On this day in 1975, Three Days of the Condor, a political thriller directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Redford, opens in New York City. In the film, Redford, one of the biggest movie stars of the 1970s, played a low-level C.I.A. employee being stalked by an assassin. Based on a novel titled Six Days of the Condor by James Grady, the film, which co-stars Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson and Max Von Sydow, was a box-office success. Prior to Three Days of the Condor, Pollack and Redford teamed up for Jeremiah Johnson (1972) and The Way We Were (1973), co-starring Barbra Streisand. The two men later collaborated on The Electric Horseman (1979); Out of Africa (1986), which co-starred Meryl Streep and won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture; and Havana (1990). Pollack, who died on May 26, 2008, at the age of 73, also directed such hit movies as Absence of Malice (1981), Tootsie (1982) and The Firm (1993). His producing credits include The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Cold Mountain (2003) and Michael Clayton (2007).
Redford, who was born on August 18, 1936, acted in theater and television before his 1963 breakthrough performance on Broadway in Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park, which co-starred Jane Fonda. In 1969, Redford teamed with Paul Newman in the box-office smash Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. During the 1970s, the ruggedly handsome Redford starred in such films as The Candidate (1972); The Sting (1973), which reunited him with Newman and won seven Oscars, including Best Picture; The Great Gatsby (1974), in which he played the title role; and All the President’s Men (1976), in which he portrayed the Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, half of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that helped uncover the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s. (Dustin Hoffman played Woodward’s fellow journalist, Carl Bernstein.) Among Redford’s later hit movies as an actor were The Natural (1984) and Indecent Proposal (1993), with Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson.
In 1980, Redford made his directorial debut with Ordinary People. The film, which starred Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland, Timothy Hutton and Judd Hirsch, won four Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (Hutton). Redford went on to helm such films as The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), A River Runs Through It (1992) and Quiz Show (1994), which earned Best Director and Best Picture Oscar nominations. His more recent directorial efforts include The Horse Whisperer (1998), in which he also starred; The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000); and Lions for Lambs (2007), in which he co-starred with Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep.
Also in 1980, Redford founded the Sundance Institute, aimed at helping aspiring artists in film and theater. The group runs the Sundance Film Festival, now a major festival for independent filmmakers from around the world.