Three Days of the Condor

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Three Days of the Condor is a 1975 film about a bookish CIA researcher who finds all his colleagues dead, and must outwit those responsible until he figures out who he can really trust.

Directed by Sydney Pollack, story and screenplay by James Grady, Lorenzo Semple Jr., and David Rayfiel, based on the novel Six Days of the Condor by James Grady.
His code name is Condor. In the next seventy-two hours, everyone he trusts will target him for death.taglines


[Turner is repairing some computer equipment.]
Dr. Lappe: We have people to service these machines.
Turner: These things are really pretty simple — they just look complicated.
Dr. Lappe: Mr. Turner, I wonder if you're… entirely happy here.
Turner: Within obvious limits, yes sir.
Dr. Lappe: Obvious limits?
Turner: It bothers me that I can't tell people what I do.
Dr. Lappe: Why is it taking you so long to accept that?
Turner: Well, I actually trust a few people. That's a problem.

Wabash: [after the botched attempt to come in from the field] The question was, Mr. Higgins, is he qualified with a handgun?
Higgins: No handgun, sir. M-1 rifle and carbine. Evidently, it was sheer luck. Or else--
Atwood: Or else what, Mr. Higgins?
Higgins: This Condor isn't the man his file says he is.
Atwood: Where did he learn evasive moves?
Higgins: He reads.
Atwood: What the hell does that mean?
Higgins: It means, sir, that he reads everything.
Atwood: But I don't understand.
Wabash: Yes. Very good. Has operations got anything?
Atwood: Absolutely nothing, sir.
Wabash: Extraordinary.
Atwood: It was very well executed.
Wabash: Which requires planning, communications, tracks. I'm not asking for footprints, but a blade of grass, a broken twig-- Something disturbed.
Atwood: Yes, sir. Wicks seems to be all we've got.
Wabash: Where do we have him?
Higgins: We don't. They rushed him to Guvenor Emergency before we got word.
Atwood: Maybe we should leak the name of the hospital, make Condor make his move.
Wabash: Of course, Len, don't expect too many mistakes from this man. He does seem rather more interesting than just another of our reader/researchers. For example, has he gone into business for himself? Was he turned around? Does someone operate him? Homosexual? Broke? Vulnerable? Could he be a soldier of fortune? Did he arrange the hit? Is that why he's still in flight? Still, he... may be an innocent. But then, why didn't he come in gently with Mr. Wicks?

Kathy: I'm scared!
Turner: So am I!
Kathy: Why? You've got the gun!
Turner: Yes! Yeah, and it's not enough. Listen. I work for the CIA. I'm not a spy. I just read books. We read everything that's published in the world, and we-- we feed the plots-- dirty tricks, codes into a computer, and the computer checks against actual CIA plans and operations. I look for leaks, new ideas. We read adventures and novels and journals. I-- I can-Who'd invent a job like that? I-- Listen! People are trying to kill me!
Kathy: Who?
Turner: I don't know, but there's a reason. There is a reason! And I just need some safe, quiet time to pull things together.
Kathy: Here.
Turner: Here.
Kathy: That's only fair.

Atwood: That includes Condor, of course.
Joubert: Yes. I owe you Condor.
Atwood: Otherwise...
Joubert: Otherwise does not exist.
Atwood: Will Condor take long?
Joubert: Do you want an estimate?
Atwood: There is a time factor.
Joubert: Always with you people. [pause] Condor is an amateur. He's lost, unpredictable, perhaps even sentimental. He could fool a professional. Not deliberately, but precisely because he is lost, doesn't know what to do. Unlike Wicks, who has always been entirely predictable. [pause] The man Condor killed in the alley...
Atwood: Some friend of his.
Joubert: Close friend?
Atwood: I suppose. Why?
Joubert: It interests me. What was his name?
Atwood: I don't know. He was nobody.
Joubert: [in French, as they pass other people] Right.
Atwood: [in French] What about Wicks?
Joubert: You want the firm to question him? They will, you know.
Atwood: We don't want that.
Joubert: Cost you nothing. I was careless with Condor. Wicks will be done for nothing.

Kathy: You're not entitled to personal questions! That gun gives you the right to rough me up; it doesn't give you the right to ask me...
Turner: Wh- wh- Rough you up? Have I roughed you up?
Kathy: Yes! What are you doing in my house?
Turner: Have I? Have I?
Kathy: Going through all my stuff? Force...
Turner: Have I raped you?
Kathy: The night is young.

Turner: You're funny. You take pictures of empty streets and trees with no leaves on them.
Kathy: It's winter.
Turner: Not quite winter. They look like November. Not autumn, not winter. In-between. I like them.
Kathy: Thanks.

Turner: Listen, I'll be going in the morning.
Kathy: Where? Was it all right?
Turner: All right?
Kathy: Outside-- Was it safe? Wherever you went.
Turner: Oh. I'm not sure.
Kathy: Oh, God. I wish I knew more. About you, yesterday, today…
Turner: I don't remember yesterday. Today it rained.

Kathy: Sometimes, I— I take a picture that… isn't like me, but I took it, so it is like me. It has to be. I put those pictures away.
Turner: I'd like to see those pictures.
Kathy: We don't know each other that that well.
Turner: Do you know anybody that well?
Kathy: I don't think I want to know you very well. I don't think you're gonna live much longer.
Turner: Well, I may… surprise you. Anyway, you're not telling the truth.
Kathy: What do you mean?
Turner: You'd rather be with somebody who's not going to live much longer, at least somebody who would be on his way.
Kathy: I'm not--
Turner: You take pictures. Beautiful pictures, but of empty streets and trees with no leaves--November. Why haven't you asked me to untie your hands?
Kathy: H-How much do you want...
Turner: I just...want to stop it. For a few hours. For the rest of the night. And then I'll go.

Turner: I've got a plan. I don't know if it'll work or not, but I'll need your help.
Kathy: Have I ever denied you anything?
Turner: Hey.
Kathy: Well, when things quiet're really a very sweet man to be with. You had bad dreams. Talked in your sleep.
Turner: What did I say?
Kathy: Who's Janice? [no answer] Well, was she a volunteer or a draftee like me?
Turner: She was...a friend. She's dead.
Kathy: Do I have permission to take a shower?
Turner: You don't have to help, you know.
Kathy: No, I'll help. You can always depend on the old spyfucker.
Turner: [hurt] O.K.
Kathy: I'm sorry.
Turner: No.
Kathy: No, I didn't mean--I didn't mean to say that. I'm really sorry. I'd like to help you.

Turner: Somebody or something is rotten in the company.
Higgins: You never complained till yesterday.
Turner: You didn't start killing my friends till yesterday.
Higgins: [about Kathy] Who's she?
Turner: Who hit the Lit Society?
Higgins: We had a big meeting about that. Your name came up.
Turner: Five Continents Imports. Ring a bell?
Higgins: Where'd you get that?
Turner: The mailman.
Higgins: Mailman?
Turner: The one you sent. With the uniform, pouch, automatic gun.
Higgins: We never use mailmen.
Turner: Are you also familiar with a tall gentleman, 6' 4", blonde hair, strong like a farmer, not American, has an accent. Country. Towards Germany, maybe Alsace-Lorraine.
Higgins: I want to see that report, Turner.
Turner: No, no.. Higgins. C'mon! ..Do you know him?
Higgins: Professionally, yes.
Turner: Professionally, he kills people.
Higgins: Yes. Yes.
Turner: He works for the company?
Higgins: He did once. He's a contract agent.
Turner: Contract agent.
Higgins: Freelance. Where did you see him?
Turner: Uh-uh.
Higgins: It would help if I knew.
Turner: Who would it help? Who'd hire him now?
Higgins: Anybody.
Turner: Terrific answer.
Higgins: I wouldn't accept it, either.
Turner: What's his name?
Higgins: When I knew him, Joubert.
Turner: Come on, Higgins. Who'd hire him? You don't look up Joubert in the yellow pages.
Higgins: That's right. It'd have to be somebody in the community.
Turner: Community?
Higgins: Intelligence field.
Turner: Community! Jesus, you guys are kind to yourselves. Community.
Higgins: I want to see that report, Turner.
Turner: That report was sent to headquarters and disappeared.
Higgins: Who read it?
Turner: You mean besides Wicks? You tell me. I pick up traces of what I think's an intelligence network the company doesn't know about, and I report it. Now, why is that going to make anybody mad, Higgins? Unless it was the company's network and you didn't want it blown, not even to your own guys. Unless somebody is lying. Come on. Why is everybody so shy?
Higgins: I'm not shy. I don't know. That's what worries me. I don't know.
Turner: Ask Wicks.
Higgins: Wicks died. Someone yanked him off the life support system at Guvenor Hospital.
Turner: Get me in, Higgins.
Higgins: What good would that do if you're right, and they are inside? What good would it do to bring you in?
Turner: What am I supposed to do?
Higgins: I'm sorry.
Turner: You're sorry? You're sorry. Oh, I get it. I get it. You expect me to draw fire, like one of those penny arcade bears that parades back and forth waiting for somebody, somebody very good just to take another shot, and you're just gonna hang around and pick him up before he does it? Or just after?
Higgins: I'll try and find out what's going on; I'm gonna cross-check all those names...
Turner: Nice talking to you, Higgins.
Higgins: Now wait a minute.
Turner: Have a nice day.
Higgins: Where will I find you?
Turner: I'll find you.

Kathy: [about Higgins] Do you trust him?
Turner: [shakes his head] Trust.
Kathy: Does he trust you?
Turner: He's in the suspicion business. He can't trust anybody.
Kathy: But they all are. How could anybody sneak in and fool them?
Turner: Maybe nobody did.
Kathy: Then--
Turner: Maybe there's another CIA...inside the CIA.

Higgins: You served with Col. Donovan in the OSS, didn't you, sir?
Wabash: I sailed the Adriatic with a movie star at the helm. It doesn't seem like much of a war now, but it was. I go even further back than that. Ten years after The Great War, as we used to call it. Before we knew enough to number them.
Higgins: You miss that kind of action, sir?
Wabash: No, I miss that kind of clarity.

[Turner and Kathy say their goodbyes at a train station.]
Kathy: You… you have a lot of very fine qualities. But…
Turner: What fine qualities?
Kathy: You have good eyes. Not kind, but… they don't lie, and they don't look away much, and they don't miss anything. I could use eyes like that.
Turner: But you're overdue in Vermont. [pauses] Is he a tough guy?
Kathy: He's pretty tough.
Turner: What will he do?
Kathy: Understand, probably.
Turner: Boy. That is tough.

Atwood: [after discovering Turner in his home] What is this? What’s going on?
Turner: [points a gun at him] Who are you? Who are you?
Atwood: What are you doing here?
Turner: I’m Condor. Sit down. What do you do for a living?
Atwood: Don't be ridiculous.
Turner: What do you do...exactly?
Atwood: Deputy Director of Operations.
Turner: What section?
Atwood: Middle East.
Turner: What are you working on? What are you doing? What's the secret worth murdering everybody at the A.L.H.S. house?
Atwood: There's no secret.
Turner: Wicks showed you my report.
Atwood: What report? [Turner slams his chair] Yes.
Turner: It was your network I turned up. Doing what? Doing what? What does Operations care about a bunch of goddamn books? A book in Dutch. A book out of Venezuela. Mystery stories in Arabic.
Atwood: Wait!
Turner: What the hell is so important about... [He stops as he sees the connection] Oil fields. Oil. That's it, isn't it? This whole damn thing was about oil! Wasn't it? Wasn't it?
Atwood: Yes, it was.

Joubert: This move was predictable.
[Joubert suddenly kills Atwood]
Turner: What? What?
Joubert: Did you touch anything besides the chair?
Turner: You’re working for the Company again.
Joubert: The desk? The lamp?
Turner: Jesus, they took you back.
Joubert: Just for this. For Atwood.
Turner: How…he’s with the Company. Why?
Joubert: I don't interest myself in "why". I think more often in terms of "when", sometimes "where"; always "how much." I suspect he was about to become an embarrassment. As you are.
Turner: So you're not finished.
Joubert: Pardon? Oh, no. I have no arrangement with the Company concerning you. They didn't know you'd be here. I knew you'd be here.
Turner: But didn’t you send the mailman?
Joubert: That was a business arrangement with Mr. Atwood, but… [indicating Atwood’s body] you see?

Joubert: Can I drop you?
Turner: I'd like to go back to New York.
Joubert: You have not much future there. It will happen this way. You may be walking. Maybe the first sunny day of the spring. And a car will slow beside you, and a door will open, and someone you know, maybe even trust, will get out of the car. And he will smile, a becoming smile. But he will leave open the door of the car and offer to give you a lift.
Turner: You seem to understand it all so well. What would you suggest?
Joubert: Personally, I prefer Europe.
Turner: Europe?
Joubert: Yes. Well, the fact is, what I do is not a bad occupation. Someone is always willing to pay.
Turner: I would find it… tiring.
Joubert: Oh, no — it's quite restful. It's… almost peaceful. No need to believe in either side, or any side. There is no cause. There's only yourself. The belief is in your own precision.
Turner: I was born in the United States, Joubert. I miss it when I'm away too long.
Joubert: A pity.
Turner: I don't think so. Is it any trouble to drop me at the Union Station?
Joubert: Oh, no. It would be my pleasure. [pauses, then holds out a gun to Turner] For that day.

Higgins: Turner. Why'd you call so late? We were worried about you.
Turner: Likewise. The car for me?
Higgins: It's all right. It's safe. You'll have a few hours of debriefing.
Turner: Hey, Higgins? Let's say, for the purposes of argument, I had a .45 in one of my pockets, and I wanted you to take a walk with me, you'd do it, right?
Higgins: Which way?

Turner: Do we have plans to invade the Middle East?
Higgins: Are you crazy?
Turner: Am I?
Higgins: Look, Turner…
Turner: Do we have plans?
Higgins: No. Absolutely not. We have games. That's all. We play games. That’s all. We play games. What if? How many men? What would it take? Is there a cheaper way to destabilize a regime? That's what we're paid to do.
Turner: Walk on. Go on. So Atwood just took the games too seriously. He was really going to do it, wasn't he?
Higgins: A renegade operation. Atwood knew 54/12 would never authorize it. There was no way, not with the heat on the company.
Turner: What if there hadn't been any heat? Suppose I hadn't stumbled on their plan? Suppose nobody had?
Higgins: Different ballgame. Fact is, there was nothing wrong with the plan. Oh, the plan was all right, the plan would've worked.
Turner: Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?
Higgins: No. It's simple economics. Today it's oil, right? In ten or fifteen years, food. Plutonium. And maybe even sooner. Now, what do you think the people are gonna want us to do then?
Turner: Ask them.
Higgins: Not now — then! Ask 'em when they're running out. Ask 'em when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask 'em when their engines stop. Ask 'em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won't want us to ask 'em. They'll just want us to get it for 'em!
Turner: Boy, have you found a home. There were seven people killed, Higgins.
Higgins: The company didn't order it.
Turner: Atwood did. Atwood did. And who the hell is Atwood? He's you. He's all you guys. Seven people killed, and you play fucking games!
Higgins: Right. And the other side does too. That's why we can't let you stay outside.

Turner: Well, go on home, Higgins. Go on. They've got it.
Higgins: What?
[they stop down the street from The New York Times]
Turner: You know where we are. Just look around. They've got it. That's where they ship from. They've got all of it.
Higgins: What? What did you do?
Turner: I told them a story. You play games; I told 'em a story.
Higgins: Oh, you… you poor, dumb son of a bitch. You've done more damage than you know.
Turner: I hope so.
Higgins: You're about to be a very lonely man. It didn't have to end this way.
Turner: Of course it did. [walks away]
Higgins: Hey Turner! How do you know they'll print it? You can take a walk… but how far if they don't print it?
Turner: They'll print it.
Higgins: How do you know?


  • His code name is Condor. In the next seventy-two hours, everyone he trusts will target him for death.
  • The CIA knows him as Condor. What he knows about them has just made him a very endangered species.


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