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
Gene Hackman later plays a former NSA agent who is a surveillance expert in Enemy of the State (1998), and the images of his character in his younger days are taken directly from this film. See more »
Partygoers ride Stan's scooter around Caul's loft, but Stan had taken the scooter when he quit the day before. Stan came to the party in the car with everyone else so the scooter would not have been there. 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 stark look into the modern art of surveillance and its affect on one of its practitioners. Harry Caul (Hackman) is at the top of his business, but he's disturbed. Highly paranoiac, he is troubled by bad things that happened to some innocent people as a result of a prior surveillance job. Now he's afraid it's happening again....
The Conversation could not be more antithetical of the current movie making style. Stark, claustrophobic, unsexy, slow-paced, and with almost no soundtrack, it slowly builds to its dramatic noirish denouement.
A real treat, and as an added attraction the actors include a young Cindy Williams, Terri Garr, John Cazale, and Harrison Ford. Worth the rental unless anything outside of the MTV mould causes agitation.
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