Redford is the bookish and bespectacled reader for the Literary Historical Society, but the organization actually serves as a CIA front located in a brownstone in Manhattan. One day he goes out to get lunch for the others (it's his turn), and while he's picking up the food, killers armed with automatic weapons enter the building and massacre everyone there. Redford returns with lunch and finds all his coworkers murdered. Fearing that he may be next, he goes to a phone booth and calls headquarters, identifying himself by his code name, "Condor." He is told to meet an agent at a
nearby hotel, but when the fellow CIA man tries to kill him, Redford realizes his own organization is responsible for the slaughter. Determined to survive and to blow the whistle on the CIA, Redford kidnaps woman photographer Dunaway and forces her to help him. Based on James Grady's novel Six Days of the Condor (the film compresses the time frame of the novel), this taut espionage thriller gained greater plausibility during its shooting when a sudden raft of sensational post-Watergate news items began coming out of Washington regarding illegal wiretaps, surveillance, and killings motivated by political expediency. What was once merely a fanciful exploitation of antigovernment paranoia, became a thrilling pseudo-expose on the corrupt inner workings of covert organizations. The public ate it up and the film was a hit at the box office.
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