Three Days Of The Condor (1975)
Music By Dave Grusin
Film Score Monthly FSM1503
Also Includes “The Friends of Eddie Coyle”
(Score Portion): 20 Tracks – Disc Time: 44:00
32 Tracks – Disc Time: 72:03 Grade: A
Three Days of the Condor is one of the more seminal and engaging action-thrillers of the 1970’s that still holds up to this very day and thensome. Based on the novel by James Grady, the film stars Robert Redford as Joe Turner, a CIA bookworm who seems to have stumbled upon a plot with in the CIA itself regarding a book that has sold well, but has been translated into several languages. Soon Turner’s colleagues are assassinated by a freelance assassin (Max Von Sydow) and soon he is on the run without anyone to trust and enlists the help of a photographer Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway), whom he’s forced to kidnap in order figure who and why they want him killed. A seemingly friendly CIA director (Cliff Robertson) tries to provide Turner all the help he needs but will Turner live to uncover the truth behind the murders. The film was directed by the late Sydney Pollack with masterful precision and great performances that is still revered as one of the classics of the thriller genre.
Helping the movie’s fast paced and thrilling suspense is the work of Academy Award winner and legendary jazz musician Dave Grusin. Grusin, was just starting to become a formidable voice in film scoring just his career as jazz musician and producer was already at the superstar level performing with the likes of Brenda Lee, Andy Williams and other jazz superstars like Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan and Quincy Jones among others. The approach that Grusin took with the score for Condor isn’t the typical suspense thriller score that you usually heard around that period of time with hammering piano and heavy percussion. This score leans more towards Grusin’s jazz sensitivities as a composer as well as some unique takes on suspense. The score I’m really happy to say works on both parts and really drives the film through it’s leasurely paced running time.
When the film was released, Capitol Records released a 28 minute album that Grusin himself meticulously put together and is one of the best albums released from that era. The album which is replicated on this expanded release features the best of the score proper which begins with the “Condor!” (Theme From 3 Days of the Condor” which a breezy smooth jazz piece augmented by a Hungarian cymbalom and cool electronics. This piece has become one of Grusin’s more popular and memorable themes which has been re-recorded by him and many jazz artists ever since. Another memorable theme that emerged from this score and also a popular rre-recorded piece is “Goodbye for Kathy” a wonderful romantic piece of smooth jazz which is the love theme for Redford and Dunaway’s characters. A sultry saxophone solo by Tom Scott fuels the passion which also given important subtle prominance in the shortened version of the theme in “Spies of A Feather, Flocking Together (Love Theme From 3 Days of the Condor) which is the film version of this great piece. Fun jazzy suspense emerges in “Yellow Panic” and “Flashback To Terror” which features some of guitarist Lee Ritenour cool and funky guitar effects along woodwinds and flutes.
What makes this new release so special is the wealth of new material that was missing from the original album that now makes its long awaited debut. The music is in keeping with the original album but also keeps the light mood and adds more drama. “We’ll Bring You Home #1 (Joubert Intro)/Heidegger Dead, Parts 1 & 2” introduces the theme for the assassin through a smooth jazz feel with Scott’s saxophone solo giving it a breezy feel. “Carrion Search, Part 2/Higgins’ Caper Part 2/Bell System Blues Parts 1&2” starts out with a dramatic rendering of the Condor suspense theme before giving way to more little jazz with an R&B feel and a cool flute solo, piano and Lee Ritenour’s bluesy guitar end the track with more suspense. “Life And Death Introspection” is a very subtle but dramatic track for vibes, electric piano and strings which is a very vibrant track and very thematic. “End Title (Condor!)” is the full statement of the score’s main theme as it’s featured in the film and more dramatic and ambiguous as the film’s ending. Film Score Monthly’s special release of this album is a very welcomed release because it is one of Dave Grusin’s more popular soundtracks and also because the music is just that good. The music is accessible and light which is very atypical of a thriller score and one that really makes the movie that much better. Three Days of the Condor is definitely still one of Dave Grusin’s best and masterful scores in his storied career and finally gets its rightful just due as an expanded album which will thrill fans of both the film and the score.
This album was also paired off with another Grusin score “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” which will be reviewed separately to give it a rightful grade and its rightful attention.