The Conversation (1974) – Francis Ford Coppola

Gene Hackman stars in one of the What Else to Watch list following my screening of The Lives of Others as I work my way through DK Canada’s exceptional The Movie Book.

Written and directed by Coppola, the film features some very recognizable names including Harrison Ford (playing the closest he’s ever been to a villain), a blink and you miss it appearance by Robert Duvall, Teri Garr and Cindy Williams.

Hackman is Harry Caul, a surveillance artist, one might even say artist. But because he’s so aware of how one can be watched, studied, cataloged, he leads a sheltered life, never letting anyone in, and never opening up to anyone, neither his romantic partners, nor his work associates.

He’s working a case for a nameless company, and the entire film revolves around the film’s opening sequence, which sees Harry and his team at work, recording an unsuspecting couple who are doing their best to avoid any surveillance.

He’s warned (by Ford) that the conversation is dangerous, and as he begins to piece the recording together he realizes it’s true. But who is he to do anything about it? He’s just a tech.

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a person so private, when he opens up, he opens up too far (especially by his standards) and the middle of the film gives us a twist, and reveal that puts the viewer ahead of Harry as we understand what happens to him at the film’s conclusion, and why his privacy was an illusion.

It’s a dark film of the 70s, not necessarily nihilistic, but definitely bitter, and well aware that Big Brother is watching, even those who would be working for him.

This is another of the films that I had heard a lot about through my years working at video stores, and watching film, cinema and movies (they are all different). and even the lure of one of my favorite actors (Ford) couldn’t get me to sit down for it.

Now, once again, I’m glad I waited, as I loved how it was put together, and got as much pleasure from it as Harry seems to as he stitches the conversation together.

This ends up being a great character study as Harry is drawn deeper into the case he is working on, and also a great 70s era dark thriller.

i have to tell you, DK Books’ The Movie Book came through again. This book has proven itself to be not only a handy reference book, but a wonderful guide to countless films I might never have watched (though some I would have gotten around to eventually).

So pick one up, and find a new to you classic to watch tonight, or revisit an old fave.

Conversation-Gene-Hackman-1974 (2)

 

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