7.9/10
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336 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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3,963 ( 48)

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

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Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
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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
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Dolby Digital (restored version)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was one in a cycle of 1970s conspiracy movies, launched by the success of Costa-Gavras's conspiracy thriller Z (1969). Subsequent films included Klute (1971), Soylent Green (1973), The Day of the Jackal (1973), Executive Action (1973), The Conversation (1974), The Parallax View (1974), Chinatown (1974), The Odessa File (1974), The Stepford Wives (1975), Three Days of the Condor (1975), All the President's Men (1976), Futureworld (1976), Marathon Man (1976), Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977), The Domino Principle (1977), Black Sunday (1977), Telefon (1977), Coma (1978), Capricorn One (1977), Good Guys Wear Black (1978), Foul Play (1978), The Boys from Brazil (1978), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Brass Target (1978), The China Syndrome (1979) and Winter Kills (1979). Hangar 18 (1980), Hopscotch (1980), Cutter's Way (1981), Blow Out (1981), Missing (1982), Wrong Is Right (1982), Blue Thunder (1983), The Star Chamber (1983) and Silkwood (1983) would follow in the early 1980s. See more »

Goofs

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 »

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.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Magicians: The Tales of the Seven Keys (2018) 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

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User Reviews

 
A Subtle Horror
14 June 2008 | by alexkolokotronisSee all my reviews

To me The Conversation is one of most underrated movies ever. The movie carries on so quietly throughout that the suspense of the movie keeps on building up to one of the best endings in movie history.

The directing of this film was among one of the best I have ever seen. Coppola is able to craft his way through another one of his classics. The movie is just perfectly edited together and is so gripping throughout. His directing really takes the audiene to another world that most to almost all of us do not know about. That world is the world of security surveillance and spies. This though is not an ordinary spy movie, it is a very realistic psychological portrayal and the affects of knowing the real truth. Instead of this movie becoming a complete flop it becomes better and better as it carries on. Along with the cinematography and music he makes the audience feel how remote and controlled our society is. Coppola did not just show it he gave you the actual feeling of it. Coppola deserves much of the credit for this.

The writing was very good too. Once again Coppola uses his writing to keep the audience very much engaged into the movie. The writing in this movie ranks up their with his other screenplays such as The Godfather series, Apocalypse Now and Patton.

The acting was a bit of surprise to me. It was better than I expected. This film convinced me that Gene Hackman is prime talent. He is not just a man who plays the man always involved in a shouting match but in fact he is a versatile actor who has really limited himself rather than his abilities limiting him. He was perfect for this movie. The supporting cast was great as well. Robert Duvall who always gives the best cameos was good in here too. Harrison Ford who I wish actually had some more screen time was very convincing as a manipulative high ranking executive.

The ending in this movie to me is one of the best ever. It shows how or fears can consume us and alter our live. It displays how if our fears consume us we lose the feeling of life itself. That is at least my take of it. This is Coppola's hidden masterpiece that should be seen by all. It will definitely make you think.


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