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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

3 Days of the Condor [Blu-ray]

 

(Sidney Pollack, 1975)

 

1) Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - LEFT

2) Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

3) Masters of Cinema - Spine #128 Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

UK Optimum Blu-ray Edition

German Kinowelt Blu-ray Edition:

Studio Canal Blu-ray in France:

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

ADDITION: Masters of Cinema - Spine # 128 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray April 2016 - Comments in YELLOW!  / ' Optimum / Kinowelt - Studio Canal Collection - Region A + B Blu-ray - September 2010': Studio Canal Collection comments are in GREEN!

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Stanley Schneider

Video: Paramount Home Entertainment + Studio Canal Collection + Masters of Cinema - Spine # 128 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

Disc:

Region: ALL / Studio Canal is Region A + B / Masters of Cinema is Region 'B'(as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player))

Runtime: 1:57:22.994  / 1:57:06.060 / 1:57:19.323

Disc Size: 41,152,097,447 bytes / 34,858,905,147 bytes / 48,308,444,860 bytes

Feature Size: 39,929,874,432 bytes / 26,936,604,672 bytes / 38,369,992,128 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.36 Mbps / 20.95 Mbps / 35.65 Mbps

Chapters: 16 / 16 / 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Custom Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: May 19th, 2009 / September / November 2009 / April 11th, 2016

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video / VC-1 Video / MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Bitrates:

1) Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - TOP

2) Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Spine #128 Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Audio:

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 3085 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3085 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps

 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2006 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2006 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1076 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1076 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1083 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1083 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 904 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 904 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 853 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 853 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 976 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 976 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

 

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3450 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3450 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, none

 

English , Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, none

 

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• Theatrical Trailer in HD

Commentary by Sidney Pollack

CIA Secret Wars - 1947-1977 (53:04 - French + English with subtitles)

Something About Sidney Pollack (59:05)

More About the Condor (24:56)

 

Exclusive new video interview with film historian Sheldon Hall (21:53)
The Directors: Sydney Pollack - A career-spanning appreciation of the director's works (59:46)
Original theatrical trailer (3:04)
32-PAGE BOOKLET featuring a new essay on the film by critic Michael Brooke, an extensive interview with Pollack, and archival images

 

 

Comment:

The story of one man's struggle to learn who are his friends, and who are his enemies?

Robert Redford and director Sydney Pollack teamed up for their third collaboration on Three Days of the Condor, a sinuous tale of deceit and corruption, as well as one of Hollywood's finest conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s.

Redford stars as Joe Turner, a junior analyst in the C.I.A., scrutinising published texts from around the world for coded messages. But once he discovers an unusual anomaly, his own existence comes crashing down, with every error carrying fatal consequences.

Taught and engrossing, with astonishing modern-day relevance, and fabulous supporting turns from Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, John Houseman and the great Max von Sydow.

***

"His code name is Condor. In the next 24 hours, everyone he trusts will try to kill him." As the ads ominously announced, a low-level spook confronts the unfathomable in Sydney Pollack's 1975 political thriller, adapted from the James Grady novel Six Days of the Condor. CIA researcher Joe Turner (Robert Redford) returns from lunch to find the entire staff of his small New York office assassinated. When he meets his boss (Cliff Robertson) at another location to tell him what happened, someone tries to shoot Turner as well. On the run from the cops and his agency, a desperate Turner resorts to holing up with innocent civilian Kathy (Faye Dunaway), who becomes his only ally. Joe decides to save himself the only way possible -- by going to The New York Times. But will it work? One of a cycle of conspiracy films from the 1970s that also included The Parallax View (1974) and Redford's All the President's Men (1976), Three Days of the Condor pits a working everyman (albeit a CIA everyman) against a far-reaching conspiracy, as it also criticizes the CIA during a period of increasing publicity about federal wrongdoing, from the Pentagon Papers through Watergate and other congressional investigations. The challenge of negotiating New York City, shot on location, becomes one more sign of the forces that Joe must face. With its timely subject matter, taut suspense, and sympathetic Redford hero, Three Days of the Condor became a substantial hit. Balancing the conspiracy cycle's pessimism with a margin of attenuated hope, Three Days of the Condor suggests that one man can still discover the truth, but whether it helps him remains to be seen.

 

 

 

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray discs.

While the image may not have the kind of resolution or breadth of contrast we find in a Bourne Ultimatum or Goldfinger, it is nonetheless sharp and fairly immaculate.  I found no obtrusive manipulations or enhancements.  On the contrary, the image is every bit as grainy as it must have been 30-odd years ago. It can tend to look thick but the texture is consistent and benefits the presentation. Colors seem true with acceptable flesh tones but there isn't a lot of dimensionality to the visuals. It has no gloss and the image is clean of dirt and speckles.

The Paramount looks a little crisper to me. Studio Canal came out with a bare-bones HD-DVD of the film and as this is still the same VC-1 encode and the feature size would fit that defunct format assuming it was dual-layered. Colors have some noticeable differences - see below. The Paramount is generally more vibrant and the Studio Canal Collection has some green in it. This is how we saw the disparity in The Graduate - from the US vs. European Blu-rays. The Paramount has a higher bitrate, AVC encode and a larger file size for the feature. I think the Paramount is superior in appearance.

The Masters of Cinema mimics the colors scheme of the Paramount - that we feel is more accurate and it even looks a tad tighter than the US BD. If forced to choose between the three - I'd lean to the UK transfer.

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample Masters of Cinema - Spine #128 Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

1) Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - TOP

2) Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Spine #128 Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - TOP

2) Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Spine #128 Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - TOP

2) Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Spine #128 Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - TOP

2) Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Spine #128 Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - TOP

2) Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Spine #128 Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - TOP

2) Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Spine #128 Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - TOP

2) Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Spine #128 Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - TOP

2) Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Spine #128 Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - TOP

2) Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - TOP

2) Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - TOP

2) Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Audio & Music : 7/8

Condor is a relatively subtle and subdues thriller by today’s standards.  The few times that there is gunfire it is a surprise even though we see it coming.  The uncompressed Dolby TrueHD mix helps put this over.  The attack on the Historical Library is an excellent case in point, as we are carefully suspended in the midst of computer and printer noises between bursts of automatic weapons fire, followed by the falling down a stair or over a desk.  There is a bizarre and very dark humor to these moments that the audio mix does its part to bring off.

 

 

 

Given the choice I will almost always lean to the DTS-HD Master over a TrueHD track. While the TrueHD of the Paramount may be more robust - the SC can seem more resonant in the minimal activity of gunshots and Dave Grusin score. It's a small difference that most wouldn't be concerned over. The European Blu-ray has a some foreign language DUBs and subtitle options. See the initial menu screen:

 

Studio Canal Collection - Region 'A + B' - Blu-ray

 

The MoC is the best technically - 24-bit and more robust and hence has a quality advancement and the option of 5.1 or original - both in lossless. MoC wins this category as well. It also offers optional subtitles (SDH).

Masters of Cinema - Spine #128 Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

Extras :

Zip - aside from an HD trailer.

 

This is where the Studio Canal edition may be of interest to some. Yes, it has the Pollack commentary but I didn't find it a very good one. There are plenty of gaps where he is just watching and when he does interject it is more of a narration of the scene. He does state some production choices but they are few and far between. BUT the video supplements are interesting. The CIA Secret Wars - 1947-1977 is fascinating in French + some English with optional subtitles. It runs about 53-minutes and for those keen on the politics of the CIA from its inception with president Truman till the time of Three Days of the Condor - its well worth the indulgence seeing undercover operations with William Karel. Something About Sidney Pollack is an hour with the director on his routine for film creation starting with the script. There is also More About the Condor - a 25-minute piece with Redford.

 

No commentary but MoC add a new exclusive 22-minute video interview with film historian Sheldon Hall - and I enjoyed it find it revealing. There is also the hour-long The Directors series with Sydney Pollack - examining his career-with interviews of Pollack himself and Charles Durning, Sally Field, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, Cliff Robertson, Meryl Streep etc. There is also an original theatrical trailer and a beautiful 32-page booklet featuring a new essay on the film by critic Michael Brooke, an extensive interview with Pollack, and archival images. Sweet. 

 

 

 

Bottom Line:

Too bad about the lack of extras. I guess Paramount doesn’t think as highly of this movie as I do, since there are no interviews with Dunaway, Redford or Robertson, or a commentary by a film historian. Nevertheless 3 Days of the Condor is a classic of the genre with a special resonance for our times.  The image and audio recover more than I had hoped.  Recommended.

 

This is a great film that I could watch yearly. I think it's an easy choice - for those concerned with the visual quality - I'd lean to the Paramount - but for those keen on supplements the Studio Canal is the way to go. I should note that many systems may not distinguish the two Blu-ray a/v differences enough to make it overly important. Both are consistent which is our greatest desire in a transfer.

 

NOTE: I don't think Optimum officially released this film on Blu-ray at the writing of this review. It can be had from Amazon France (Universal S/C) or Germany (Kinowelt) though. Aside from packaging - it is the exact same transfer.

 

The MoC is the one to get in my opinion - the best a/v presentation and solid extras including the keepsake booklet. I never tire of seeing this film. Strongly recommended!

 

Leonard Norwitz
May 14th, 2009

Gary Tooze

September 27th, 2010

April 2016

 

 

 

UK Optimum Blu-ray Edition

German Kinowelt Blu-ray Edition:

Studio Canal Blu-ray in France:

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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