The Conversation (R/I)
Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield
Gene Hackman plays Harry Caul in Francis Ford Coppola’s classic paranoid thriller, made in between the first two parts of The Godfather trilogy. Caul is a surveillance expert, tasked with recording a couple with cold professional distance by an unknown client. But what he captures raises unsettling, deadly questions. Wrestling with the echoes of the past, Caul is tormented by past mistakes and forced to engage with his work’s moral implications.
Released within years of the Watergate scandal, Coppola’s film is both a telling document of the paranoid ‘70s and also a chilling reminder for an age in which surveillance is the norm. A triumph of editing by Walter Murch, Caul’s obsessive replaying of the couple’s conversation turns the screw for an unforgettable conclusion. Featuring an incredible cast of supporting actors – especially Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall and John Cazale – this is a haunting film about technology, alienation and guilt.