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Emmys 2017
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Article

The Conversation

Posted on

The Conversation

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
PG
performer:
Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Harrison Ford, Allen Garfield, Cindy Williams
director:
Francis Ford Coppola
distributor:
Paramount Pictures
author:
Francis Ford Coppola
genre:
Mystery and Thriller, ActionAdventure, Drama

We gave it an A

If you think Steven Soderbergh is having a great year with ”Erin Brockovich” and ”Traffic,” consider this: 1974 brought two films from director Francis Ford Coppola, ”The Godfather Part II” and this subdued, wrenching, beautifully calibrated character study of a professional eavesdropper (Gene Hackman, in what may be his greatest performance) whose vocation turns on him, shattering his sense of professionalism, privacy, and even sanity. Though The Conversation started shooting in November 1972 and opened at the apex of the Watergate era’s national obsession with wiretapping, Coppola actually wrote the script back in the mid-1960s, and, as he explains in a feature-length commentary (a track, by the way, that proves him to be one of a small handful of great filmmakers who are also intelligent, forthcoming commentators on their own methods), his influences were really Hermann Hesse’s novels and Michelangelo Antonioni’s ”Blowup.” The result has arguably aged better than either of its sources: In its unsparing story line and superb synthesis of sound and image (the great Walter Murch, who also provides a commentary track, edited the film and oversaw its complex, fragmented sound mix), ”The Conversation” is thrillingly uncompromised. What higher praise than to note that it competed against ”Godfather II” for the Best Picture Oscar, and that 25 years later, which film is the best picture is still debatable?