Double Bill: The Exorcist & Three Days of the Condor

The Exorcist


Adapted from the William Peter Blatty novel of the same name, the The Exorcist is based on true events. The story follows Regan (Linda Blair), a young girl who begins to display odd behavior. After exhausting medical options, Regan’s mother Chris (Ellen Burstyn), who suspects her daughter may be possessed, turns to the church and young Jesuit priest Father Karas (Jason Miller). After he tries several religious rites with no effect, Karas calls in a veteran priest, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow), to help with the rite of exorcism and horrifying things happen to Regan and the priests in the battle between good and evil.

The two-disc 50th Anniversary Edition set includes the original theatrical version of the film and the 2000 Extended Director’s Cut, which is 11 minutes longer and features updated CGI effects, restored dialogue, and a slightly different ending. The extended cut also reinstates Regan’s shocking upside-down spider walk on the stairs, which was removed from the theatrical cut.

Featuring a performance by Linda Blair that is beyond her (then) 14 years, The Exorcist is known for shocking special effects and moody, shadowy visuals that create a mysterious and eerie atmosphere. The film stands as one of the most terrifying films of all time — especially if you’re watching alone in the dark — and was an overnight sensation upon its release in 1973, with moviegoers lining up around the block and reports of people fainting in theaters.

This 4K disc from Warner comes encoded in 1.85:1 HEVC 2160p and is one of the studio’s best-looking catalog releases. The image is crisp and reveals an abundance of fine detail. And, though grain is apparent, its higher density gives the film a more refined look than the original.

A few technical notes: The HDR10 grading, which has a MaxCLL of 999 nits and MaxFALL of 155 nits (theatrical)/153 nits (extended), brings enhanced shadow detail and obsidian black levels without a hint of crush. Whites are bright when lights are present, specular highlights sparkle, and flames pop off the screen with more color vibrancy. There is no noticeable difference in quality between the two cuts of the film.

The Exorcist is blessed with a reference-level Dolby Atmos mix featuring wide dynamic range and excellent clarity in the ambience and atmospherics. The soundtrack makes effective use of the overhead channels, including the occasional “voice of God” effect, and is bolstered by judicious bass that is deep and appropriately visceral, but never bombastic.

In addition to the Extended Director’s Cut, Warner includes two audio commentaries and an introduction by the late director Willaim Friedkin. Redeeming the Movies Anywhere digital code gets you several other bonus features from previous releases, including the excellent “The Fear of God: 25 Years of The Exorcist” and “Beyond Comprehension,” an interview with novelist William Peter Blatty. —Brandon A. DuHamel

STUDIO: Warner, 1973
AUDIO FORMAT: Dolby Atmos with TrueHD 7.1 core
LENGTH: 121 mins./132 mins. (extended cut), R
DIRECTOR: William Friedkin
STARRING: Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Jason Miller, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb

Three Days of the Condor


Joe Turner is a humble genius who reads and reports on books for the CIA, so why does someone want him dead? The only survivor of a brutal attack on his office, he’s on the run and looking for answers with only his considerable wits and a borrowed .45 for protection. A quintessential ‘70s thriller, Three Days of the Condor was extensively reimagined from James Grady’s novel Six Days of the Condor, and not only in its titular arithmetic.

This fast-paced cinematic adaptation is fraught with the post-Watergate paranoia of an increasingly complicated world that can no longer trust the government, its considerable intrigue ably shouldered by screen icon Robert Redford. But for a few dated trappings, Three Days has aged quite well, exploring the universal theme of human decency and its conflict with ruthless bureaucracy.

The movie was filmed in the winter on location in mid-‘70s New York City, which means lots of gray, benefitting here from strong contrast, and color that is sufficiently pleasing, as in the red of a Santa suit in Times Square. The Kino Lorber Studio Classics’ master is derived from a new 4K scan of the original camera negative, spread across a triple-layer 100-GB platter to afford a high bit rate, with crisp results evident in the ample facial details and precise lines of Turner’s tweed jacket.

HDR highlights are respectably bright during evening scenes, although nighttime sequences often appear a little too dark, with mushy blacks. Any image cleanup was thankfully restrained, as the inherent film grain is preserved along with a vertical scratch that remains visible in one shot.

The disc defaults to DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 but switching to the 5.1 home theater remix opens up the sound, as elements such as the pitter-patter of rain and an approaching helicopter are cautiously shifted into the rear channels, along with Dave Grusin’s jazzy musical score, which extends gently into the surrounds. Nothing too fancy here, as a brief scene set inside a busy telephone control room makes no effort to engage more than the left/right front speakers.

Two audio commentaries are supplied on the 4K disc, one archival track from late director Sydney Pollack and a new one from a pair of experts. These also included on the bundled HD Blu-ray, too, which also serves up a deeper-than-usual array of trailers and a couple of bonus features culled from a batch of roughly 20-year-old Redford/Pollack interviews, both excellent and worth watching. —Chris Chiarella

STUDIO: Kino Lorber Studio Classics, 1975
HDR FORMAT: Dolby Vision, HDR10
AUDIO FORMAT: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
LENGTH: 117 mins., R
DIRECTOR: Sydney Pollack
STARRING: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max von Sydow, John Houseman