The Conversation (1974)

DailyView: Day 83, Movie 141

One of Frances Ford Coppola’s finest films according to critics and cinephiles is next up on the DailyView, The Conversation starring the ever awesome Gene Hackman. Speculation has been that the character played by Gene Hackman in The Conversation is the same character he plays in the movie Enemy of the State years later with Will Smith. Now having seen The Conversation, I can see why the connections have been made.

Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) was an expert in surveillance who was hired to record a conversation between a young couple, Mark (Frederic Forrest) and Ann (Cindy Williams). Paranoid and regretful from a previous job that turned out tragically, Harry stated to believe that the couple might be in danger from the man who had hired him and this worry began to weigh on Harry’s mind.

Written and directed by Coppola, The Conversation has an interesting cast of actors. Along with the excellent Gene Hackman, there was Shirley from Laverne & Shirley, Cindy Williams, a young Harrison Ford, Teri Garr, Allen Garfield, an uncredited role for Robert Duvall, and John Cazale.

The movie is excellent, in particular, the third act that takes what we thought was happening and flipped it around to show us what was really going on. It was a twist ending before twist endings became so predominant in the industry. I honestly never saw it coming.

I love how the film slowly develops the character of Harry Caul and how we see him struggle with himself over what he has done in the past and how this new case could potentially echo that problem.

The underlying theme of surveillance is as important today as it was back in the 1970s. At that time, this movie had come out just around the same time as the Watergate conspiracy and so the nation was surely looking at films like this in more ways than just entertainment.

I’ve said this before, but I miss Gene Hackman. He is truly one of the most underrated actors we have ever had. He has a filmography unlike most Hollywood stars and he is exceptional every time.

The Conversation is one of those movies that I have seen on the different streaming services, but I never watched before. I am glad that I changed that today.

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