Conversation

Conversation

4.7 8
Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Cast: Francis Ford Coppola, Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield

     
 

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Made between The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974), and in part an homage to Michelangelo Antonioni's art-movie classic Blow-Up (1966), The Conversation was a return to small-scale art films for Francis Ford Coppola. Sound surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is hired to track a young couple (Cindy Williams andSee more details below

Overview

Made between The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974), and in part an homage to Michelangelo Antonioni's art-movie classic Blow-Up (1966), The Conversation was a return to small-scale art films for Francis Ford Coppola. Sound surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is hired to track a young couple (Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest), taping their conversation as they walk through San Francisco's crowded Union Square. Knowing full well how technology can invade privacy, Harry obsessively keeps to himself, separating business from his personal life, even refusing to discuss what he does or where he lives with his girlfriend, Amy (Teri Garr). Harry's work starts to trouble him, however, as he comes to believe that the conversation he pieced together reveals a plot by the mysterious corporate "Director" who hired him to murder the couple. After he allows himself to be seduced by a call girl, who then steals the tapes, Harry is all the more convinced that a killing will occur, and he can no longer separate his job from his conscience. Coppola, cinematographer Bill Butler, and Oscar-nominated sound editor Walter Murch convey the narrative through Harry's aural and visual experience, beginning with the slow opening zoom of Union Square accompanied by the alternately muddled and clear sound of the couple's conversation caught by Harry's microphones. The Godfather Part II and The Conversation earned Coppola a rare pair of Oscar nominations for Best Picture, as well as two nominations for Best Screenplay (The Godfather Part II won both). Praised by critics, The Conversation was not a popular hit, but it has since come to be seen as one of the artistic high points of the decade, as well as of Coppola's career. Its atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion, combined with its obsessive loner antihero, made it prototypical of the darker "American art movies" of the early '70s, as its audiotape storyline also made it seem eerily appropriate for the era of the Watergate scandal.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Though it was commercially lost in the shuffle between The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, The Conversation ranks among the finest films of Francis Ford Coppola's career. Drawn on a more intimate canvas than the Godfather epics or Apocalypse Now, it's a compelling and expertly constructed chamber piece about the nature of privacy and the troubling gray area between facts and truth; it was also remarkably prescient, coming out just as the Watergate scandal was making surveillance a major issue in the American consciousness. Gene Hackman delivers a typically expert performance as Harry Caul, who makes his living finding out what others are doing. As a consequence, Caul has become an obsessively private man haunted by guilt and incapable of trusting anyone, and Hackman and Coppola mold him into an indelible character whose moral and professional sides are at constant war. Coppola also used his soundtrack with uncommon intelligence; in a decade in which the attention paid to film sound would increase by leaps and bounds, The Conversation was a breakthrough in using its soundtrack not just to convey dialogue and music but to deepen the story, as well as providing the ultimate screen example of the adage, "It's not what you say, it's how you say it." The Conversation is a subtle film that best reveals its details through repeat viewings, though even on a first viewing it's a brilliant cautionary tale whose message has become all the more potent with the passage of time and the further rise of technology.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/25/2011
UPC:
0031398144885
Original Release:
1974
Rating:
PG
Source:
Lions Gate
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
1:53:00
Sales rank:
4,596

Special Features

Audio commentary with Francis Ford Coppola; Audio Commentary with Editor Walter Murch; ; Never-Before-Seen Interview with Francis Ford Coppola and Composer David Shire; ; Never-Before-Seen Archival Screen tests; Never-Before-Heard Archival audio of Francis Ford Coppola dictating the original script; Never-Before-Seen Discussion with Francis Ford Coppola about his early film exercise, "No Cigar"; ; ; "Close-up on The Conversation" featurette; ; Archival on-set interview with Gene Hackman

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gene Hackman Harry Caul
John Cazale Stanley
Allen Garfield William P. "Bernie" Moran
Frederic Forrest Mark
Cindy Williams Ann
Teri Garr Amy
Harrison Ford Martin Stett
Timothy Carey Actor
Elizabeth MacRae Meredith
Mark Wheeler Receptionist
Robert Shields The Mime
Phoebe Alexander Lurleen
Robert Duvall The Director
Michael Higgins Paul

Technical Credits
Francis Ford Coppola Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Bill Butler Cinematographer
Richard Chew Editor
Doug von Koss Set Decoration/Design
Walter Murch Editor,Sound/Sound Designer
Chuck Myers Asst. Director
Clark Paylow Production Manager
Art Rochester Sound/Sound Designer
Aggie Guerard Rodgers Costumes/Costume Designer
Fred Roos Co-producer
David Shire Score Composer
Jennifer Shull Casting
Dean Tavoularis Production Designer

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