The Conversation (1974)
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Harrison Ford
I decided to watch this movie for a number of reasons. First of all, Francis Ford Coppola is behind some of the greatest movies ever made. From Apocalypse Now to The Godfather trilogy, his work has heavily fed my love of cinema. My second reason for watching this one is the performance I hoped to see from John Cazale. He put together an incredible list of roles in the short time he was acting. From The Godfather films to Dog Day Afternoon and The Deer Hunter he was one of the great actors of his time. Finally, it’s hard to ignore the rest of this cast. Gene Hackman (Unforgiven), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games), and an uncredited Robert Duvall (Witness) were too much to pass up.
In addition to all of the reasons above, this movie was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Sound, and Best Director at the 1975 Academy Awards.
Harry Caul (Hackman) is a secretive man who has spent his entire career listening to other people’s secrets. On his newest assignment he’s heard a conversation that could get someone killed. As he struggles to get answers he begins to isolate himself even further. With his trust failing, he’s going to have to keep listening for the truth.
This movie really blew me away. I don’t know if I’d even heard of this one before recently. Thank goodness for friends that love movies, they’ve shared so many good ones with me. This movie was a wonderful psychological thriller, with great acting carrying the story. Coppola did a wonderful job both writing and directing this movie. I think it was a bit easier with the wonderful actors he cast. Gene Hackman is definitely the star, showing a huge range throughout the film. Cazale and Garfield are also wonderful in their supporting roles.
The score for this film is unique and powerful. It seems to be perfectly worked into the imagery and the story itself. Combined with Coppola’s instinctive direction, this movie comes together so nicely. It’s no wonder the Oscar nominations came for this movie. Perhaps the only reason it didn’t win Best Picture was the fact that it came up against another Coppola masterpiece, The Godfather: Part II.
I loved this movie. It isn’t perfect, and it hasn’t aged as well as some of the films Coppola has put together. Still, the story is told through powerful images and a great dialogue that seems to say just enough. If you’re a fan of suspense you should see this one. I would also recommend this one for anyone who loves any of the actors in the movie. Together they bring the script to life and it’s fun to see. I give this one 4.6 out of 5 stars.