It was a great weekend to take in two thrillers from the seventies. My husband was away and since he is not a big fan of vintage films, I took advantage of having full control of the TV. Three Days of the Condor (1975) and Marathon Man (1976) are both thrillers whose suspense relies on dishonest civil servants (thanks to Nixon I suppose). Both are better written than what usually presents itself on the screen. Both run quite a bit of interesting and creative footage of Manhattan. If you’ve been to New York lately you might enjoy comparing the then and the now.
The seventies are in full glory in both films. Who can wear a pair of jeans, aviation glasses, and a tweed jacket better than Redford? Cars are burly beasty things, there’s more garbage on the streets than we now expect, and business suits are more common than business casual. The runners who share the trail around the reservoir with Hoffman wear short shorts which have yet to have a fashion revival.
Both protagonists are intellectuals, not tough guys (although their tight abs both make a taught appearance). They are dupped or naive to the mechanics of greed and deception until shocked by the loss of life around them. Provoked, they put their smarts into solving for the villains. Alas, as per custom, there is only one female per film- gorgeous and seductive- in place to shine a brighter light on the lead character while making themselves available to aid and support the male lead as is required of them.
The ending of Three Days of the Condor was a little off for me (and ironic now some forty years later). Marathon Man is more gruesome but overall richer in the story and social context. I enjoyed them both but if only could pick one would recommend Marathon Man.