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Three Days of the Condor: the spy film starring Robert Redford inspired a real assassination

The three days of the Condor : by the great Sydney Pollack

The three days of the Condor is one of the great conspiracy spy films. Directed by Sydney Pollack, the film immerses us in the daily life of a clandestine CIA unit codenamed “Condor”. Although they appear to be simple employees, the men and women of this section are actually tasked with studying writings published around the world in an attempt to find coded messages. Since the story is set in the 1970s, in the midst of the Cold Warand while for the United States the question of oil in the Middle East arises more and more.

In this context we therefore follow Joseph Turner (Roberto Redford) who works as a cryptographer at the Condor unit. It is he who points out strange elements in a novel that could reveal the existence of a spy network linked to the CIA. The next day, after going shopping, the man returns to his office and discovers it all his colleagues were murdered. After contacting CIA headquarters, he soon realizes that he is still in danger and that he would be better off fleeing before attempting to uncover the truth.

Robert Redford - Three Days of the Condor ©STUDIOCANAL
Robert Redford – Three Days of the Condor ©STUDIOCANAL

Self The three days of the Condor succeeds, it is largely thanks to the precision of its script, resulting from from the novel by James Grady, The six days of the Condor (1974) – although many elements were changed. In the criticism of him a Chicago Sun TimesRoger Ebert had emphasized the film’s realism and easy connections to make the Watergate affair : “What is scary in these months after Watergate is that the film is too credible“.

The assassination of Ali Akbar Tabatabai

Can a film be too believable or too realistic? The question may arise with The three days of the Condor since the film obviously inspired the real world of espionage, as author James Grady mentioned in an article on Newsweek. In fact, the media first mentioned the fact the KGB He is said to have decided to launch a program similar to that of Joseph Turner’s unit during the Cold War, in turn analyzing books and films in which there may have been coded messages. But he is too a real murder that would be orchestrated in similar conditions to the film.

Five years after the release of The three days of the Condorand after the CIA supported the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, Ali Akbar Tabatabai he was killed in Maryland where he lived. The latter had left Iran and was allegedly plotting in the hope of returning to power. But on July 22, 1980, a man named David Belfield showed up at Ali Akbar Tabatabai’s door. in postman clothes. His target opened the door without suspecting anything and was shot dead.

Since the procedure is very similar to that of the film and book Three Days of the Condor, James Grady decided to contact David Belfield by telephone to ask him where the idea of ​​disguising himself in this way came from.

It was straight out of my book. It was very strange. For his part, Belfield wasn’t sure whether it was the book or the movie, but said he may have gotten the idea from a friend who saw the movie.

Source: Cine Serie

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