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The working title of this film was Six Days of the Condor. The onscreen opening and closing cast credits differ slightly in order, and actor Hansford Rowe is listed as Hanford H. Rowe, Jr. in the opening credits. A December 1973 article in Publishers Weekly noted that Dino De Laurentiis and producer Stanley Schneider bought the rights to James Grady's novel prior to its publication. According to a March 1, 1974 advertisement in Hollywood Reporter, Peter Yates was originally to direct the film. In the ad, Lorenzo Semple Jr. was credited as the sole screenwriter. According to a modern source, David Rayfiel, who previously had worked as an uncredited screenwriter with Sydney Pollack and Robert Redford on the films This Property Is Condemned (1966), Jeremiah Johnson (1972) and The Way We Were (1973, see entries above and below), was hired to rewrite Semple's script and redefine the character of "Kathy Hale." In Grady's novel, Kathy was a lonely secretary, whom Pollack thought would be more interesting as a stylish photographer who takes strange, moody photos. The story's location was also changed from Washington, D.C. to New York City.
Onscreen credits note that special sequences were filmed at New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, New York. According to material contained in the film's pressbook at the AMPAS Library, location shooting was also done in New York on the Upper East and West Side, Central Park, the World Trade Center, the Guggenheim Museum, Ward's Island, Chelsea and Brooklyn Heights and in Washington, D.C. A studio publicity article adds that Pollack appeared as an extra in a sidewalk scene filmed in Brooklyn Heights. Pollack took over production duties after Schneider died of a heart attack on 22 January 1975.
In a December 1975 Los Angeles Times article, Pollack discussed the fact that while he was shooting Three Days of the Condor, a series of disclosures about covert CIA operations-including illegal surveillance and plans for political assassination, began to appear in the news. According to Pollack, he was "shocked at how similar the truth was to what we had filmed. When we started the film we were reacting to Watergate (for more information of the Watergate incident, please for the 1976 release All the President's Men), asking questions like who or what you can trust, with the CIA as a symbol of post-Watergate paranoia. We had no intention of making a definitive sociological statement about intelligence gathering." An October 1975 New York Times news item adds that in the film's original ending, when "Turner" states that he has given his story to the New York Times, "Higgins" responds with no one will believe him. The ending was changed, according to the article, after Redford had a conversation with Seymour Hersh, the reporter who had just broken the CIA revelations in the New York Times. After lunching with Hersh, Redford decided to make the ending more sinister and ambiguous.
Modern sources add the following actors to the cast: Beverly Goodman, Russell Johnson and Bruce Moreno. Three Days of the Condor was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film Editing. In June 1991, Pollack, represented by The Association of Danish Film Directors, filed a suit against Danmark's Radio TV, the country's public broadcaster, on the grounds that the broadcaster reformatted the film's CinemaScope image for television. In April 1997, the court ruled in Pollack's favor, but later that month, the claim was thrown out.