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- R 307
Surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) values his personal privacy and anonymity above all else. When he and partner Stan (John Cazale) are hired by a mysterious client known only as 'the director' (Robert Duvall) to follow a young couple, Harry deduces that the woman, Mary, is the director's wife, and the man an employee with whom she is conducting an affair. Harry becomes convinced that the director intends to murder the pair and, haunted by guilt from a previous assignment where the information he provided resulted in loss of human life, sets out to prevent the killing himself.
- Movies & TV
- 31 Oct 2011
- Region B
- English, German
- Interactive Menus
- Enhanced WS tv
- Bonus Footage
- Interviews: Gene Hackman, David Shire (Music)
- Commentary: Francis Ford Coppola (Director), Walter Murch (Editor)
- Other Documentary: 'Close-Up On the Conversation', 'Then and Now', 'No Cigar'
- 109 min
- Age Restriction
- Supply Source
- Release Year
- Running Time
- 113 min
- Dramas / Classic / Detectives / Disturbing / Essential Cinema / Murder / Mystery / Psychodrama / Recommended / Suspense / Theatrical Release / Thriller
- Francis Ford Coppola's THE CONVERSATION is a towering achievement, a masterfully constructed portrait of one man's descent into madness. Gene Hackman delivers a devastating performance as Harry Caul, a surveillance expert who gets paid to invade the privacy of strangers. The film's classic opening shot is a long, slow zoom into Union Square in San Francisco, as a young couple, Mark (Frederic Forrest) and Ann (Cindy Williams), are having what seems like an otherwise mundane conversation. However, when it is revealed that Harry and his assistant Stanley (John Cazale) are eavesdropping from a nearby van, it becomes clear that something more serious is happening. Later, after Harry painstakingly reconstructs the conversation from several different audio sources, he uncovers a snippet of dialogue that unsettles him. Suspicious of his client's motives for wanting the tape, Harry becomes uncharacteristically worried about the people he may have endangered, sending him into a dangerous mental tailspin.
With Harry Caul, Coppola and Hackman have managed to create one of cinema's most unforgettable characters, a man who appears to be in control on the outside but who is, in fact, crumbling on the inside. Though Teri Garr, Harrison Ford, and Allen Garfield deliver standout supporting turns, THE CONVERSATION is Hackman's show. Inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni's BLOW UP (1966), THE CONVERSATION in turn went on to influence Brian De Palma's own surveillance thriller, BLOW OUT (1981).
- Theatrical release: April 7, 1974
Shot on location in San Francisco, California.
THE CONVERSATION was made by Francis Ford Coppola in the time between THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER PART II.
The film was written over five years before production began.
Tony Scott's 1998 film, ENEMY OF THE STATE, makes numerous references to THE CONVERSATION. Gene Hackman's character in Scott's film, Brill, is essentially an extension of Harry Caul character.
THE CONVERSATION was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1995.
In 1975, Coppola became the first person to ever receive two Oscar nominations for Best Director in the same year (the other film being THE GODFATHER PART II).
- Cast & Crew
- Francis Ford Coppola
- Harrison Ford / Gene Hackman / Robert Duvall / John Cazale / Frederic Forrest / Allen Garfield / Teri Garr / Michael Higgins / Elizabeth MacRae / Cindy Williams
- Francis Ford Coppola
- David Shire
- Francis Ford Coppola
- Director of Photography
- Bill Butler
- Production Designer
- Dean Tavoularis
- Costume Designer
- Aggie Guerard Rodgers
- Fred Roos
- Movie Critics
- Chicago Sun-Times
- "...A taut, intelligent thriller..."— Roger Ebert (4 Feb 2001, p.5)
- Entertainment Weekly
- "...Subdued, wrenching, beautifully calibrated....Thrillingly uncompromised..." -- Rating: A— Mark Harris (5 Jan 2001, p.53)
- Sight and Sound
- "Hackman's intensely withdrawn performance, the hardest kind for a leading actor to bring off...comes to animated and enthusiastic life when Caul is discussing technology and technique..."— Michael Brooke (1 Feb 2012, )
- Total Film
- "...Coppola's spare thriller works as a brilliant deconstruction of the medium..."— Daniel Webb (1 Dec 2003, p.50)
- "Francis Ford Coppola's conspiracy thriller stands up well 30 years on."— Uncut Staff (1 Jan 2005, p.82)
- USA Today
- "...Too few movie lovers have seen Francis Ford Coppola's cult masterpiece THE CONVERSATION..."— Mike Clark (15 Dec 2000, p.13E)
- Wall Street Journal
- "Gene Hackman gives a perfect performance as Harry Caul, a surveillance expert who stumbles on an ominous conversation that wasn't meant for his ears or anyone else's."— (12 Jun 2009, )
- Palme d'Or
- Winner: 1974