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Harry Caul is a devout Catholic and a lover of jazz music who plays his saxophone while listening to his jazz records. He is a San Francisco-based electronic surveillance expert who owns and operates his own small surveillance business. He is renowned within the profession as being the best, one who designs and constructs his own surveillance equipment. He is an intensely private and solitary man in both his personal and professional life, which especially irks Stan, his business associate who often feels shut out of what is happening with their work. This privacy, which includes not letting anyone into his apartment and always telephoning his clients from pay phones is, in part, intended to control what happens around him. His and Stan's latest job (a difficult one) is to record the private discussion of a young couple meeting in crowded and noisy Union Square. The arrangement with his client, known only to him as "the director", is to provide the audio recording of the discussion ... Written by
David Shire's original music was composed prior to production and played for the actors prior to their scenes to get them into the proper moods. See more »
Presumably, the "conversation" was recorded over the noon hour. In the opening shot, the shadows are much too long for mid-day, even in winter. See more »
Well, I want to go over to my place and start, you know, getting it on...
Oh, that's terrible.
Yeah. Do you ever, uh... ballet?
Be thankful. Do you have a quarter for them?
Yes, I do.
[gives it to street band]
What about me?
A lot of fun you are. You're supposed to tease me, give hints, make me guess, you know.
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The Conversation is a quiet film that slowly builds on the central theme of paranoia. Gene Hackman is hired to record a conversation between two people. As Hackman pieces the dialouge together, we get to hear more and more of what's being said. Only thing is, we don't know exactly what is being referred to. Hackman seems to have an idea, as does the audience. As he starts to realize what's at stake, Hackman starts to develop a feeling of regret and refuses to hand over the tapes to the "director." Along the way, we see just how alone Gene Hackman's character is. His only solace in life is playing the saxaphone along with jazz records. He values his privacy and has trouble connecting with people, even members of his own team. Francis Ford Coppola keeps the story moving and lets it build naturally. He gives us glimpses into Hackman's mind as he "thinks" he knows what's going to happen to the people he recorded. The only way to see what happens in the end is to watch this quiet masterpiece. To tell about the ending would ruin the fun, not to mention the suspence of this understated thriller.
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