Three Days of the Condor: Joubert’s Houndstooth Coat

Max von Sydow as Joubert in Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Max von Sydow as Joubert in Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Vitals

Max von Sydow as G. Joubert, French Alsatian contract assassin

Chevy Chase, Maryland, Christmas 1975

Film: Three Days of the Condor
Release Date: September 24, 1975
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Joseph G. Aulisi

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Unlike BAMF Style holiday favorites Die HardOn Her Majesty’s Secret Service, or The Thin ManThree Days of the Condor doesn’t directly address its Christmas setting, instead letting the otherwise cheery atmosphere, decor, and music be infiltrated by the increasing paranoia of its leading character, CIA researcher Joe Turner (Robert Redford), forced on the run after a massacre at his office.

Engineered by CIA Deputy Director Leonard Atwood (Addison Powell)’s secret intra-agency faction, the massacre was carried out under the supervision of Joubert, an enigmatic contract killer who takes it upon himself to finish the job after a timing snafu allows Turner, alias “Condor”, to escape.

Following the titular three days of Turner’s time on the run, the erstwhile researcher finds himself face to face with Joubert over in Atwood’s suburban residence… although the confrontation turns an unexpected turn in Condor’s favor. Joubert, his latest job completed, now takes an avuncular approach with his former target, genuinely and professionally curious as to how the novice managed to evade his deadly skill for so long.

Joubert even goes so far as to offer Turner a ride back to New York, though he can’t help but to issue a warning to his one-time prey:

You have not much future there… It will happen this way: you may be walking, maybe the first sunny day of the spring, and a car will slow beside you, and a door will open, and someone you know – maybe even trust – will get out of the car, and he will smile a becoming smile… but he will leave open the door of the car and offer to give you a lift.

Exhausted with his prospect, Turner asks Joubert what he should do. The hitman reflects before suggesting his own line of work, offering a twistedly tranquil perspective on political assassination and a look into his own psyche, perhaps reflective of the cynicism that defined the early 1970s zeitgeist.

Joubert: Well, the fact is, what I do is not a bad occupation. Someone is always willing to pay.
Turner: I would find it… tiring.
Joubert: Oh, no, it’s quite restful. It’s almost peaceful. No need to believe in either side, or any side. There is no cause. There’s only yourself. The belief is in your own precision.

What’d He Wear?

The one constant of Joubert’s wardrobe throughout Three Days of the Condor is a brown velvet trilby with a textured tan-on-burgundy band. The hat evokes the look of a traditional Bavarian Tyrolean hat, nodding to Joubert’s own vaguely Teutonic origins.

Joubert also wears a pair of large square-framed tortoise glasses that would aid the “precision” that he so values.

"Pardon?"

“Pardon?”

When Joubert treks to Chevy Chase and confronts Turner at gunpoint, he wears a winter-appropriate black-and-cream houndstooth check wool topcoat with a broad Ulster collar.

JOUBERT

The single-breasted knee-length coat has three buttons down the front, slanted welt pockets along the sides for his hands, and a single back vent that extends to his waist. The set-in sleeves are belted a few inches in from each cuff with straps that each adjust through a buckle.

Promotional photo of Max von Sydow and Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Promotional photo of Max von Sydow and Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Barely seen is the odd jacket that Joubert wears under his coat, a light brown single-breasted jacket with slim notch lapels and square-cut lower quarters.

It may be the same jacket with notch lapels and a welted breast pocket that Joubert wore under his trench coat earlier in the film (seen best in a behind-the-scenes photograph), but this would be difficult to confirm.

Two spies in winter: the experienced Joubert and the novice "Condor".

Two spies in winter: the experienced Joubert and the novice “Condor”.

Joubert evidently likes to stay dressed and ready for action even when technically off-duty, spending his down time in his hotel room in the same shirt, sweater, and trousers that he would later wear with sport jacket, topcoat, and tie when tracking Condor to Atwood’s house.

The beige knit sweater has a soft v-neck and set-in sleeves with ribbed cuffs. There is a small hole, similar to a cigarette burn, visible just above the cuff on the left sleeve, suggesting that Joubert has probably spent many a Gitanes-fueled stakeout wearing this sweater.

Joubert's "Audubon Society" is pretty clever, given that he was caught off-guard.

Joubert’s “Audubon Society” is pretty clever, given that he was caught off-guard.

Joubert’s shirt is ecru melange cotton or a cotton-polyester blend with a long point collar, front placket, and button cuffs. When not wearing a tie, he leaves the top button undone and lets the collar rest on the outside of the sweater.

When he is wearing a tie, he sports a hunter green wool knit tie; the color is both indicative of his profession and a touch of Christmas festivity during the holidays.

Joubert's earthy tones of beige, brown, and green coordinate well with the rustic decor of Atwood's home office.

Joubert’s earthy tones of beige, brown, and green coordinate well with the rustic decor of Atwood’s home office.

Joubert wears charcoal twill slacks with straight pockets along the side seams and two back pockets that close with a single-buttoning flap.

JOUBERT

We don’t see Joubert’s shoes in this scene, but he is likely not wearing the same snuff suede desert boots as he wore with his trench coat in New York City. We do, however, get a good look at his smooth dark brown lambskin gloves.

"For that day..."

“For that day…”

Joubert also wears an all-gold watch with round case and dial and a mesh-like bracelet on his left wrist.

How to Get the Look

Joubert’s wardrobe is hardly the stuff of the archetypal government assassin (think Jason Bourne in all black), and his check topcoat, wool tie, layered jumper and jacket, and trilby would have been very suitable for a sensible middle-aged man to wear in that context… much like Condor’s pea coat and jeans would be for him.

Max von Sydow and Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Max von Sydow and Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor (1975)

  • Black-and-cream houndstooth check wool single-breasted topcoat with Ulster collar, three-button front, slanted welt hand pockets, belted cuffs, and single back vent
  • Light brown single-breasted jacket with notch lapels and welted breast pocket
  • Ecru melange shirt with long point collar, front placket, and button cuffs
  • Hunter green wool knit tie
  • Beige knit v-neck sweater
  • Charcoal twill flat front trousers with straight/on-seam side pockets, button-flapped back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Brown velvet trilby with textured tan-on-burgundy band
  • Tortoise square-framed glasses
  • Dark brown lambskin leather gloves
  • Gold wristwatch with gold-mesh bracelet

The Gun

Turner and Atwood are interrupted by the startling sight of Joubert, standing in the doorway with a small but deadly pistol drawn. The gun is an Astra Constable, a Spanish-made semi-automatic compact pistol that strongly resembles the venerable Walther PPK.

Like the Walther, the Astra Constable is offered in .32 ACP, .380 ACP, and .22 LR; Joubert's pistol in particular seems to be chambered for .22 LR based on the ".22 LR" stamp visible on the barrel.

Like the Walther, the Astra Constable is offered in .32 ACP, .380 ACP, and .22 LR; Joubert’s pistol in particular seems to be chambered for .22 LR based on the “.22 LR” stamp visible on the barrel.

Astra began production of the Constable in 1969, offering the same calibers as the Walther PPK and a similar blowback operation with a traditional double-action trigger. The pistol made its first major cinematic appearance in Three Days of the Condor, according to IMFDB, but would also be seen in Goodfellas and Taxi Driver (where it was mistakenly referred to as a “.380 Walther”) before production ceased in 1992.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie. The scene of Turner and Joubert walking out to the latter’s car is a particular favorite of mine.

The Quote

I don’t interest myself in “why”. I think more often in terms of “when”, sometimes “where”… always “how much”.

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