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The Conversation (1974)

  • Crime Drama Mystery
  • Surveillance expert Harry Caul is hired by a mysterious client's brusque aide to tail a young couple. Tracking the pair through San Francisco's Union Square, Caul and his associate Stan manage to record a cryptic conversation between them. Tormented by memories of a previous case that ended badly, Caul becomes obsessed with the resulting tape, trying to determine if the couple are in danger.

  • $1,600,000
  • Description

    A paranoid| secretive surveillance expert has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that the couple he is spying on will be murdered.




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    Unfortunately, it appears with every passing day that the great American paranoid political thrillers of the 60's and 70's, with its strongest work bookended by 'The Manchurian Candidate' (eerily foreseeing the JFK assassination) and 'All the President's Men' (placing a coda of closure on the Watergate scandal), simply haven't aged a day, and are as timely as ever in conceptualizing the palpable fear that ordinary citizens have in those in control of their destinies, namely the police and government of their communities. It's the American ideal that any person born, regardless of circumstances, is in control of their destiny, and that with hard work, guile and determination, can make something of himself. Whether that was ever the case is questionable, but it seems more than ever that the people in power are in control of way more than we could ever suppose, or would ever want to know. This was a nice smaller-scale film that, incredulously, Coppola was able to dish up in a run that is one of the finest a director would ever have, up there with Hitchcock's in the late 50's-early 60's, and Melville a decade later. It's definitely excellent work by Hackman (along with his Popeye Doyle in the pair of great 'French Connection' movies), and is up there with the greatest dissertations ever about the double-edged sword of surveillance, namely De Palma's 'Blow Out' and Antonioni's 'Blow-Up'. As a human being, I only wish this film wasn't as important as it is.



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