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The Conversation

317 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A routine wire-tapping job turns into a modern nightmare as Harry hears something disturbing in his recording of a young couple in the park.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Rating: PG
Release Date: 8-AUG-2006
Media Type: DVD

Special Features

  • "Close-Up on the Conversation" Featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Frederic Forrest, Cindy Williams
  • Directors: Francis Ford Coppola
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: December 12, 2000
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (317 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CX9I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,716 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Conversation" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

163 of 168 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 9, 2003
Format: DVD
Most of us know at least one person who can compartmentalize her or his life, separating business from pleasure, career from family, etc. Such people have exceptional focus and determination. Brilliantly portrayed by Gene Hackman, Harry Caul is such a person. (Even his girlfriend Amy, played by Teri Garr, does not know where he lives.) Harry is an expert technician who is retained to conduct electronic surveillance of those identified by his clients. In effect, he is a high-tech private investigator. What he records becomes evidence of illegal, unethical, or immoral behavior. Harry has no personal interest in the private lives he invades surreptitiously. But then he accepts an assignment and begins to suspect that the subjects of his surveillance will be murdered. The "compartments" in his life which Harry has so carefully separated begin to merge (albeit gradually) and he begins to have second thoughts about how he earns a living. Of course, he is better qualified than any other character in the film to understand (if not yet fully appreciate) the implications of an invasion of privacy. Under Francis Ford Coppola's brilliant direction, Harry begins to feel paranoid.

I view The Conversation as a dark film because its raises so many questions which seem even more relevant today than they were in 1974. How secure can any life be? Who is accumulating personal as well as professional data about whom? Why? Satellites can take photographs of a license plate. All of the data on computer hard drives can be recovered. DNA tests can determine whether or not a monarch was poisoned hundreds of years ago. In so many ways, "there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide" from modern technologies.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Bryant Bell on February 14, 2001
Format: DVD
"The Conversation" is one of those great little masterpieces of the 1970s that just so happens to be directed by Francis Ford Coppola. "The Conversation" tells the tale of Harry Caul, (geniously played by Gene Hackman) a surveillance expert who makes the mistake of getting personally involved in a disturbing assignment. Gene Hackman's performance is so subtle, underplayed, and finely-tuned that it alone makes the film worthwhile. The script is fabulous, with a twist that makes "The Sixth Sense" look like kid's stuff.
The DVD of "The Conversation" is great. To start off, it has good, animated menus. The theatrical trailer is nice, just for nostalgic purposes. There is also a featurette, "Close-Up on The Conversation". It makes for a nice, brief look at the making of the film, and it's fun to see Coppola so young. What really makes this DVD great though, are the two commentary tracks. The first is by the director himself, Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola's commentary is one of the most comprehensive I've ever heard. If you don't appreciate this movie now, you will after you've heard his commentary. The second commentary is by editor Walter Murch, which is also very good, especially if you are specifically interested in the editing process.
If you like Coppola, Hackman, or are just a sucker for a clever script, this DVD is for your collection.
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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 22, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
The 70s were the heyday of conspiracy paranoia in popular entertainment: 1974 The Conversation, 1975 The Three Days Of The Condor, 1975 The Parallax View, 1976 All The President's Men ...
The worldview advanced in those films, was that a Cold War mindset had infected American domestic life ... powerful, mysterious forces were foisting a secret spy game on the unsuspecting public. Those jaded messages resonated with Americans, who had lost their innocence to political assassinations, Vietnam, and Watergate.
The Conversation is perfectly representative of those times. Gene Hackman is ideally cast as a lonely electronic surveillance professional, whose carefully detached world cracks apart when a routine assignment goes wrong and drives him over the moral edge.
Deprived of a human support system, Hackman's intelligence turns on itself and leads him into a series of dangerous mistakes. In the end Hackman finds himself no longer the safe detached observer, but instead, a vulnerable pawn in a cruel conspiracy plot.
The film's direction is masterful in the hands of Francis Ford Coppola at his restrained best. The style is European noirish: spare, cerebral, brooding, enhanced by masterful photography and intellectual jazz music. Though the film is shot in color, you may find that you remember it in black and white.
Viewers beware: The Conversation is not for action lovers, it moves slowly and requires a love of introspection.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Brennan VINE VOICE on January 2, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
For my money, this is the best movie Francis Ford Coppola ever made.

Say what you will about the imitated-to-the-point-of-parody "Godfather" movies, or the often brilliant piece of film madness that is "Apocalypse Now." I'd still rather talk about "The Conversation."

Ostensibly a thriller about a professional wiretapper and his surveilance of a single conversation in what appears to be an adulterous relationship, "The Conversation" is also a a thought-provoking masterwork about secrets, lies, spies and power in Watergate-era America, and an excellent character study about the interplay between conscience and professionalism in one profoundly real, profoundly fascinating man.

The man in question, Harry Caul, is obsessed with secrets--keeping his own, and finding out other people's. Gene Hackman's riveting portrayal of Caul--a dramatic change of pace from iron-willed characters like "The French Connection"'s Popeye Doyle--shows us a man riven by conflicting emotions. Pride, obsessiveness, professionalism, lust, and good old Catholic guilt are all at war in Harry's tortured soul, pulling him in a multitude of different directions as the movie unfolds.

At the film's outset, we see him overseeing the surveilance of the conversation in question, a perplexing, half-heard dialogue between a young couple out for a lunchtime stroll in a public park in San Francisco. Snippets of this conversation loop through Harry's mind and through the movie, playing and re-playing, but he--and we--only gradually uncover its true meaning.

Gradually, Harry begins to suspect that, if he does his job right, the couple in question may be killed.
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