HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Angelfish
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Convoy
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Rabid
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Ema
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Demonwarp
Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The
Chloe
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Murder Inferno
Extraction
Overlanders, The
Can You Keep a Secret?
Women in Revolt
   
 
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
   
 
  Conversation, The Eavesdroppers Hear No Good Of Themselves
Year: 1974
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Frederic Forrest, Cindy Williams, Michael Higgins, Elizabeth MacRae, Teri Garr, Harrison Ford, Mark Wheeler, Robert Shields, Phoebe Alexander, Robert Duvall
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is a professional surveillance expert, considered if not the best in the business, then damn near, such is his technical expertise. But his latest job has given him pause for thought; it seemed simple enough for a master such as him, so where others might have been foiled by his targets' insistence on walking around a busy public square in San Francisco, he has devised directional microphones which pick up every part of the conversation. Sure, it's distorted in places, but that's nothing Harry cannot solve himself, however, when it comes to handing over the tapes, he hesitates...

It's supposedly the favourite film of its director Francis Ford Coppola and its star Gene Hackman out of all the works they participated in, but The Conversation has never been universally liked. That could be because it walks in like a thriller and shuffles out like a muttering character study, disappointing those who wanted something like... well, something like Enemy of the State a few decades later, which played out like an action movie unofficial sequel to this. However, that effort had nothing on this one for the strength of its acting, and much of that was down to Hackman single-mindedly inhabiting Harry Caul.

For a film about sound it's a strangely quiet work, leaving you to adopt its surreptitious protagonist's line in wheedling out information about what you were watching from the basic essentials offered by Coppola's stylistic choices. For this reason many found it a confusing film, unsure of what they were supposed to be taking away from it and most egregious of all baffled at how a supposed expert like Caul could have the wool so cleverly pulled over his eyes. The answer to that is he isn't half as aware as he thinks he is, indeed scene after scene shows him up as rather sloppy, from the early sequence where he finds a birthday present left inside his apartment door to the twist ending.

Face it, Harry is a mess, and the more he loses himself in other people's lives the less he can cope with his own, with all the guilt and loneliness that accompanies it. Deeply religious, he cannot match his piety with the way he makes his living, particularly after we learn he was partly responsible for the deaths of an entire family, thanks to his spying being turned to evil purposes - bizarrely, not something he was expecting as far as we can tell. As his life falls down quietly around his ears, we can appreciate the superb sound design courtesy of Walter Murch, at least as important in the overall effect as Coppola's direction and Hackman's acting, and repeat viewings aptly reveal fresh insights into the story.

Just as Caul's obsessive replaying and honing of the tapes reveal more and more, the big one being that the young couple being spied on are about to be murdered, though he cannot work out quite why or where without more application to the task in hand. Coppola gets a little caught up in his story himself - that dream sequence looks like an outtake from one of his quickie scenes on The Terror - but with each passing minute there are fresh pleasures to be had, including an excellent cast in support to Hackman's methods which could have overwhelmed them. Allen Garfield as Caul's West Coast rival threatens to steal the movie, a sleazy and bumptious operator who wants to prove better than Harry; it's a superb performance, one of those from this decade which gathered a cult around him, and John Cazale as the assistant another instance of the surveillance business attracting real creeps. But if anything The Conversation was a star vehicle, though whether that star was the lead actor or the director was up for debate in one of the major paranoia movies of its era. Music by David Shire.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2802 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: