Blu-ray Review HTF Blu-ray Review: 3 Days of the Condor.

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by PatWahlquist, May 13, 2009.

  1. PatWahlquist

    PatWahlquist Supporting Actor

    Jun 13, 2002
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    3 Days of the Condor (Blu-Ray)

    Studio: Paramount Home Video
    Rated: R
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    HD Encoding: 1080p
    HD Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
    Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; French Mono
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; English SDH+
    Time: 117 minutes
    Disc Format: 1 SS/DL BD 50
    Case Style: Keep case
    Theatrical Release Date: 1975
    Blu-ray Release Date: May 19, 2009

    Paranoia was all the rage in post-Watergate 1975, and director Sydney Pollack and screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr. adapted James Grady’s novel Six Days of the Condor as the movie 3 Days of the Condor Robert Redford stars as Joe Turner, a self-professed, “…guy who just reads books…”, but the material he is reading may contain codes, plans or schemes of un-American interests. He works for a CIA fronted company in an unassuming brownstone, but inside, various high tech (for 1975) computers translate and scan books and documents for the aforementioned purposes. As Joe heads out to lunch one day, the entire office staff is gunned down and killed. He returns to the office and decides he needs to call into the agency for further help. He is codenamed “Condor” and while he speaks to the agency, he gets the feeling he too may be in danger, so he takes off to solve this potential life threatening situation.

    Joe agrees to meet with an agent, but only if there is someone he trusts with him. This meeting goes horribly wrong and now his suspicions are confirmed- he is a target. He decides to kidnap a random woman, Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway, luminous as ever), and use her apartment and vehicle to help him in his plight. As Joe continues to seek out answers, the ever shifting political landscape only increases his paranoia leaving Joe with few options if he is to stay alive.

    3 Days of the Condor has been praised over the years as a “taught espionage thriller”, and while Pollock’s direction and the editing of the movie keeps things moving, it is hampered by some outlandish plot points. The biggest thing that bothered me was Joe, in an effort to help himself out of this jam, kidnaps a woman to utilize her for a place to stay and her transportation. Kidnapping is a big deal, and it immediately took me out of the movie as I was stunned by the outlandishness of this act. As the movie progresses, Kathy serves no better purpose than to give Redford an equally pretty co-star. Further, Kathy goes on to fall for Joe and assist him in his plight. While I appreciate the romance between the two characters, this classic Stockholm Syndrome case hurts this story. The story is also hampered by the all too quick dialogue that gives you barely enough information to understand what’s going on without any elaboration. It’s convoluted to say the least. We are also left with a somewhat ambiguous ending, a “did he or didn’t he” scenario, which in this case hurts the picture as we are now almost as clueless as Condor’s boss.

    There are some good points to the picture, too. Redford is excellent in a role that seems more like an indie character piece for him, and Dunaway supports him in fine fashion regardless of her role in the plot. Pollock’s slick use of editing, as well as a very un-assuming score by Dave Grusin, maintains an air of suspense and tension. I only wish I could invest myself deep enough in the picture to really care if Condor made it the three days.

    Movie: **/*****

    Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment.

    The Blu-ray disc is encoded in the MPEG-4 AVC codec at 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The image looks quite good for its vintage, with rich and accurate colors and flesh tones. It maintains an acceptable limit of grain, enough to make me think I was watching a film. Black levels were deep showing good detail. Sharpness is soft but again, this contributes to a more film-like look. Detail is quite good and I could make out some of the background items in the offices at the beginning of the movie, and distinctions in the patterns of the heavy clothing. Edge enhancement is noticeable occasionally, as is minor print dirt.

    Video: ***/*****

    The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI.

    I watched the disc with the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track engaged. The track sits squarely in the fronts and I heard nary a surround sound. The movie does not need a big, 5.1 sound, but I would at least like some bleed to the backs to give us some type of surround experience. What is there stays in the mid-ranges never dropping low enough to activate my subs. Dave Grusin’s score sounds great here regardless of the rest of the soundtrack. The track is clean and free from any dirt, hiss or distortion.

    Audio: **/*****

    Bonus Material: the only piece is a Theatrical Trailer (in HD).

    Bonus Material: .5/*****

    What has been praised by many left me flat, unfortunately. The disc itself gives us a nice looking video transfer, but a weak audio track and next to zero extras.
  2. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

    Apr 19, 2000
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    Gotta disagree - there's some surround material. For instance, a helicopter even offers some split surround info...

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