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Encyclopedia > The Conversation
The Conversation
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Produced by Francis Ford Coppola
Written by Francis Ford Coppola
Starring Gene Hackman,
John Cazale,
Allen Garfield,
Cindy Williams,
Frederic Forrest
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) Flag of the United States April 7, 1974 (NYC only)
Running time 113 min.
Country Flag of the United States United States
Language English
Budget $1,600,000
IMDb profile

The Conversation is an Academy Award nominated 1974 mystery thriller about audio surveillance, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Teri Garr, and Cindy Williams; it also features an early performance by Harrison Ford and an uncredited appearance from Robert Duvall. Image File history File links Theconversation. ... Francis Ford Coppola (born April 7, 1939) is a five-time Academy Award winning American film director, producer, and screenwriter. ... Francis Ford Coppola (born April 7, 1939) is a five-time Academy Award winning American film director, producer, and screenwriter. ... Francis Ford Coppola (born April 7, 1939) is a five-time Academy Award winning American film director, producer, and screenwriter. ... Gene Hackman (born Eugene Allen Hackman[1] on January 30, 1930) is a two-time Academy Award-winning American actor. ... John Frank Charles Cazale (August 12, 1935 – March 12, 1978) was a distinguished Golden Globe Award nominated American film and stage actor whose brief career spanned several acclaimed films of the 1970s. ... — Allen Garfield, born and sometimes credited as Allen Goorwitz (born November 22, 1939), is an American film and television actor. ... Cindy Williams (born August 22, 1947) is an American actress // Born Cynthia Jane Williams in Van Nuys, California to John and Lillie Williams. ... Frederic Forrest (born December 23, 1936 in Waxahachie, Texas) is an American actor. ... Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American motion picture production and distribution company, based in Hollywood, California. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... April 7 is the 97th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (98th in leap years). ... Year 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the 1974 Gregorian calendar. ... New York, New York redirects here. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Although he never won an Oscar for any of his movie performances, the comedian Bob Hope received two honorary Oscars for his contributions to cinema. ... Year 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the 1974 Gregorian calendar. ... Mystery film is a film genre which uses mystery as an element to the plot. ... The thriller is a broad genre of literature, film, and television. ... Francis Ford Coppola (born April 7, 1939) is a five-time Academy Award winning American film director, producer, and screenwriter. ... Gene Hackman (born Eugene Allen Hackman[1] on January 30, 1930) is a two-time Academy Award-winning American actor. ... John Frank Charles Cazale (August 12, 1935 – March 12, 1978) was a distinguished Golden Globe Award nominated American film and stage actor whose brief career spanned several acclaimed films of the 1970s. ... Teri Garr (born December 11, 1947 in Lakewood, Ohio) is an American actress and comedienne. ... Cindy Williams (born August 22, 1947) is an American actress // Born Cynthia Jane Williams in Van Nuys, California to John and Lillie Williams. ... For the silent film actor, see Harrison Ford (silent film actor). ... Robert Selden Duvall (born January 5, 1931) is an Academy Award and four-time Golden Globe winning American film actor and director. ...

Contents

Synopsis

Harry Caul (Hackman) is a paranoid surveillance expert running his own company. Caul is obsessed with his own privacy; his apartment is almost bare behind its triple-locked door, he uses pay phones to make calls and claims to have no home telephone, and his office is enclosed in wire mesh in a corner of a much larger warehouse. Caul is utterly professional at work, but he finds personal contact difficult. He is exquisitely uncomfortable in dense crowds and withdrawn and taciturn in more intimate situations; he is also reticent and secretive with work colleagues. He is nondescript in appearance, except for his habit of wearing a translucent plastic raincoat virtually everywhere he goes, even when it is not raining. Despite his insistence that his professional code means that he is not responsible for worrying about the actual content of the conversations he records or the uses to which his clients put his surveillance activities, he is in fact racked by guilt over a past wiretap job that left three persons dead; his sense of guilt is sharpened by his devout Catholicism. His one hobby is playing along with his favourite jazz records on a tenor saxophone in the privacy of his apartment. For other senses of this word, see paranoia (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Surveillance (disambiguation). ... A payphone or pay phone is a public telephone, with payment by inserting money (usually coins) or a debit card (a special telephone card or a multi-purpose card) or credit card before a call is made. ... Catholic guilt- is the idea that feelings of remorse, self-doubt, or personal conflict are created when an individual who is raised as a Catholic, engages in or having fantasies about acts that the Catholics consider sinful. ... For other uses, see Jazz (disambiguation). ... The saxophone (colloquially referred to as sax) is a conical-bored instrument of the woodwind family. ...


Caul has taken on the task of monitoring a couple's conversation as they walk through a crowded public square. The challenging task is accomplished, but Caul feels increasingly agonized over his doubts about the actual meaning of the conversation and about what may happen to the couple once the client hears the tape. He plays the tape again and again through the movie, refining its accuracy (by catching one key — though crucially ambiguous — phrase hidden under the sound of a street musician: "He'd kill us if he got the chance") and constantly reinterpreting its meaning in the light of what he knows and what he guesses. Caul avoids handing in the tape to the aide of the man who commissioned the surveillance; he then finds himself under increasing pressure from the aide and is himself followed, tricked, and listened in on, the tape eventually stolen from him in a moment when his guard is down. Caul's appalled efforts to forestall tragedy ultimately fail — because, it turns out, the conversation doesn't mean what he thought it did, and the tragedy he anticipated isn't the one that eventually happens. In the final scene of the film, Caul discovers that his own apartment is bugged and gradually takes it to pieces in an unsuccessful effort to discover the bug, eventually destroying everything there (even, after a moment of hesitation, his plastic figurine of the Madonna) except for his beloved tenor saxophone: at the film's end he's left sitting amidst the wreck, blowing a solo. The last shot, taken from a high angle, pans from left to right as if filmed by a surveillance camera, showing the wrecked apartment.

Harry Caul eavesdrops

Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ...

Background

Though the script was written in the mid-1960s, the film was released shortly after the Watergate scandal broke and thus reflected contemporary issues of personal responsibility and the encroachment of technology on privacy. The Watergate scandal was a 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at a Watergate Office Building in Washington, D.C. by members of Richard Nixons administration and the resulting cover-up which led to the resignation of the President. ...


Coppola has cited Blowup (Michelangelo Antonioni) as a key influence on his conceptualization of the film's themes, such as surveillance versus participation, and perception versus reality. "Francis had seen Antonioni's Blowup a year or two before, and had the idea to fuse the concept of Blowup with the world of audio surveillence." (Murch in Ondaatje, 2002, p. 152). There are also several overt borrowings from Blowup, notably the presence of mimes in both films and the central sequences involving the enhancement of a medium to reveal details previously unnoticed (photography in Blowup, audio tapes in The Conversation). Coppola has also noted the influence of Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf on the figure of Harry Caul (Ondaatje, 2002, p. 152) and (in the hotel bathroom scene) Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.[citation needed] Blowup (also rendered as Blow-Up) is an award-winning 1966 British-Italian art film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, his first English language film. ... Michelangelo Antonioni (September 29, 1912 - July 30, 2007) was an Italian modernist film director whose films are widely considered as some of the most influential in film aesthetics. ... Hermann Hesse (pronounced ) (2 July 1877 – 9 August 1962) was a Swiss-German poet, novelist, and painter. ... For other uses, see Steppenwolf. ... This article or section includes a list of works cited or a list of external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... Psycho is a 1960 suspense/horror film directed by auteur Alfred Hitchcock from the screenplay by Joseph Stefano about a psychotic killer. ...


Much of the style of the film owes a debt to Walter Murch, the editor and sound designer. Murch had more or less a free hand during the editing process, since Coppola was already working on The Godfather II at the time. (Ondaatje, 2002, p. 157). Walter Murch speaking 13 March 2005 Walter Scott Murch (born July 12, 1943) is an Academy Award–winning film editor/sound mixer. ... The Godfather Part II is a 1974 motion picture directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a script he co-wrote with Mario Puzo. ... Michael Ondaatje, OC , MA , BA (born September 12, 1943) is a Canadian/Sri Lankan novelist and poet perhaps best known for his Booker Prize winning novel adapted into an Academy Award winning film, The English Patient. ...


Music

The Conversation features an austere piano score composed and performed by David Shire. The score was created before the film was shot.[1] On some cues, Shire took the taped sounds of the piano and distorted them in different ways to create alternative tonalities to round out the score. The music is intended to capture the isolation and paranoia of protagonist Harry Caul. The score was released on CD by Intrada Records. David Shire David Shire (born July 3, 1937) is an American songwriter and the composer of stage musicals and film and television scores. ... Intrada is a retail store and record label that specializes in the release of film and television scores. ...


Awards

The film is consistently listed on the Internet Movie Database's list of top 250 films, and has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. It won the 1974 Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards for 1974: The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information about movies, actors, television shows, production crew personnel, and video games. ... The National Film Registry is the registry of films selected by the United States National Film Preservation Board for preservation in the Library of Congress. ... Year 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the 1974 Gregorian calendar. ... Palme dOr The Palme dOr (Golden Palm) is the highest prize given to a film at the Cannes Film Festival. ... The Cannes Film Festival (French: le Festival de Cannes), founded in 1939, is one of the worlds oldest, most influential and prestigious film festivals. ... Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are the most prominent and most watched film awards ceremony in the world. ...

// The Academy Award for Best Motion Picture is one of the Academy Awards, awards given to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which are voted on by others within the industry. ... The Academy Award for Sound Mixing is an Academy Award that recognizes the finest or most aesthetic sound mixing or recording, and is generally awarded to the production sound mixers and re-recording mixers of the winning film. ... // The Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay is the Academy Award for the best script not based upon previously published material. ...

See also

The 1998 film Enemy of the State also features Hackman as a security expert who, this time, goes clandestine so as not to leave any trace of his moves. Some fans have speculated that this character is, in fact, an older and wiser Harry Caul.[citation needed] // February 14 - Sharon Stone marries Phil Bronstein. ... Enemy of the State is a 1998 film written by David Marconi, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and directed by Tony Scott, and starring Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet and Regina King. ...


Bibliography

Philip Michael Ondaatje, OC (born 12 September 1943) is a Canadian/Sri Lankan novelist and poet perhaps best known for his Booker Prize winning novel adapted into an Academy-Award-winning film, The English Patient. ... Walter Murch speaking 13 March 2005 Walter Scott Murch (born July 12, 1943) is an Academy Award–winning film editor/sound mixer. ...

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:

Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Wikiquote is a sister project of Wikipedia, using the same MediaWiki software. ... The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information about movies, actors, television shows, production crew personnel, and video games. ...

Notes

  1. ^ discussion of soundtrack
Preceded by
The Hireling
tied with Scarecrow
Grand Prix, Cannes Film Festival
1974
Succeeded by
Chronicle of the Years of Fire
(prize renamed Palme d'Or)

Francis Ford Coppola (born April 7, 1939) is a five-time Academy Award winning American film director, producer, and screenwriter. ... Battle Beyond the Sun is a 1960 science fiction film by M. Karzhukov, Aleksandr Kozyr, and Thomas Colchart. ... Aleksandr Kozyr is a Russian film producer and director. ... Mikhail Karzhukov is a Russian film writer and director. ... The Bellboy and the Playgirls is a 1962 film by Francis Ford Coppola, Fritz Umgelter, and Jack Hill. ... Fritz Umgelter (1922 - 1981), was a German film director. ... Jack Hill (born 1933) is an American film director, noted for his work in the exploitation film genre. ... Tonight For Sure is a 1962 film by Francis Ford Coppola. ... Dementia 13 is a horror thriller released in 1963 by American International Pictures, starring William Campbell, Patrick Magee, and Luana Anders. ... Youre a Big Boy Now was a 1966 film with Geraldine Page, Julie Harris and Karen Black, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola based on a novel by David Benedictus. ... Finians Rainbow is a 1968 American movie musical. ... The Rain People is a 1969 film by Francis Ford Coppola. ... This article is about the 1972 film. ... The Godfather Part II is a 1974 motion picture directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a script he co-wrote with Mario Puzo. ... Apocalypse Now is a 1979 Academy and Golden Globe award winning American film set during the Vietnam War. ... One from the Heart is a 1982 musical film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. ... This article or section contains a plot summary that is overly long or excessively detailed compared to the rest of the article. ... Rumble Fish is a 1983 film directed, produced and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel by S.E. Hinton (ISBN 0-440-97534-4). ... The Cotton Club is a movie, released in 1984, centered around a popular real-life Harlem jazz club in the 1930s, the Cotton Club. ... Peggy Sue Got Married is a 1986 comedy / drama film which tells the story of a woman, on the verge of divorce, who finds herself transplanted back to the days of her senior year in high school. ... Gardens of Stone is a 1987 film by Francis Ford Coppola. ... Tucker: The Man and his Dream is a 1988 film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Jeff Bridges which tells the story of Preston Tucker and his attempt to produce and market the Tucker 48. ... New York Stories is an anthology film which was released in the USA in March 1989. ... Woody Allen (born Allen Stewart Königsberg on December 1, 1935) is a three-time Academy Award-winning American film director, writer, actor, jazz musician, comedian, and playwright. ... Martin Marcantonio Luciano Scorsese (IPA: AmE: ; Ita: []) (born November 17, 1942) is an American film director, writer and producer and founder of the World Cinema Foundation. ... The Godfather Part III (1990) is the third and final film in the Godfather trilogy written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, and directed by Coppola. ... Bram Stokers Dracula is a 1992 horror romance film produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. ... Jack is a 1996 film starring Robin Williams, Diane Lane, Brian Kerwin, Jennifer Lopez, Fran Drescher, and Bill Cosby, and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. ... The Rainmaker is also a 1995 novel by John Grisham that was made into a 1997 motion picture starring Matt Damon, Danny DeVito, Claire Danes and Jon Voight. ... Youth Without Youth is a 2007 film by Francis Ford Coppola. ... Tetro is an upcoming (expected 2009) film by Francis Ford Coppola. ... The Junkys Christmas is a 1993 film by Nick Donkin and Melodie McDaniel. ... Mary Shelleys Frankenstein is a 1994 film directed by Kenneth Branagh, starring Robert De Niro, Tom Hulce, Helena Bonham Carter, and Kenneth Branagh. ... Don Juan DeMarco is a film starring Johnny Depp as a man who believes himself to be Don Juan, the greatest lover in the world. ... Lani Loa - The Passage is a 1998 film directed by Sherwood Hu, produced by Francis Ford Coppola, about a woman murdered on her wedding day in Hawaii who comes back to haunt her murderers. ... The Florentine is a 1999 film by Nick Stagliano. ... The Virgin Suicides is a 1999 film written and directed by Sofia Coppola, starring James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett. ... The Hireling is a 1973 film directed by Alan Bridges. ... Scarecrow DVD cover Scarecrow is a 1973 movie starring Gene Hackman and Al Pacino. ... Palme dOr The Palme dOr (Golden Palm) is the highest prize given to a film at the Cannes Film Festival. ... Chronicle of the Years of Fire (French: Chronique des années de braise) is a 1975 film directed by Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
The Conversation (1024 words)
The Conversation has been described as an "Orwellian morality play" in which the spy becomes the spied upon, and technology is used against the user.
As Harry labours in his workshop to edit the conversation for the Director (Robert Duvall), he relies on a photo of the couple to anchor his editing of the tapes.
But as The Conversation comes to a close, the camera panning like yet another piece of detached security equipment, there may at least be a trace of pity for Harry in the viewer's gaze.
The Conversation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (780 words)
The Conversation is a 1974 mystery and thriller written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Robert Duvall (uncredited), Teri Garr, Cindy Williams, and Harrison Ford.
The challenging task is accomplished, but Caul feels increasingly agonized over his doubts about the actual meaning of the conversation and about what may happen to the couple once the client hears the tape.
Caul avoids handing in the tape to the aide of the man who commissioned the surveillance; he then finds himself under increasing pressure from the aide, and is himself followed, tricked and listened in on, the tape ultimately stolen from him in a moment when his guard is down.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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