7.8/10
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345 user 165 critic

The Conversation (1974)

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1:36 | Clip
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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3,226 ( 374)
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 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

June 1974 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Conversation See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,600,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,420,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,432,180
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

On the DVD commentary, Francis Ford Coppola says he was shocked to learn that the film utilized the very same surveillance and wire-tapping equipment that members of the Nixon Administration used to spy on political opponents prior to the Watergate scandal. Coppola has said this is the reason the film gained part of the recognition it has received, but that this is entirely coincidental. Not only was the script completed in the mid 1960s (before the Nixon Administration came to power) but the spying equipment used in the film was discovered through research, and the use of technical advisers, and not, as many believed, by revelatory newspaper stories about the Watergate break-in. Coppola also noted that filming had been completed several months before the most revelatory Watergate stories broke in the press. Since the film was released to theaters just a few months before Richard Nixon resigned as President, Coppola felt that audiences interpreted the film to be a reaction to both the Watergate scandal and its fall-out. See more »

Goofs

When Caul (escorted by Martin Stett) boards the elevator following a meeting with The Director, Caul holds the door open in order to complete an exchange (with Stett). Yet in the last shot of that sequence, it's Stett who's holding the door. 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

Featured in Precious Images (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

To Each His Own
(1946)
Music by Jay Livingston
Lyrics by Ray Evans
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Coppola's best film
29 September 2001 | by moonspinner55See all my reviews

Ingenious and mesmerizing little art film from producer-writer-director Francis Ford Coppola, just off "The Godfather Part II" and doing astounding, fluid work. Gene Hackman gives a superbly controlled performance as a wire-tapper who gets too involved in one of his cases, leaving him in the center of a macabre swirl of events. One of those quiet movies that fans of today's blockbusters probably won't appreciate; it tells us quite a lot about the main character without actually saying much at all, so assured are the visuals. It ends on a chilling note that leaves the protagonist alienated from his life, but Coppola is careful never to alienate his audience. Coppola received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Screenplay; Hackman deserved a nod as Best Actor but was shamefully overlooked. Their film is a winner. ***1/2 from ****


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