.  Three Days of the Condor comes to Blu-ray with a new 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative and extras from Kino Lorber.  

The Film 

Three Days of the Condor remains one of the superior paranoid political thrillers of the 1970s.  This is an era that counts some of the very best thrillers ever produced.  Though Parallax ViewAll the President’s MenThe Marathon Man, and others do not have the pop that Condor does.  None feel as fresh and as modern as Condor does five decades on.  

Part of the brilliance of the film is that everything is underplayed.  There is rarely an overheated moment.  Even the action scenes are played with a subdued distance that never feels slow or counterinitiative to the tense and terse plot of the film. Pollack’s direction accentuates the tension throughout. His focus on the smaller details gives one the sense this is really happening.  

It helps that Pollack cast arguably the best movie star ever to grace the silver screen in Robert Redford.  Condor is Redford in the prime of his career and the prime of his powers as a performer.  One would think that a film like this would not put Redford’s power as a star to the test but so much of the film is about silence, reaction, and behavior.  One just needs to watch the elevator scene between Redford and Max von Sydow.  The way there is little said but the volumes that are spoken speaks to these two acting titans facing off in the subtlest of ways but speaks larger to how great the film is. 

The film is so adroitly made that one believes everything that happens including the “romance” between Redford and Faye Dunaway – the least believable aspect of the film.  It’s Pollack’s insistence on complexity in character, world, and relationships that makes not just the romance but all aspects of Three Days of the Condor so urgent and compelling.  Even today fifty years later it stands as not just one of the best political thrillers but one of the best films ever produced.  

The Transfer

The Brand New 2023 HD Master – From a 2023 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative is another winner from KL and Paramount.  The widescreen image is sharp, crisp, and colorful in a way that many 1970s thrillers aren’t.  The subtle contrast levels and black detail – which thankfully doesn’t crush the blacks in any way. Kino has pushed the limitations of what’s possible with a Blu-ray transfer.  One will be shocked at how great it looks on Blu-ray.  KL has produced a 4K UHD with Dolby Vision.  

The Extras

They include the following;

  • NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Audio Commentary by Director Sydney Pollack
  • Something About Sydney Pollack: 2004 Documentary 
  • More About the Condor: 2003 Featurette 
  • Theatrical Trailers

The first track is an all-new Audio Commentary by Film Historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson opens with both discussing this being a great film but one of their favorites.  Some of the other details include Pollack’s wanting to do this project “for fun” but how quickly it turned to “work” very quickly; the reasons why this film has endured and still feel fresh and modern; a discussion of Lorenzo Simple Jr’s drafts and how they differed from Pollack and Rayfiel’s draft; the original director of the film Peter Yates and the original casted lead Warren Beatty; a personal account of the filming of the movie by Mitchell; an account of the production itself with producer Dino DeLaurentis; Pollack’s approach to directing the film – quotes from a Film Comment interview with the director; the work of Owen Roizman and Pollack’s use of Panavision and the widescreen during the 1970s; how VHS and “pan and scan” made him change from widescreen; Redford producing All the President’s Men at the same time and how that created tension between he and Pollack; the various casting “what if’s” – based off of Pollack’s papers, which they researched; the work and career of Redford; the work of Faye Dunaway and a larger discussion of her protection of her image a nudity clause within her contract – also a great anecdote about Pollack getting to jolt her during the apartment scene with Redford; the way that Pollack delivers the action in the film; the work of here and in his career Max von Sydow; the test screening process for this film; a larger discussion throughout the track about of the various New York Actors that were cast including various details about their career;  a larger discussion throughout the track about of the various locations in New York – which always leads to interesting anecdotes; and more.  Mitchell and Thompson deliver another winning track that’s a great mixture of informational (with some great quotes from various sources), anecdotal, and personal.  

The second Audio Commentary is by the late great Director Sydney Pollack, opens with the director discussing the “outdated” font that was used in the opening title sequence and the “outdated” tech.  Some of the other details include the use of Dave Grusin’s score that was used by News Organizations; the opening moments and the importance of setting up Redfrod’s characters; connections to John le Carre; the development of the script and adaptation of the book – including how he and David Rayfiel approached the various challenges faced into turning into a great film; the casting and work of Max Von Sydow; how they approached the assassinations of Redford’s character’s co-workers; the work of Faye Dunaway – a larger discussion of the relationship between her and Redford in the film; and much more.  Pollack delivers a truly great commentary track that’s filled with the kind of information that you want from a commentary track from one of the legends.  The only minor complaint is that there is a fair decent amount of silence.  

Something About Sydney Pollack: 2004 Documentary (59:05) – This isn’t a making-of featurette but rather a documentary specifically about Pollack and his filmography.  It stars Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack as they discuss Pollack’s career from their perspectives.  Through this back-and-forth style, we get a picture of both men but specifically Pollack.  Using not only the two creative’s comments but behind-the-scenes photos, and scenes from Pollack’s work the doc is one of the truly great special features of the golden era of DVD special features.  The documentary covers up to 2004 as the director is in the middle of pre-production of The Interpreter.

More About the Condor: 2003 Featurette (24:56) – culled from the footage used to create Something About Sydney Pollack is an extended version of the section about Three Days of the Condor in that documentary.  Like the other documentary, the featurette is one of the best works of the golden era of DVD Special features.  Redford and Pollack are counterpoints going back and forth about the making of this classic political thriller.  There isn’t anything that isn’t covered in the 25-minute featurette from development, the work done by the various actors, production, post-production, and the release of the film.  

Round out the special features are trailers for Three Days of the Condor (3:05), Indecent Proposal (2:15), The Thomas Crown Affair (2:05), Needful Things (2:01), Malone (2:00), The Interpreter (2:26), The Groundstar Conspiracy (2:37), The Eiger Sanction (2:50), Marathon Man (2:39) 

The Final Thought 

Kino Lorber continues to release the very best editions of films.  Three Days of the Condor is no exception – coming with insightful extras.  Highest possible recommendations!! 

Kino Lorber’s Blu-Ray edition of Three Days of the Condor is out now.  

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