I really wanted to do these exercises on this amazing book I read this week (tune in tomorrow for the review) but then I realized I would totally be giving away the entire novel if I did. No bueno.
So, I decided to do as Lucey suggests and answer the questions on a film. Three Days of the Condor (1975).
1. Jot down a beat by beat summary of the film studied. Note how the action-reaction dynamic develops the beats of the story.
Background establishing shots of the office and the city. Bit conversations revealing the nature of the work at the American Literary Historical Society. Analysts talking about gun shot and slugs hitting the wall. References to unauthorized research, lack of proper channels. Its the hero’s turn to bring in lunch. Uses the non proper exit which saves him a block because it is raining. waiting for the lunch order, talking about artists and the number of rejection slips he has had. men watching the proper entrance. Approaching. shooting everyone in the office as they come across them. Pulled something out of the book carousel in the front office. Hero returns with lunch order, finds front door open. discovers the bodies (cigarette still burning in the hand of one of them), takes the gun from the receptionist’s desk and exits, leaves his bike behind, runs to phone booth calls the “major”, who asks a lot of questions, tells him to leave the area but not to go home, call back in two hours, cleaning service arrives at the office, hero in an art gallery/museum, Hero gets a pretzel, goes to missing agents home, door is open, agent is dead in his bed, men coming up the stairs, hero runs up, waits till they go and then leaves, goes home and his neighbor tells him his two friends are waiting for him, he runs, calls in again, gets directed to be in the alley to be picked up by the head of his department, but he refuses to go unless someone he knows is at the meet, mutual friend gets a bullet proof vest and some nasty questions about his relationship with hero, head of department checks out a 45 gun just like the one condor is carrying, head of dept tries to kill hero, hero wounds head of dept and flees, head of dept kills friend, hero hides in store, kidnaps a woman as his exit, man arrives by helio, reads report, Five Continents Imports staffed by marines, hero takes woman back to her home, dept head made statement that condor shot them both before going into surgery, despite not being qualified with a handgun the committee believes he did the murders, their only suggestion is he is not the man he appears to be, hero explains his background to the girl, explains what the agency does, appeals for help, he makes her sleep next to him so he can nap, hit man discussing the finishing off of Condor and the tying up of loose ends with the head of dept, hero discussing the photos the woman takes, lonely pictures, news report hero thinks friend is dead, calls friend’s wife, argument with woman about his treatment of her, ties her up in the bathroom, hero goes to friend’s house, interrogates his wife about who called, then shoves her in the elevator to go up to friends as the hit man steps off, they both get in a down elevator, the ride is prolonged by teenagers who push all the floor buttons before they get off, hero talks a group into going with him to his car, which creates a barrier around him that foils the snipers plan, but the hit man gets the license plate of the car he is driving, he unties the woman and makes her answer the phone, prolonged conversation with rude boyfriend who doesn’t catch on that she is being held hostage, more conversation about hero’s treatment of woman, her art, her prediction of his imminent death, heavy sexual overtones, oddly shot sex, facial expressions, and close ups of body parts interspersed with her black and white photos, flash back series as the hero works out the overall conspiracy, background talk, hospital nurse monitoring a flat lining monitor, mailman delivering a package, pen fails so the main follows hero into apartment while he looks for a pen, hero flings coffee pot at man who has gun, fight ensues, hero shoots villain, hero searches villain, gets key and a paper from Five Continents with phone number and ext, hero dials it immediately, its the CIA, he and woman drive somewhere, conversation about figuring it all out, she does into the CIA as a visitor, pretends to get lost and goes into Higgins office, ts a face check so hero can follow him, woman joins Higgins at lunch, woman delivers message for Higgins to follow her out to the car, hero interrogates higgins, finds out hit man used to work for the company, Hero finds out Wicks is dead, hero wants Higgins to bring him in, Higgins says he’s sorry, hero realizes that he’s being hung out as bait, hero uses distraction to steal something from a new york telephone repair truck, gets key identified, and goes to the hotel to call in on the line, records the next call the hit man makes, then calls into langely to get the phone number and gets a name and address for the owner, Higgins mean time checking out the mailman and wicks, hero goes to the phone company, calls in to the major for route to Higgins, tells higgins where to find the hit man, because he used the phone company the trace is useless, background with woman, more about her art, hero gets on a train to washington, emplores woman not to give him up, which makes her cry, higgins in conversation with superior, about careers/history, someone is being held at New Yprk Center, hero sitting in someone’s office blasting the music, man comes down stairs, confrontation with the big bad, it’s the deputy director of operations middle east section, hero figures out it is all about oil, hit man shows up in the door way, hit man kills the deputy with condors gun, puts the gun in his hand and wipes down all the prints, hit man is back with the company, hit man explains why he is not going to kill the hero, hit man wants to know about the girl, how hero choose her, the hit man offers advice, they will kill you, it will be someone you know, soon, the hit man suggest he go to Europe and become a hit man like him because it is so restful and someone is always willing to pay, hero says he would miss the united states if he went away too long, the hit man gives hero a gun “for that day,” hero meets up with higgins, a car is there to take him to debriefing, hero wants to know if we are going to invade the middle east, you think not getting caught in a lie is the same as telling the truth, he walks higgins to in front of the new york times building and tells him he told them the story, higgins say you’ll be dead if they don’t print it, hero says they’ll print it.
2. How does the film deal with subplots and continuity? Analyze how the subplots are used to fill out the span of the second act.
Subplots are minor, a bare relationship that actually feels like it drags the film down. I really don’t care about Cathy’s art. I certainly don’t care enough to talk about it four different times. And I don’t know about you but I don’t willingly have sex with the man who’s holding me hostage after talking to my significant other.
3. What strategies of time, logic, editing, sound, music, dialogue, and action link the scenes into a story? How much story time passes between the scenes? How does the film create momentum?
The entire film is three short days. They use simple light versus dark for day and night passage. Verbal queues such as how long till the 6 o’clock news and in the morning I will…I need 12 hours, just till noon tomorrow. The film uses a pretty standard ramp up the intensity, then allow it to drop but not quite to the bottom, then up a little higher, drop but not quite to the previous low, etc. Each time getting edgier with the break less down.
4. Work out the story armature that organizes the film.
Someone has killed his entire office and will kill him. the hero had no one to depend on and can trust no one.
5. Summarize the first act set up in the film. How does the set up invest the story with dramatic potential?
The entire office is killed, he doesn’t know who to trust, then his friend is shot by someone he thought he could trust.
All in all not a bad movie. A little slow moving in some places but a fun thriller. I suspect the hero will soon be dead and sadly I don’t much care about his fate so I suppose the movie failed in some respects.
Yesterday was Day Four of Nanowrimo and I chose to spend the day with family and friends. 0 Words written. But I am still ok because the first three days were banner awesome. 2879/2000