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The Conversation (1974)

PG  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller  |  June 1974 (France)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 70,392 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 310 user | 145 critic | 6 from Metacritic.com

A paranoid, secretive surveillance expert has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that a couple he is spying on will be murdered.

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Bernie Moran
Michael Higgins ...
Meredith (as Elizabeth Mac Rae)
Robert Shields ...
The Mime
Phoebe Alexander ...


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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Harry Caul is an invader of privacy. The best in the business. He can record any conversation between two people anywhere. So far, three people are dead because of him. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

June 1974 (France)  »

Also Known As:

La conversación  »

Box Office


$1,600,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (restored version)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


[first lines]
Passerby: Well, I want to go over to my place and start, you know, getting it on...
Ann: Oh, that's terrible.
Mark: Yeah. Do you ever, uh... ballet?
Ann: Be thankful. Do you have a quarter for them?
Mark: Yes, I do.
Ann: [gives it to street band]
Ann: What about me?
Mark: You'll see.
Ann: A lot of fun you are. You're supposed to tease me, give hints, make me guess, you know.
See more »


Referenced in Mad About You: The Conversation (1997) See more »


When I Take My Sugar To Tea
Music by Sammy Fain
Lyrics by Irving Kahal & Pierre Norman
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Everyone's Talking at Me.....I Think I Hear Every Word They Say.
7 November 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Enigmatic, frustrating, confusing, intelligent and overall extremely brilliant work by writer/director Francis Ford Coppola (Oscar-nominated for his screenplay) has surveillance expert Gene Hackman recording a conversation between Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest. It immediately appears that the duo are having an affair behind Williams' very wealthy husband's (a cameo by Robert Duvall) back. However nothing is quite as cut and dry as it seems. Hackman, a devout Catholic, has a bout of conscience as he worries that Duvall might have deviant plans for his wife and her apparent lover. Apparently Hackman's work had meant the lives of some he had spied on many years earlier in New York and he is shown as a quiet man who has some loud personal demons within his soul. The suspense builds when Hackman is followed by Duvall's shady employee (Harrison Ford) and eventually the heat rises to a boil as all the very loose ends are tied together in a wickedly twisted final act. "The Conversation" was Coppola's other film from 1974 (remember Best Picture Oscar winner "The Godfather, Part II"?). With this movie, Coppola created arguably the two best films of that dominant cinematic campaign (of course Roman Polanski's "Chinatown" would have something to say about that). Hackman delivers a deceptively difficult and dark performance as a man who seems to be self-destructing slowly on the inside out. By the end "The Conversation" is a thought-provoking product that will chill you to the bone with its cold elements. 5 stars out of 5.

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I KNOW where the tap is! Can't believe nobody figured this out! BartSamson
All Coppola films are boring... steven-e-carrier
'The Conversation' as a study in guilt, not paranoia rexamillion
where the tap really is yrag-3
Blood welling out of the toilet... jeffreyholmes
Harrison Ford's performance brontlanders
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