Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Life imitates art: Three Days of the Condor

Perhaps some of you will remember the 1975 movie "Three Days of the Condor" with Robert Redford as a young CIA analyst who discovers an unauthorized plan by a rogue group inside the CIA to take over Middle East oilfields. That such a plan would be unauthorized and even scandalous must certainly seem quaint to us now. I was thinking about the final scene of the movie recently and found this script of it online. Redford plays "Turner," the CIA analyst. Cliff Robertson plays "Higgins," the CIA's New York chief, who is trying to hunt down Turner when Turner surprises him on the street. The scene now seems eerily prescient:

TURNER
Do we have plans to invade the Middle East?

HIGGINS
Are you crazy?

TURNER
Am I?

HIGGINS
Look, Turner...

TURNER
Do we have plans?

HIGGINS
No. Absolutely not.
(then)
We have games. That's all. We play games. "What if?", "How many men?", "What would it take?", "Is there a cheaper way of destabilizing the regime?"
(quieter)
That's what we're paid to do.

TURNER
So...Atwood just took the games too seriously. He was really going to do it...wasn't he?

HIGGINS
It was a renegade operation! Atwood knew 54/12 could never authorize it: not with all the heat on the company.
TURNER
Suppose there'd been no heat? And I hadn't stumbled on the plan? Nobody had?

HIGGINS
(shrugs)
Different ballgame. The fact is, it wasn't a bad plan. It could've worked.

TURNER
Jesus--What is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same as telling the truth.

HIGGINS
It's simple economics, Turner...There's no argument. Oil now, 10 or 15 years, it'll be food, or plutonium. Maybe sooner than that. What do you think the people will want us to do then?

TURNER
Ask them!

HIGGINS
Now?
(shakes head)
Huh-uh. Ask them when they're running out. When it's cold at home and the engines stop and people who aren't used to hunger...go hungry! They won't want us to ask...
(quiet savagery:)
They'll just want us to get it for them.


How sadly, darkly true.

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1 comment:

FatherofFour said...

That last line is so good.

There are optimists and there are pessimists, but what don't think is being discussed enough is the basic underlying savagery of man against man when the going gets tough. It's easy to dream that we will come together somehow and get through this all right and no one will get hurt. But the hurt has already started. We're just not feeling it because we're on the winning side for now.