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The Conversation (1974)

1 rating: 5.0
Mystery & Suspense movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola’s provoking mystery-thriller stars Gene Hackman as Harry Caul, an expert surveillance man. A routine wiretapping job turns into a nightmare when Harry hears something disturbing in his recording of a young couple in a park. … see full wiki

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1 review about The Conversation (1974)

'I'm not afraid of death, but I am afraid of murder.'

  • Jun 16, 2010
THE CONVERSATION may be a 36 year old film, but it remains one of the finest suspense thrillers of this genre. Francis Ford Coppola wrote and directed this gem between making Godfather and Godfather II and his degree of subtlety and mastery of understatement and jolting events shows. This film is restored now on a new release and the result is a crisp, flawlessly produced souvenir of just what Coppola does best - along with his current TETRO.

Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is a very private person with memories of an incident in his past that permanently scar his ability to trust anyone or anything. He is a private surveillance expert, living in San Francisco, and with his partner Stan (John Cazale) is in the process of taping both audio and visual evidence of an affair of a young couple for a fee of $15,000. for tapes and photos. In studying his tapes he discovers a planned murder and his tension mounts as he realizes he could be considered a participant in a killing not unlike what happened in his past. He becomes paranoid when he attempts to turn over the achieved evidence to the man who hired him and in turn finds he is to give the tapes and photos to an 'assistant', one Martin Stett (Harrison Ford in a very early bit part). Fear consumes him: he distances himself from his girlfriend (Teri Garr) and loses his partner Stan when his obsession with personal privacy drives Stan away. Gaul, well respected in his field, meets his New York counterpart and becomes part of a surveillance scheme himself! How Gaul copes with his situation is the resolution of the film.

The pace of the film is slow, not unlike the patience required by those who invade the privacy of others. Coppola allows us to understand the psyches of each of his characters, no matter how small their roles. Hackman and Cazale are superb as they keep the flow of the film tense like a drawn out tightrope. It is a film to see repeatedly and one that has many of the qualities Coppola polishes in TETRO. Grady Harp, June 10

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