US, 1974, 113 minutes, 2K DCP, Dir. Francis Ford Coppola, Rated PG, Rialto Films
“Remarkably ambitious and serious–a Hitchcockian thriller, a first-rate psychological portrait of a distinctive modern villain, and a bitter attack on American business values… all in one movie.” —David Denby
“An immaculate thriller…a study in paranoia and loneliness, partly inspired by Antonioni’s Blow-Up, and released as the Watergate scandal was unfolding, [with] one of Gene Hackman’s greatest performances.” —Philip French, The Guardian
Lonely wiretapping expert and devout Catholic Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is hired to record a seemingly innocuous conversation in San Francisco’s Union Square between two lovers. Upon re-hearing the tapes, however, Caul believes he may be putting the couple in danger if he turns the material over to his client (Robert Duvall). But what one hears can ultimately turn out to be quite different from what was actually recorded.
Fittingly, the idea for Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation stemmed from a conversation. Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now) was chatting with filmmaker Irvin Kershner in 1966 about espionage. Kershner observed that most people thought that walking in a crowd protected them from being bugged, but newer technology debunked that theory. Microphones could, in fact, identity voices in a crowd. Coppola was immediately intrigued and as he noted, “I said, ‘I think I want to do a film about eavesdropping and privacy, and I want to make it about the guy who does it rather than about the people it’s being done to’.” In 2020, Coppola described this project as one of his most personal films.
The Conversation was awarded the Palme d'Or at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival and received three nominations at the 1975 Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture. Poster by Francois Schuiten and Laurent Durieux, Copyright Nautilus Art Prints.
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