Review: ‘The Conversation’

Francis Coppola's The Conversation stars Gene Hackman as a professional surveillance expert whose resurgent conscience involves him in murder and leads to self-destruction.

Francis Coppola’s The Conversation stars Gene Hackman as a professional surveillance expert whose resurgent conscience involves him in murder and leads to self-destruction.

He is introduced in SF’s Union Square at midday, teamed with John Cazale and Michael Higgins in tracking the movements and voices of Frederic Forrest and Cindy Williams. The cleaned-up sound tapes, along with photographs, are to be delivered to a mysterious businessman, played in an unbilled part by Robert Duvall. What appears to be a simple case of marital infidelity suddenly shifts to a possible murder plot.

A major artistic asset to the film – besides script, direction and the top performances – is supervising editor Walter Murch’s sound collage and re-recording. Voices come in and out of aural focus in a superb tease.

1974: Nominations: Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Sound

The Conversation

Production

Paramount. Director Francis Coppola; Producer Francis Coppola, Fred Roos; Screenplay Francis Coppola; Camera Bill Butler; Editor Walter Murch, Richard Chew; Music David Shire;; Art Director Dean Tavoularis

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1974. Running time: 113 MIN.

With

Gene Hackman John Cazale Allen Garfield Frederic Forrest Cindy Williams Harrison Ford
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