7.9/10
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334 user 159 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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4,016 ( 385)

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
... Harry Caul
... Stan
... Bernie Moran
... Mark
... Ann
... Paul
... Meredith (as Elizabeth Mac Rae)
... Amy
... Martin Stett
... 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 will go anywhere to bug a private conversation. 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:

 »

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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:

| (restored version)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original cut was four and a half hours long. Most significant was a subplot of Harry dealing with his neighbors, who complain about the building's plumbing problems, unaware that Harry owns the building. Other scenes feature Harry consulting his lawyer (played by Abe Vigoda) about the apartment situation, and Harry convincing his teenaged niece (played by Mackenzie Phillips) not to run away from home. See more »

Goofs

When Harry Caul is in the elevator, you see the woman come in and three buttons are pushed. After stopping on a floor, a cut back to the shot of the woman and only one button remains lit whereas two should still be lit. 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

Referenced in Halt and Catch Fire: Valley of the Heart's Delight (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Out of Nowhere
(1931)
Music by Johnny Green (as John W. Green)
Lyrics by Edward Heyman
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Everyone's Talking at Me.....I Think I Hear Every Word They Say.
7 November 2003 | by See all my reviews

Enigmatic, frustrating, confusing, intelligent and overall extremely brilliant work by writer/director Francis Ford Coppola (Oscar-nominated for his screenplay) has surveillance expert Gene Hackman recording a conversation between Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest. It immediately appears that the duo are having an affair behind Williams' very wealthy husband's (a cameo by Robert Duvall) back. However nothing is quite as cut and dry as it seems. Hackman, a devout Catholic, has a bout of conscience as he worries that Duvall might have deviant plans for his wife and her apparent lover. Apparently Hackman's work had meant the lives of some he had spied on many years earlier in New York and he is shown as a quiet man who has some loud personal demons within his soul. The suspense builds when Hackman is followed by Duvall's shady employee (Harrison Ford) and eventually the heat rises to a boil as all the very loose ends are tied together in a wickedly twisted final act. "The Conversation" was Coppola's other film from 1974 (remember Best Picture Oscar winner "The Godfather, Part II"?). With this movie, Coppola created arguably the two best films of that dominant cinematic campaign (of course Roman Polanski's "Chinatown" would have something to say about that). Hackman delivers a deceptively difficult and dark performance as a man who seems to be self-destructing slowly on the inside out. By the end "The Conversation" is a thought-provoking product that will chill you to the bone with its cold elements. 5 stars out of 5.


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