7.9/10
84,997
332 user 158 critic

The Conversation (1974)

A paranoid, secretive surveillance expert has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that a couple, on whom he is spying, will be murdered.
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3,764 ( 39)

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Gene Hackman ... Harry Caul
John Cazale ... Stan
Allen Garfield ... Bernie Moran
Frederic Forrest ... Mark
Cindy Williams ... Ann
Michael Higgins ... Paul
Elizabeth MacRae ... Meredith (as Elizabeth Mac Rae)
Teri Garr ... Amy
Harrison Ford ... Martin Stett
Mark Wheeler ... Receptionist
Robert Shields Robert Shields ... The Mime
Phoebe Alexander 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 will go anywhere to bug a private conversation. See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

June 1974 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

La conversación See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,600,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,420,000
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Dolby Digital (restored version)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Francis Ford Coppola cited his conversation with fellow Director Irvin Kershner about surveillance as the basis and theme of the film. See more »

Goofs

Given Caul's character, and his paranoid state of mind, I find it inconceivable that he would allow a dozen or so "colleagues/competitors" into his work space and allow them to poke around, leaving the critical tapes out in the open. 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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Soundtracks

When I Take My Sugar To Tea
(1931)
Music by Sammy Fain
Lyrics by Irving Kahal & Pierre Norman
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Paranoia and alienation.
7 February 2000 | by bat-5See all my reviews

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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