Taglines: Harry Caul will go anywhere to bug a private conversation.
Harry Caul is a devout Catholic and a lover of jazz music who plays his saxophone while listening to his jazz records. He is a San Francisco-based electronic surveillance expert who owns and operates his own small surveillance business. He is renowned within the profession as being the best, one who designs and constructs his own surveillance equipment. He is an intensely private and solitary man in both his personal and professional life, which especially irks Stan, his business associate who often feels shut out of what is happening with their work.
This privacy, which includes not letting anyone into his apartment and always telephoning his clients from pay phones is, in part, intended to control what happens around him. His and Stan’s latest job (a difficult one) is to record the private discussion of a young couple meeting in crowded and noisy Union Square.
The Conversation is a 1974 American psychological thriller film written, produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Gene Hackman with supporting roles by John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Cindy Williams, Frederic Forrest, Harrison Ford, Teri Garr and Robert Duvall.
The plot revolves around a surveillance expert and the moral dilemma he faces when his recordings reveal a potential murder. Coppola cited the 1966 film Blowup as a key influence. However, since the film was released to theaters just a few months before Richard Nixon resigned as President, he felt that audiences interpreted the film to be a reaction to the Watergate scandal.
The Conversation won the Palme d’Or at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. It was nominated for three Academy Awards in 1974 and lost Best Picture to The Godfather Part II, another Francis Ford Coppola film. In 1995, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Originally, Paramount Pictures distributed the film worldwide. Paramount retains American rights to this day but international rights are now held by Miramax Films and StudioCanal in conjunction with American Zoetrope.
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Frederic Forrest, Cindy Williams, Elizabeth MacRae, Harrison Ford
Screenplay by: Francis Ford Coppola
Production Design by: Dean Tavoularis
Cinematography by: Bill Butler, Haskell Wexler
Film Editing by: Richard Chew
Costume Design by: Aggie Guerard Rodgers
Set Decoration by: Doug von Koss
Music by: David Shire
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: April 7, 1974