Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Conversation (1974)

Harry Caul makes a good living by not asking questions about what his clients want.

Based in San Francisco, Caul (Gene Hackman) is a surveillance expert, revered by others in the business for the quality of his work and the equipment he creates to do his job.

Trouble is, Caul has a conscience that is starting to interfere with his work. He's already bothered by an earlier assignment that resulted in two people being murdered.

A job to record a conversation between a young couple in a public square causes him to cross a line and get involved with what he hears.

Caul is convinced something will happen to Mark and Ann (Frederic Forrest and Cindy Williams) if he doesn't intervene.

The stress he's facing on the job isn't helped by what's happening in his personal life.

His girlfriend, Amy (Teri Garr) is frustrated by how she little she knows about Harry's life. She appears to be a bit of a ditz, but Amy notices how Harry likes to watch her.

Another big name in the surveillance world, Bernie Moran (Allen Garfield), is eager to join forces with Harry, get access to the tools he has conjured up, while also reminding him of that earlier incident that led to lives being lost.

Harry makes a point - as Amy notes - of not letting others know about his personal life. Birthday wishes from other tenants, and signs colleagues and foes are watching him causes his life to start falling apart.

Director Francis Ford Coppola made The Conversation between the first and second Godfather films. This drama from 1974 features a much smaller world and cast of characters. Hackman stands out in a film that can be uncomfortable to watch. Harry is on the edge and The Conversation's final moments are disturbing to see.

Harrison Ford makes an early screen appearance as Martin Stett, a right-hand man to the director of, well I think it's a business. His name doesn't appear in the credits, but this veteran of other Coppola films including Apocalypse Now should be identifiable.

See this film - and give a listen to Coppola's commentary.

RATING: 9/10

The Conversation was nominated for three Academy Awards - best picture, screenplay and sound.

Elizabeth MacRae was Lou-Ann Poovie, girlfriend of Gomer Pyle, USMC.

The Conversation marks the film debut of Mark Wheeler.

No comments: