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Made between The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974), and in part an homage to Michelangelo Antonioni's art-movie classic Blow-Up (1966), The Conversation was a return to small-scale art films for Francis Ford Coppola. Sound surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is hired to track a young couple (Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest), taping their conversation as they walk through San Francisco's crowded Union Square. Knowing full well how technology can invade privacy, Harry obsessively keeps to himself ...

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May 1, 2010

FF Coppola = Writer, Producer & Director!

TITLE: The Conversation
GENRE: Drama/Thriller, espionage/surveillance
CAST: Gene Hackman, Cindy Williams, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Frederic Forrest, Terri Garr, Harrison Ford, Phoebe Alexander and Robert Duvall
PLOT: A private detective who specializes in surveillance gets a job to perform a task only his expertise could accomplish. He does the job and then allows himself to become involved in the situation. That is not a good idea.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT: 9 of 10; It is one of the better detective films of the era, foreshadowing the Watergate Plumbers work. This incorporates modern equipment and technoques into the business of spying. A simple track of piano playing some jazz is all the background music and lends to the mood excellently. This was Coppola trying to do an "art" film and he succeeded. Won the Palm d'Or in 1974 and had 3 oscar nominations.
DVD BONUS: Overdub comment by Coppola; overdub comment by Murch, the final cut editor; a theatrical trailer
ADDED NOTES: **SPOILER ALERT** I'll mention that Coppola doen't know where the final surveillance bug was. But it makes sense that Caul (the spy)'s rival who marketed a special device that turned a hung up phone on from a remote location, was in on the scam. Final act: Phone kept in drawer rings. No one has the number (It would have taken another spy to get his number which helps explain the earlier entry into his apartment just to find out his phone number!),. Caul takes out the phone, no one there and goes back to playing his sax (Phone on desk) Ring again and playback of the music he just played. Had to be the phone. Nowadays we know cell phones are routinely used for tracking and remote turn on operations. So Coppola was way ahead of the curve on this one.

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