HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Windom's Way
True Don Quixote, The
Babymother
Mitchells vs. the Machines, The
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Unholy, The
How to Deter a Robber
Antebellum
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Settlers
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Kandisha
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Plurality
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
Honeymoon
   
 
Newest Articles
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy 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 3756 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: