Monday, March 9, 2020

the gentleman assassin (R.I.P. Max von Sydow, 1929-2020)

One of my favorite movie moments arrives in the first act of Sydney Pollack's Three Days of the Condor, when Max von Sydow's assassin, Joubert, is leading the massacre of Joe Turner's (Robert Redford) CIA colleagues. The last one still standing, Janice (Tina Chen), is asked, gently, by Joubert to move away from the windows.

"I won't scream," she says.

"I know," he replies, and von Sydow delivers the line in an almost paternal way. Nothing personal—just business.

Joubert is one of the most memorable "bad guys" in any movie I've seen, and although Pollack's go-to script doctor, David Rayfiel, gives him some great dialogue, von Sydow is the reason why Joubert becomes the most three-dimensional character in the film. He steals Three Days of the Condor from his top-billed costars in the most gentlemanly fashion possible.