7.9/10
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329 user 153 critic

The Conversation (1974)

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 14 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Bernie Moran
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Ann
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Paul
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Meredith (as Elizabeth Mac Rae)
...
Amy
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...
Receptionist
Robert Shields ...
The Mime
Phoebe Alexander ...
Lurleen
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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 »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

June 1974 (France)  »

Also Known As:

La conversación  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,600,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$4,420,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (restored version)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall; and three Oscar nominees: Teri Garr, Harrison Ford, Frederic Forrest. See more »

Goofs

In one early scene Harry returns home without his raincoat, which he has worn everywhere. Another error is leaving behind at the Jack Tar his case with all his equipment. Finally, if he used pay phones for outgoing calls, why have a house phone at all? Didn't he know that a determined outsider (e.g. Harrison Ford) could find it? See more »

Quotes

[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.
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Connections

Featured in The Siskel & Ebert 500th Anniversary Special (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along
(1926)
Written by Harry M. Woods (as Harry Woods)
Sung by an unidentified female
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Ingenious and frightening!
10 May 1999 | by (Sterling Heights, Michigan) – See all my reviews

"The Conversation" is a really great movie. I was quite surprised when I saw it. Not at how good it was, but how few people have seen it or heard of it. This is a classic suspense thriller, and a terrifying psychological horror film! From the opening credits, I, like the characters, was unsure of where I was going, or what the opening conversation (which is what the entire film is built around) might lead to. It seemed so unusually powerful, despite its masterfully simplistic execution. There is no overkill or excess in this film, nor is it under written or underplayed. It's just perfect! And I was even more surprised at how little was shown, and how much it could engross or frighten the hell out of me! My heart was racing, even though there was little action! This is the kind of film Alfred Hitchcock would have been proud to direct. The direction went to another master instead, Francis Ford Coppola. I felt ahead of the movie at its opening credits. But then, it blasted me and got miles ahead of me. It is an attack on our psyche and our fear, and it's amazing how, like the film itself, the conversation in the film that seemed so small and irrational could lead to something as big as it did!


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