He created a highly enjoyable quasi-classic comedy with Tootsie, but director Sydney Pollack rarely dined (as Woody Allen said of humorists) at the children’s table. Grown-up fare was his wont — stories of star-crossed lovers and political intrigue — in a career spanning nearly a half-century behind and in front of the camera. (For proof of his acting bona fides, check out Woody’s Husbands and Wives. And he is by far the best thing about Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.)
With the sad news of Pollack’s passing this week came an urge to revisit his underrated Three Days of the Condor. Released during the hump year (’75) of the greatest decade of cinema, Condor tapped into a Watergate/Vietnam-inspired distrust of everyone and everything. Robert Redford plays a spook whose job consists of reading books — not a bad life, until all his office mates are liquidated. A subplot involving plans to invade the Middle East (hmmm — for oil) gives this paranoid classic an eerie resonance, as does Pollack’s idea of where to house New York’s CIA station. He wanted the agency to be anonymous, to hide in plain sight. He chose the brand-new Twin Towers.
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