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The Conversation (1974)

PG  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller  |  June 1974 (France)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 69,510 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 309 user | 143 critic | 6 from

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 15 wins & 11 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 will go anywhere to bug a private conversation. 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
See  »

Did You Know?


Gene Hackman was a fit, good-looking relatively young man when Francis Ford Coppola cast him as Harry Caul. In order to personify Harry's weary, aging, and unhappy existence, Hackman grew a pathetic-looking mustache, wore ill-fitting glasses, and had a wardrobe picked out that was at least 10 years out of date. Coppola specifically told Hackman he wanted Harry to look like a "nudnik", a Yiddish word referring to a person who is boring and a pest. 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 »


[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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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

You Have To See This More Than Once
2 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is one of those films I'm glad I gave a second chance because it got much better, and has continued getting better with each viewing (I've now seen it four times).

I know a few other people who watch this and ask, "What's the big deal?" Well, do what I did and give it another chance. Here's a tip: put on the English subtitles. It helps understand what is going on, as the taped conversations are often difficult to discern. Then, you might discover what I did: a fascinating character study, one that did not bore me as it had on the first viewing.

It's the study of a paranoid loner who is suffering a guilty conscience over the work he has done over the years, and what tragic consequences could happen with the latest project he's involved with. Without giving anything away, the loner's fears are realized in a shocking ending, but not in the way he imagined.

Gene Hackman, as always, does a super job of acting. He dominates the film as the main character, "Harry Call." The topic matter - high-tech surveillance - was intriguing, too. After watching this film, I wondered what kind of surveillance tools are available now, 30 years after this film was made.

84 of 108 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
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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